I’ve had a few light-bulb moments since beginning my Simple Year project. My most important one involves something I knew for a while but didn’t want to admit.
I don’t like to cook.
And so magazine covers with phrases like “Easiest Dinners EVER!” and “Quick Healthy Meals” always tempted me. But I never found any real solutions, because no article can make a person like to cook. Worse, I was adding clutter by buying magazines I didn’t need.
I think my disinterest in cooking is why I’ve been unsuccessful at establishing a solid meal planning habit. My second and third objectives for this year merge a bit because I want to get into better home-related habits, and I want to make better meals for my family.
Looking at my mistakes is important because I keep going back and trying the same routine, but it’s not sticking. I want to share what I’ve figured out, which I hope will help if you’re having similar issues.
Mistake #1: Choosing Sunday as my planning and shopping day.
I used to sit down on Sundays with a few cookbooks, and my browser opened to Pinterest. It was overwhelming and time-consuming. Sundays are not as stressful as they used to be, but I still haven’t shaken the bit of anxiety I always feel about the coming week. Trying to meal plan on an already busy day was never a good idea, and neither was trying to deal with crowded grocery stores.
My Fix: I’m going to get in the habit of planning meals for next week on Wednesdays. Because I currently have Fridays off, I’m going to do my shopping on Fridays. The meal week will begin on Saturday.
Mistake #2: Getting bogged down by too many options.
My ‘Healthy Cooking’ Pinterest board has 186 pins. A few pins need to be moved to the ‘Food Which Will One Day Kill You’ board, but I still have way over 100 ideas. I pared down my cookbook collection to only keep my favorites, but I still have several. My head swims with all the ideas.
My Fix: To plan each night around some sort of theme, which will limit the possibilities. I don’t remember the context but several months ago Emma rattled off a list of her ideal dinners. She didn’t even think about it: “Monday, pasta. Tuesday, tacos. Wednesday, pizza. Thursday, chicken. Friday, breakfast. Saturday, salad.” She ran out of steam before Sunday, but I liked the theory. I worked with her plan for a while, and then I stopped, which leads me to my next issue.
Mistake #3: Not sticking with the plan
I need to make this a routine, and I hope doing it on a different day will help. It’s something I’d do a few weeks here, a few weeks there, without a habit ever taking hold. And there was always one or two nights when I’d get home and just not want to cook. So we’d go out or order in even though I had the ingredients for a meal on hand.
My Fix: I’m going to add this to my calendar so that I remember to plan on Wednesday and shop on Wednesday. I’m also going to plan more realistically, knowing I won’t want to make a full blown meal from scratch every night.
Mistake #4: Trying to cook every single night.
No real explanation is needed. I don’t like to cook and I don’t want to do it every night.
My fix: I need shortcuts. For example, I like using my slow cooker, and one slow cooker meal can take care of two nights. I can also double recipes and freeze certain things. Not every meal needs to be complicated. Soup and sandwiches make a simple and satisfying meal, with minimal cooking. I need to add those to my plan.
I will post my Month 1 Report in about two weeks, so I will share my progress then. Bon appétit!