30 Days to a Better Me

Main stream advertising has gotten the best of me. Right after July 4th our local grocery stores started putting out Halloween candy and after Halloween was over all the Christmas decorations came out. This got me thinking about New Year's Resolutions at Thanksgiving.

I realized that I've fallen into a comfortable rut. I go to work, come home, watch tv, catch up on social media, go to sleep and repeat the next day. I was never a person who loved to cook nor was I the person who had ever learned to cook. It didn't surprise me when I met someone, that she would be a great cook. I love to eat good food, I'm just not a fan of cooking it or cleaning up after. My partner for many years indulged me in fantastic meals and even did all of the dishes afterwards. I knew how lucky I was but I also knew that it couldn't last. Now 10 years later, we realized that out of 21 meals a week, we were mostly eating out or calling in a delivery order. This of course is not only expensive but not healthy. We needed to break this rut somehow. We've talked about this many times and we've vowed to try and cook more but it never really stuck. I decided to take a page out of mainstream marketing and start a New Year's Resolution on November 25th. My resolution was simple, cook and clean up every meal for the next 30 days. Everyone who knew me laughed especially my co-workers who I order in lunch with daily. My partner vowed to eat whatever was put in front of her and not complain (or make fun of me). At first I was timid about what to make or if it was going to come out ok but over time I grew more confident and even more daring about my meals.  Here's what I learned from my 30 day challenge:

  1. Make a plan- I went food shopping on the weekends with a plan and a list of what would be on the menu for the following week. This cut down on the obligatory 5pm phone call to my partner asking what's for dinner. I also knew ahead of time what each meal's ingredients were and how much prep time each meal needed.
  2. Prep in advance- My more successful meals were those that I was able to prep in the morning or the night before. I have a busy schedule and I knew what got me into trouble in the past was coming home and standing in front of the fridge saying there's nothing to eat. Of course, I had just spent $200 two nights before at the grocery store so that was totally impossible. It's just easier to call in an order of Chinese food. I knew if I wanted to succeed at this challenge it was going to mean me getting up a few minutes earlier to make lunches and get home a few minutes earlier so we could eat at a reasonable time. I cut up veggies in advance and packaged leftovers in easy to grab containers. I got ingredients ready to go in the morning for dinner.
  3. Make meals that can be reconstituted into something else- I have to say I'm really good at this. One week I made two meals on Sunday for a week that I knew was going to be really busy at work. I made a pound of ground chicken breast with a bunch of veggies and mashed potatoes. That turned into my take on Shepard's Pie the next night which we ate several other times throughout the week. I also made a big batch of chicken with fajita seasoning which was eaten as fajitas for the first night, quesadillas another night and nachos for a lunch.
  4. Eating out is more special- when I told my partner about my "Thanksgiving Resolution" she was very excited. However, she said what about pizza night? Every Friday night we always order pizza, it's our tradition. I conceded to allow us some leeway in this challenge. We were allowed Friday night pizza night and we always take Grandpop out for breakfast on Saturday mornings.  We also decided that we would have 2 floating options to eat out over the next 30 days.  I have to say, I looked forward to pizza night more than I ever have. The pizza even tasted better! We also used our 2 meals out. Both times we went out it felt so special and we didn't take it for granted. We planned where and when we were going and then looked forward to doing it.
  5. Cooking makes for a happier marriage- I didn't realize how much this rut was effecting our marriage. I felt guilty for never cooking or cleaning and my partner must have resented that the responsibility always fell on her. I'm sure this is why we were constantly ordering out just to avoid those feelings. For the past 30 days, we came home put away our technology, cooked a great meal together and sat at the dining room table and talked while we ate and then together we cleaned up. The time together has brought us closer and happier and more willing to do things for each other.
  6. I am proud of myself for doing this challenge for 30 days considering I can't remember the last time I made a New Year's resolution and was still keeping it on January 31st. There is also something about the short term of the 30 days. New Year's resolutions seem so daunting. 365 days is a long time; I can do anything for 30 days! 

    Now that it's really time to make New Year's resolutions, I think I'll take another cue from the media and start making plans for Valentine's Day.

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