I always feel melancholy at the end of the Christmas season. I
mean, does anyone actually enjoy un-decorating their house?
It’s depressing. Still, I manage to look to January with optimism
and excitement. There’s something energizing about the chance
to start the year anew. This year, I resolved to organize and sim-
plify my life. Sounds simple enough, right? I know I will need
to focus on one area at a time and decided to first tackle dinner.
Though we both can cook, my husband and I have never been
planners. I tend to dig out a recipe that includes most of the
ingredients I have on hand. He never follows a recipe, but has
an impressive knack for making a delicious meal out of the ran-
dom items in the fridge and pantry. Between the two of us, we
can usually manage to get a hot meal on the table.
Even though this method seems to work, it can be quite stressful.
Day after day, the cycle repeats. I glance at the clock, it’s after
5:00, and I have no idea what to cook for dinner. All of our meat
is frozen and I’m out of time. I scramble around the kitchen like
a maniac, trying to piece together the components of a recipe.
In an effort to end this pattern, I enacted my first meal plan on
the first Sunday of the new year. I have to tell you, it did not feel
simple. I began by cleaning out the fridge. We scoured through
the weekly ads to determine what was on sale at our local gro-
cery stores. I combed through recipes to choose seven meals
that all four of us would eat, and compiled a lengthy grocery
list. I headed to the store and returned with a trunk full of bags.
I reviewed my chosen recipes and determined what could be
done ahead of time. I roasted some chicken breasts to store
in the fridge. I washed and dried the vegetables and herbs. I
boiled a few eggs to keep handy for snacks and salads. I made
a vinaigrette dressing. In just a few hours, all of the work was
done and I proudly displayed the dinner plan on the fridge.
What was the result? We experienced an entire week of glorious,
stress-free dinners! We all benefited from the plan. My son appre-
ciated planning his week around dinner and having leftovers to
eat between work and class. Nothing went to waste. My daughter
tried (and liked!) some new recipes. My husband never had to
dash to the store for groceries. I experienced dinner bliss.
After just two weeks, I’m a meal-planning convert. I’m excited to
do more research and tweak the process each week. What seemed
daunting on Sunday was worth all of the extra effort because we
reaped the benefits all week long. And I can check organize and
simply dinner off of my resolution list!