The key to getting dinner on the table during the week is advance planning. At the end of the working day, if I don’t have some kind of game plan for the night’s dinner, I’m completely at a loss. At those moments, the pull of ordering in or getting take-out becomes too strong to fight against. Picking up the phone is mindless. Thinking of what to have, making a mental list and then going to the store requires way too much motivation and mental capacity at the end of the day. On weeknights, I want to grab stuff out of the fridge, roll up my sleeves and get started. The less I have think, the better.
To that end, I plan my meals over the weekend so I can go grocery shopping once and be done with it. I plan out meals for Sunday through Friday nights, reserving more time over the weekend to prepare for the week if I can. It’s a system that works well for me and gets dinner on the table painlessly and seamlessly.
Every now and then, however, my system screws me.
After a weekend away, I am completely discombobulated. My fridge is empty, I have no planned menus for the week. I’m completely winging it, and winging it poorly. I have no fresh veggies, the only protein I have is frozen chicken breasts and my pantry is practically bare. How did I let this come to pass?! What kind of person would do this to her family?
I feel like a stranger in my own kitchen. What does this utensil do? What’s this pot for? I wonder if I still remember how to turn on the stove. I feel like I couldn’t even make toast at this point. My appetite has turned on me as well. I’m in a constant state of dissatisfaction; craving something but not knowing what it is. How did I get here?
My husband’s been bringing me bits and pieces from the store as I think of them: 2 lemons one day, some cheese the next. But they lack cohesiveness, I can’t seem to bring anything together. I can’t seem to get it together either.
Thank God, it’s Friday. Tomorrow, I will enter the sliding doors of Whole Foods, armed with a grocery list that reads like a map of the store: First produce, then meat, then bread, cheese, baby food and finally dairy. Etched along the side of this prized list will be the short-hand notes telling me what to eat when. My fridge will be full, my pantry re-stocked and my mind settled. At last, I will cook again!