Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Simple Solution to a Giant Meal Planning Blockade!

In my constant quest for better health, less waste, saving money, and simplifying household tasks so that I have more time to do the things I want to do, I have always and forever had Leave it to Beaver dreams of creating a weekly menu. Just imagine, a grocery list that only includes the things we actually need for the week rather than all of the random cravings that take me over when I'm actually at the grocery store. A refrigerator comfortably full of healthy food that will be eaten on its designated night rather than a fridge crammed with so much food we can't possibly eat it all before it goes bad. (This overwhelming fullness often leads me to eat things that are easiest to cook instead of healthiest so...more calories and more waste of the good stuff that goes bad faster). Best of all, a weekly trip to the grocery store to stock up instead of random daily trips to get odds and ends that for some unknown reason we need right nooooow.

Up until now, the menu idea has been a bust for me. I sit down, pen in hand, get through a couple of days, and then I hit a BLOCK. I don't fully understand what this block is yet, except that it has to do with my bad eating habits and my stuck-ness with my weight. I'm not going to get into all of that now, so let's just say, I'm working on my stuff. I even read this great post by Jen Neitzel on DIY Lounge about how her family plans their menus and all of the benefits it gives them. I drooled over her blank pdf menu (I'm a nerd about lists and planner-thingies), printed it out, and with a big I CAN DO THIS sat down through a couple of days and hit that block again.

Now, if you're the kind of person that doesn't suffer from menu-writer's block, you should totally use her pdf 'cus it's awesome. But I think for me it was too set in stone. I had this completely silly feeling of being locked in to whatever I wrote down. In my head I whined, "But what if I don't waaant tacos on Thursday?!" My silly issues came up and food panic set in. So I forgot about the menu, once again.

Until now. There I was again, pining over some kind of Betty Crocker dream of an ordered household (I don't actually know if Betty Crocker cared about an ordered household, but this is the kind of thing I get stuck in my head), when it hit me. A way to plan out my week, but still have the flexibility I need to handle my rebellious side. I went and got 8 magnets and a boat-load of index cards, and Indigo and I made a list of all of the meals we like to eat and the ones we'd like to try. I wrote a meal on each card, one that says "leftovers" and one that says "eating out." Then we decided together what we wanted to eat for the week, and I planned my own days when she'll be at her dad's and viola! Menu! The 8th magnet is for my shopping list for my now weekly trip to the grocery store.

Indigo is in school all day and we basically eat the same thing for breakfast every day (and I am good at picking healthy things from leftovers or whatever for lunch), so we only did dinners. Evenings are when I'm tired and most likely to make poor choices, so that's what we needed to plan, but it would be super easy with some more magnets to add in more meals. I really needed to just get the ball rolling because this change felt urgent to me, so the cards are very plain right now. But I plan on adding some decorations and ideas for ways to make each meal healthier. Things I've never made before will have the recipe right there on the card.

It felt really good to finally get over this obstacle. It also felt great to involve Indigo and get her excited about it. She's always been a picky eater and I can't tell you how happy I am to get past our nightly, "What do you want for dinner?" "I don't know, macaroni and cheese?" conversations as well as my role as a short-order cook. I have more time in my life for the good stuff, like making art and spending quality time with the people I love. My refrigerator, wallet, and trash can are also all thanking me, and hopefully soon my waistline will be as well.

1 comment:

Amanda said...

This is such a fabulous idea, and the magnets make it completely adorable! I love it so much.