Do you ever read something that literally changes your life? A few weeks ago I came across a post by Edie over at Life in Grace, and I'm not joking when I say it was life-changing. In this post Edie describes managing her household with four young children and running up against dinner time nightly, scrambling to get something on the table while everyone (including her husband) is fussing up a storm.
Before I had kids I LOVED cooking. I thought of it as free therapy. I loved grocery shopping and list making and planning our meals. In fact, I even shared recipes and reviews on this blog for a while!
I have come to loathe it. Part of that stems from my kids being pretty big pains when it comes to trying new food. I'm seriously still scarred from their food throwing phase, which lasted several months. But my lack of enthusiasm is even bigger than that. In a day, I make a million decisions and manage a million crises, I don't have it in me to take on meal planning and coupon clipping and cooking on top of it all. I'm worn out. My brain is fried.
Weekly, I found myself flopping into a chair at our kitchen table, frustrated and exhausted, and feebly trying to put a list together. The list never seemed to come together quickly and before long the kids were up from naps and I was trying to keep them from coloring on my list and making it rain coupons like we were recording some twisted suburban rap video. All the while, I was on the verge of tears trying to imagine up food that was both healthy and had a chance of possibly being consumed by these tiny terrorists.
Then, already mentally exhausted, I'd cart my clan to the grocery store where the chaos that ensued usually caused me to forget half of what I needed (even the stuff written on my list). Between my kids not wanting to be in a cart, tossing things out of a cart, eating the food I put in the cart through the skins and packing and people stopping me to tell me that my I have my hands full or to ask me if Reese and Ryan are twins... Oh lord, it's too much.
What I'm trying to say here, people, is that when it comes to meal planning, I've been a hot mess.
Edie's solution is so simple -- stick your meals into a google calendar and set each meal to repeat.
I'm going to let the richness of that simplicity sit with you for a second. When you're done smacking your head against the table come back to me, okay?
Stick your meals into a google calendar and set them to repeat. After a few months, an entire year's worth of meals should be planned out for you. If you get to a week and you're not feeling the plans, change them up. But I love the idea of not having to guess "what's for dinner?".
A full explanation of her solution can be found here. And instructions on how to set up your own menu-planning google calendar can be found here.
As part of my effort to simplify, simplify, simplify, I also tried having our groceries delivered. It was a horrible experience. We had bad experiences with crazy and inappropriate substitutions, which was bad enough. But the straw that broke the camel's back happened one night when I left Joe home alone with the kids.
Our groceries were supposed to be delivered between 1 and 3 pm. At 4 pm, when they still had not arrived, I called the store and they told me the driver had just left. Not ideal, but at least the food would get here before Joe needed to cook dinner. The driver arrived at our house at 7 pm WITHOUT OUR GROCERIES. Did I mention that we had no food in the house and the items Joe needed to make dinner with were part of that delivery?
Apparently they had forgotten to load our groceries on the truck. How someone whose sole job is to deliver groceries, leaves the store without said groceries, I have no idea. The driver came back with our order and rang the doorbell at 9:45 pm. You know, that awesomely quiet time when all the children are sleeping? Yes. She rang the doorbell then. To say that the store manager got an earful the next morning would be understatement. I'm not sure how Joe survived that day without killing someone or himself.
Honestly, the whole relinquishing control to someone else wasn't working with my personality type anyway. We have a new grocery store opening up here and I'm really excited about it. It's no Wegmans, but it will do. I'd move back to Syracuse just for Wegmans in Dewitt alone. True story.
Anyway, I hope this helps someone else. I'm still working out some of the kinks with my own menu and how often to repeat things, when to set seasonal recipes and the like. But its saved my sanity in a big way.