The other day I was meeting with my nutrition/fitness coach, Allison. I was having a roadblock implementing some changes she’s recommended for food. I shared with her that I was feeling overwhelmed with life; new city, new workout routine, new baby, new family routines for school and such. Everything was new! I hated to admit it, but it just felt like there wasn’t room in my brain to change anything else.
She was great, listened to what I was saying and met me where I’m at.
Why was mealtime dragging me down so much?
Preparing meals is never ending. It has to happen every day, numerous times. When you’re just feeding yourself, popcorn or cereal can easily count as a meal. But when kids are in the equation you feel an obligation to provide a well rounded “healthy” meal (hot dogs and baby carrots count as healthy right?!).
My issue with this was a little more complex than just the repetitive nature. I also LOVE to cook. Food is one of my passions. During the day, my mind wanders into my fridge and plans a lovely, delicious meal for the evening. I love a cooking challenge, foraging on random items and being able to pull them into something delicious. It is something I take pride in.
This love of food combined with my young kids presents even more challenges. First, the little whippersnappers don’t seem to appreciate my lovely complex items. I do not prepare separate meals and give them whatever creative dish I’ve made. But it can be disheartening to spend love, time and energy to prepare something that is happily passed over for say, toast or apple slices.
And let's go even deeper into this issue and address the internal clock of a toddler. They want dinner early. Five pm early. I remember growing up thinking only old people eat dinner that early. Oh, and young families. Ever go out around that early evening hour? Who’s there? Yep, grey hairs and families with young kids.
So that is where I’m at in my life right now. Eating dinner around five (that is the goal, so if we actually eat before six I consider it a success). It is hard to admit, all the cook kids seem to eat after seven. It looks like I have years ahead of myself with an early schedule.
So back to my trainer. She pressed home that I need to make weeknight meals as easy, yet healthy as possible. We picked out meals I ALREADY MAKE that were simple and tasty. That was key - no learning new menus, no buying new ingredients. These were things we already liked. And we assigned each meal to a day.
And all of a sudden a switch flipped in my brain.
I saw dinnertime not as a creative outlet but as a recurring task. My analytic business mind took over and I realized I needed make mealtime as efficient as possible.
Now that I was approaching this issue as though it were a problem in my businessI needed to:
- Minimize prep so I could have dinner on the table early.
- Have a set menu to make grocery shopping easier.
- Make the meals so simple, my entry level cook (husband) could make dinner sometimes.
- Please all the customers (hopefully) so they ate the food and were happy
- See if any parts could be outsourced (aka already prepared items)
The result? Dinnertime Bliss.
By stepping back and looking at mealtime the same way I'd analyze a business issue, I was able to decrease stress, free up more time and save money with planned grocery shopping.
Yes, I am much happier
I make sure to start the week off right. Monday is Rotisserie Chicken night. The local Whole Foods has rotisserie chickens on sale for $6.99 each, you really can’t go wrong.
Friday we eat out (outsource!) because I’m the type of gal who loves the energy of Friday nights, even if it means all FIVE of us are going out. **side note, many happy hours go until 6pm so there is an upside to eating super early that we get to enjoy!**
At this stage of my life, I had to shift my mindset about mealtime.
I came to realize that food for my family needed to be about simple nourishment, and not a creative endeavor. All the meals are easy, basic and likable by all.
Having a set menu was something others have suggested but I’ve resisted for years, mainly because of I love to be creative in the kitchen.
But I have given myself one meal on the weekend that I get to putz in the kitchen, invite people over, and go all out. It brings me joy both to cook and to share the fruits of my labor, especially with people who appreciate it.
Now I have released my attachment to being creative during the week and I have a schedule of what meal is on each day with rotating sides. I don't have to stress about what we are going to have for dinner. Creativity has its place and I still have nights to eat out. It all feels pretty great. A good mix while I’m growing a business and raising kids.
It seems so simple, because it is.
Hmm…. Are there other area I can apply this lesson to?
Maybe I need to do this for my wardrobe; simplify the process of getting dressed. I’ll let you know if I decide to do that. For now, I’m still enjoying my new dinner menu.
Have you learned any lessons from your business that you’ve implemented into your personal life? I’d love to hear about it.