Meal planning

Tonight I realized that I need to meal plan again.

I don’t really like to meal plan. The times I feel most at ease with my role as a homemaker are when I can be creative with dinners and use what we have. But I’ve also noticed that different seasons call for different things, and I am in a season of eating crap because I have not been preparing ahead and do not have the capacity to be at home enough to just “use what we have”.

Today was quite a day. We went to one of those outdoor fall fun centers this morning, and while we all had fun it got very hot and everyone left sort of a moaning mess. We had taken a lunch, but because I’m not great at planning ahead right now we didn’t have a big selection of foods in our cooler. It wasn’t a bad lunch, but it wasn’t amazing and I just snacked a few bites.

We left and settled in for our hour drive home (plus a 45 minute detour to pick up a Home Depot order.) Now, I might not have been prepared for dinner or lunch, but I did think to pack an iced coffee for the ride home because I knew I would be tired. I guzzled it down and answered all the questions the kids had.

At some point I began to feel the flutters of anxiety. I’m not sure what brought it on but I imagine the combination of heat, lack of water and food, and incessant talking of children all contributed. I have noticed that if I don’t nourish myself properly I am way more susceptible to anxiety.

I kept answering questions/chatted with the kids but for some reason that made me even more anxious. Then I began to feel anxious about being anxious. The anxiety would die down, but then I would remember and it would come back. And so on and so forth was the awful circle of anxiety.

At some point it began to hit me that I was on the verge of a panic attack and I pulled over on the side of the highway. I called Brad and he prayed and talked me through it. I felt much better but then as I got back into the routine of driving the panic reappeared. I had to drive through the most terrible section of construction feeling like I was going to lose it, but thankfully I was able to get off the highway once again and sit with the kids praying for the feelings to leave. I decided to forgo the highway and take the long road home, but I was pretty beat after the whole experience.

We finally made it (without the Home Depot order, unfortunately) and I just kind of crashed/caught up on some computer work. I knew deep down it would be a good idea to make dinner but didn’t even know where to start and just wanted someone to swoop in and do it for me. I’m certain that if I had a plan in place and meat thawed I could have mustered the energy to cook a good meal (which in the midst of a hard and anxious day is what is needed). I didn’t and instead I just told myself that we could go out to eat and that it didn’t really matter.

Of course it doesn’t really matter and we did go out to eat, but I now deep down I feel like a failure because for weeks I haven’t really been doing meals well and it seems to have all come together into this unprepared mess today.

So all that to say, tonight I am going to meal plan for the next week. In quieter seasons I love the creativity of getting some meat out to thaw in the morning and figuring out what to do with it as the day goes on. I love using up the stuff in our pantry and making something wholesome and new out of it, but I also need to accept that is not the season that I’m in right now. Not only do I still not even really have things in a “certain” place in our kitchen (reorganizing our kitchen so that it really works for us should probably be a priority as well), I definitely do not have the time each day to just “figure out” a good meal.

So even though I don’t want to, I will meal plan and go to the grocery to make sure we are stocked with nourishing and easy to prepare foods. I will take the time to clean out our fridge and pantry and rearrange so that I finally stop feeling like our new kitchen is someone else’s and instead make it work well for us.

Sometimes it just takes doing things we don’t like to make everything else run more smoothly.

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