I want to tell you something:
Sometimes, I think about what I would like someone to say to me, and I try to write that here. (I figure we’re a lot alike, you and me.)
And so, today I want to write about how we are all freaking out right now.
Maybe you aren’t. That’s OK. Come back later.
But if you are – if you are spinning because it’s almost time to start school, and everything is so far from where you want it to be, and you have no idea what you want things to look like, and your kids seem to think Chex Mix is a real food that they should eat all the time, Welcome.
I wish I could give you a cup of tea and a hug.
Instead, I will tell you one thing I have learned: You can’t fix it all at once.
I know this because I try all the time. And it never works.
So instead, let’s break things down a bit, shall we?
And let’s talk about food.
I think a lot about food.
My current predicament is that I just did a cleanse, and it went well, and I feel better – like A LOT better, but now I don’t know what to actually eat.
The cleanse reinforced that sugar and dairy and not my friends, and that maybe gluten isn’t either. I don’t eat animals anyway, but sometimes I can eat their eggs, but not right now.
This feels like a lot to not eat, doesn’t it?
And what about the hygge of a chocolate bar?
And don’t even get me started on feeding my family. My husband is diabetic, and I am raising a teen, who has recently asked me, “Is it normal that I eat so much but don’t really gain weight?”
It would not be normal for a 40-year-old woman probably, not that I know any, but I have been assured that it’s to be expected for a growing boy, especially after 3 hours of swimming.
And so this is where I am starting:
A few weeks ago, I got pretty desperate and asked some pals what they give their kids for lunch. It helped a lot, because I hate lunch. It’s right in the middle of the day and breaks up everything. Rude.
So I have decided that lunch needs to be easy.
I’ve also decided that I need to plan to have snacks on hand, because of the teen. Otherwise, he will start tackling the beehive in the backyard like a Grizzly.
Speaking of bears, my solution to mornings is fruit. While we are getting back on track with waking up all around the same time (teens, man!), I need to make sure there is some fruit ready to eat, or else someone in the house will eat jerky, and, it is not me, the peaceful, currently confused vegetarian.
Finally, I am returning to Kim John Payne’s advice in my very favorite parenting book – to come up with meal “themes,” and to not feel bad about it.
Sometimes, I feel guilty if our food gets too boring, because I have been blessed with adventurous children who really will try anything and who eat most things.
So I plan a type of food for each dinner, say “pasta” or “soup,” not an exact meal, except tacos, which everyone here could eat 4 times a day.
In case you are wondering what that looks like in practice, so am I, so here we go:
- I have established a time to meal plan and make a grocery list. It works best to do this after a large breakfast Sunday. Syrup puts my people in a good mood. I ask everyone for meal ideas and food they would like for the week. Then I try to remind them of little things like how chips aren’t lunch, and we are not shopping at a gas station, so let’s diversify.
- I use these two helpful planning items to plan our meals/snacks and keep track of what we’ve run out of.
- I have set up rotations for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and I’ve made lunch easy.
- I’ve made up a list of snacks to keep on hand.
- I do a little some meal prep on weekends, but not a lot because it gives me Sunday Panic. So instead, I try to do extra when I can, like if I am chopping vegetables for lunch, I think ahead to what can be chopped for dinner or snacks.
- One of the tips my pals gave me is to keep fresh fruits and vegetables available, which will immediately boost the nutritional value of frozen pizza or mac and cheese to 1000 percent, even for phosphorus. #science
- And finally, I am allowing myself one freak-out lunch, and one panic dinner per week. That means take out or “Frozen Mess” (i.e. 2 frozen chicken strips, 4 pieces of frozen fish, 12 tater tots, and half a bag of frozen peas, etc.) or frozen pizza. The goal here is to get everyone fed and not cry.
- Oh – and, right now, I am staying with eating in a way that is making me feel good, which is a little weird*, but when you are a busy homeschooling mama, I think it makes sense to make sure you don’t feel like a run-down monster. So I will happily make my family Sunday morning pancakes (I bought a mix – no one complained and no one died!), while I eat my chia pudding. It works, for now.
For easy reference, I have created a “Meals” section in my bullet journal with ideas for food rotations and snacks. I’ll share that here because sometimes I think the hardest thing is just getting started, so feel free to borrow what works for you and leave the rest.
- eggs and toast
- muffins and smoothies
- yogurt and fruit
- mac and cheese
- grilled cheese
- bagels with cream cheese or peanut butter
- hummus and pita chips
- cheese and crackers
W: salads (soup when it gets colder)
F: rice (risotto, fried rice, stir-fry, etc.)
S: I work most of the day, so either my husband and the kids plan something, or we do something easy
Ready-to-eat fruits and vegetables:
- red peppers
- berries (in season)
- apples (in season)
- citrus (in season)
- stone fruit (in season)
- string cheese
- crackers or snack mix
- granola bars
- fruit leather
So there we go – Step 1 to getting back on track. Here is Step 2!
*It turns out that being an accidental gluten-free vegan is not THAT weird. If you want some good resources, I suggest:
- The Oh She Glows Cookbook
- Oh She Glows Every Day
- Deliciously Ella Every Day
- Minimalist Baker’s Everyday Cooking
And wondering where I get all my weird ingredients? Thrive Market! Get 25 percent off your first order there by using this link.