How I Stopped Dreading Dinnertime

By | HelloMornings Challenge | 7 Comments

Dinnertime is relentless, isn’t it? It comes every single evening without fail.

How many weeks in a row can we eat spaghetti and tacos and that easy crockpot potato soup before my family notices I only have three poorly executed recipes in my arsenal? (Also, it’s summer and 80+ degrees. Nobody wants to eat my potato soup right now.)

If it were up to me, we’d eat breakfast dishes every night. I make delicious cheesy eggs and perfectly browned pancakes. My bacon is just the right level of crispiness (that’s extra crispy, thank you very much), and let’s not discount the efficiency and cost effectiveness of a simple bowl of cereal.

I mean, think of the time we’d all save if we ate cereal every night. Seriously.

But I live in the real world with things like my family’s health and happiness to consider. You, too?

A few months ago, at the height of my dinnertime despair, I found myself relying on Subway, Panera, and Chipotle  for dinner far too often.  And every time I tried a new recipe from Pinterest it turned into a colossal failure. My children wouldn’t touch it, and my husband just happened to be a little less hungry on those nights. So what’s a girl who doesn’t like being in the kitchen to do when night after night, week after week these people I live with expect food on the table?

One day not long ago, I spotted a few friends on Instagram chatting and sharing about how much luck (and fun) they were having with Michael Symon’s Five in Five cookbook.  (That’s five ingredients and five minutes of cooking.)

Wait a minute, I HAVE that book in my kitchen.

Determined to catch their excitement for trying new things in the kitchen, I asked these friends for recommendations from the book. The commitment seemed low. I could handle five ingredients and five minutes.

I slowly started adding the recipes into the mix. Turns out, chefs write cookbooks and they include really good recipes! Who knew? Now I have a new outlook on dinnertime and a brand new arsenal of meals thanks to a few simple steps.

The Four Steps I Took To Banish Dinnertime Dread

  1. Make a commitment to choose one new recipe each week. Look for them in the cookbooks you already own (or those at your local library) and visit websites and blogs where the author makes a living writing and sharing recipes.
  2. Skim the ingredients list and directions to see if there’s an ingredient or technique you need to learn more about before tackling it. This is especially important if, like me, you’re still getting comfortable with meals that require more than two steps (open and heat).
  3. Add the ingredients to your grocery list and get excited for your new adventure. You can even involve your kids if they’re old enough. Tell them you’re trying something new and ask them to help you make it turn out just right. (Personally, I send my kids far from the kitchen when I’m trying a new recipe, so that last part may have been a pep talk for myself.)
  4. Ask your family for feedback and keep track of the recipes that work best so they find a way into your regular rotation.

And here’s a bonus step: Try to enjoy the process. When I stopped viewing dinnertime as a chore and started seeing it as a way to lovingly serve my family, my heart did a 180 degree turn. Now when I’m chopping shallots (I know what those are now! I tell you, I’m on an adventure!) and dicing tomatoes, I thank God for the mouths that I’m able to feed through His generous provision. What an awesome job we get to do, mamas.

Do you have trouble coming up with new meals to serve your family? Are you ready to join me on my adventure? Do you allow little helpers in your kitchen?

 

sarahSarah is a 30-something wife and mom of two preschoolers who lives imperfectly for Jesus. She’s a communication professional by day, word girl by night and always an appreciator of art. You can find her pursuing beauty and collecting stories at www.girlgrowsup.com.

 

The Secret To Fighting Seasons of Overwhelm

By | HelloMornings Challenge | 9 Comments

Note from Kat: This post is from a HelloMornings Challenge contributor, Sarah.

I’m in the middle of one of those seasons. You know, the so-busy-it-feels-like-every-second-of-the-day-is-scheduled kind of seasons.

I’m walking around in a constant state of worry that I’ll forget a crucial detail and all of my spinning plates will come crashing down.

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Recently, I found myself asking my four-year-old daughter to remind me of this or that, but I quickly decided that wasn’t the best approach when she started telling people, “My mommy forgets things a lot.”

I’m discovering these busy seasons are inevitable with raising a family, and I also know it will pass. But as the famous (in our house) bear hunt book says:  We can’t go over it. We can’t go under it. We gotta go through it!

So, instead of trying to escape the busy, I’m determined to do the best I can with the time and energy God gives me each day. I’ve gone back to my tried and true method for staying on top of my to-do list. Perhaps you’re in a similar season? If so, here are my tips for making it through with minimal plate-dropping.  

Step One: The Brain Dump The first thing I do when I’m feeling particularly overwhelmed is to sit down and make a list of every task, responsibility and commitment that is fighting for space in my brain. Nothing is too minor for this list. Put RSVP card in the mail, schedule oil change, finish the laundry, return library books… Seriously, anything that’s taking up brain power goes on the list! Once I make this master list, I find it useful to actually make a plan to get it all done…

Step Two: Plan Your To-Do’s I (still) use a paper planner, and the one I have separates each day into morning, day and night. This works well for me because I can list tasks on each day at the approximate time I should complete it. For example, if I know I need to bring cookies to a party on Thursday evening, I add “buy cookies” to my lunchtime errands on Thursday.

During my busiest seasons, I even plan things as simple as sending a follow-up email or calling to check in on a friend. If I think of something I have to do, but can’t get to it right away, I jot it down in my planner to get it out of my brain and onto the list. And every time I hear myself telling someone I’ll do something, that’s a cue to write it in my planner. That way, I’m not wasting brain space worrying about whether I’m forgetting something.

And if a paper planner isn’t your thing (you’re my hero), I found an iPhone app called Things that allows you to manage tasks in a similar way.

Step Three: Maintain the System It does no good to write a list of to-do’s if you don’t look at the list. Each morning I spend a few minutes reviewing my planner. I move yesterday’s tasks that I didn’t complete to the current day (or a future day, if appropriate). This method makes it hard to procrastinate for too long without annoying myself.

If I write the same unfinished task day after day, it’s a sign the task is either not important or that I’m putting it off and I just need to do it already. And the best part of all this planning? Crossing those babies off when they’ve been accomplished, of course!

What method of planning do you use when you are feeling overwhelmed with daily life activities? Click here to join the discussion!

Screen shot 2014-05-20 at 7.41.46 PMSarah is a 30-something wife and mom of two preschoolers who lives imperfectly for Jesus. She’s a communication professional by day, word girl by night and always an appreciator of art. You can find her pursuing beauty and collecting stories at www.girlgrowsup.com.