good life by kelly sill
Part of cultivating a good life is setting time aside each week to plan family meals.
When I was growing up, I remember grocery shopping with my mom, a single mother of three little girls. My youngest sister would be seated in the shopping cart while my middle sister and I would walk along side, trying to be on our best behavior. Mom guided us up and down the aisles as she filled the cart with groceries for the next two weeks, occasionally giving us “the eye” if we stepped out of line. Now this scene may not be anything out of the ordinary, but looking back on these memories, I realized that Mom did her grocery shopping without a meal plan or even a list!
Grocery shopping without knowing what I was going to cook? Just the thought of that makes me start to hyperventilate!
Since the day Chris and I were married (over 26 years ago), I have been a meal-planner. Being a brand new wife, I was a little nervous to cook for him, so I made sure I had many of the recipes from my mom, mother-in-law, and grandmothers that we both grew up with. I would select those I wanted to cook and make my shopping list from them. Before the kids came along, meal-planning was easy. Fast forward a few years and throw kids into the mix, planning weekly meals required a bit more thought. I wanted to make sure meals were balanced, healthy, appealing, and tasted good. This meant pulling out recipe books I started to collect and flipping through magazines to search for recipes that would soon become family favorites. I would sit down with a notebook and write a day of the week on every third line or so. Then I would pencil in what I would make for dinner beside each day (I would also make a note of which book or magazine the recipe was from). The ingredients in the recipes made up the grocery list I would take to the store. And because we had a budget set aside for groceries, I even would put a little “C,” next to those items on the list that I had coupons for.
Over time, this process became a weekly or bi-weekly habit. And although it took a few hours to plan our family meals, it was a process that I truly enjoyed. I love to cook, so finding new recipes to try or cooking techniques to experiment with is something that I found fulfilling. It was comforting to me knowing I was creating something healthy for my family to enjoy at the dinner table.
You would think that since our boys are now grown and have moved out of the house that I would have given up planning meals just for the two of us. Not a chance. Technology has taken over and I now find and save recipes, plan our meals, and create a grocery list through apps on my iPad (check out Paprika — it ROCKS!), cutting the time it took to plan meals in half! I’m experimenting even more in the kitchen, finding new recipes that have become new favorites.
All this planning does have a downside, however. Chris keeps telling me that the meals I am cooking are better than a restaurant. Hmmmm…although I love the compliment, maybe I should burn something so we can go out once in a while and let someone else do the clean up!
Kelly Sill is part of our 2015 Creative Team. She and her husband of 26 years are living as “empty nesters” in Florida.