I’m not sure if I’m a genius or an idiot, but starting our family’s summer challenge on a weekend where we would need to eat out a couple of times is a little bit hilarious. These times were special occasions planned well in advance, but still. I guess I could view it as easing us into this slowly, but that sounds a little silly. I do have to say, we did things A LOT different than we would normally, so that’s an improvement right there. For example, we made a bag of snacks for our drive on Saturday while on our way to the Sunset Magazine event so that we only spent money on one meal instead of two. Sunday’s lunch plans with friends have been in the works since March, so I also let that fall under the “special occasions” umbrella. Since the major point of this challenge is that we don’t just stop by and pick up food on the way home from work or from practices, I’m not mad about our special occasions this weekend. One of my biggest goals in doing this is to get us organized so that coming home at 8 o’clock at night doesn’t mean we have to eat out…or eat cold cereal.
Starting all of this in the summer is the best way for our family to make better habits. No school means the kids have more time to help. (And they do.) It means that we can work together to set up meals and lunches and snacks in the mornings and/or evenings. It also helps that they can eat an early dinner BEFORE practices instead of after. We are still super busy, but we’re not quite as pressed for time. All of this makes it a little easier on me since the summer is my busy time at work.
Even though I said that official start date was June 1st, we had been working towards this goal for the past couple of weeks. And we had been doing pretty well. It helped me out a ton that The Dude has tackled the past few Costco trips since he has every other Friday off. And a couple days after his last trip, I took one of Sarah’s genius ideas and implemented it for our own family. It’s not as detailed as what Sarah does, but this list has helped us keep track and be better about meal planning:
This has been a game changer. I’m not even joking. You would think that just opening your fridge would give you a glimpse of what food you can choose from, but if you’re anything like me? It doesn’t help at all. Having a list of what’s in your fridge and dinner ideas makes dinner planning so much easier. It also helps me keep track of what we have so that I can be better at making sure that food doesn’t go to waste. Because let’s not talk about how often I forget about that asparagus I bought and now it’s a slimy mess in the garbage. I mean, I know we won’t be perfect at this, but I couldn’t believe how much the list on the fridge helped.
Also, I’m not going to sit here and pretend that everything on that list is the epitome of health and wellness. ONE CHALLENGE AT A TIME, MY FRIENDS. But it’s a huge start in that direction.
Now…if your family is like mine, they are more likely to each fruits and vegetables if they are cut up and ready to go. Even if that means staying up way past your bedtime to make a fruit salad.
I also remind myself that nothing about this has to be perfect. So using a small scoop to do half-assed versions of melon balls is JUST AS GOOD as cutting the entire watermelon. When you’re rushing around making lunches, making the huge mess of cutting a watermelon is unappealing. Weird looking melon balls work fine. They just do.
When we’re trying to get out the door to school or to a (very, very) early softball tournament, we can pack a lot of healthy goodness and even a bit of protein in our smoothies. (May I direct your attention to my new blender that works so well and I’m probably in love.) Smoothies are great when your kids don’t want to eat a full breakfast because it’s so damn early in the morning and they’re about to go play 34 games of softball. Or 3. Something like that.
SO. Those are the things that have helped us get started with our challenge so far. We’re supposed to grill up some ribs tonight, but since I’ll be driving across town to take a kid to practice, we may do that tomorrow. But the nice thing about having the ideas and the ingredients listed on the fridge is that a lot of the guess work is already done and I won’t feel so stressed about trying to figure out what’s for dinner. And one less thing to stress about totally makes my day.