Thursday, November 3, 2011

Being happy with a single step

As part of my efforts toward simplifying our life while still living out our values, I have been focusing on buying whole, healthy food in bulk to use in preparing meals for my family. Great idea, right? I mean, why spend extra money for prepared food that contains lots of unecessary ingredients, when I can make it better, cheaper, and healthier myself?

Because, perhaps, at 5 pm, I will realize that I am exhausted, my kids are hungry, and my whole, healthy food purchases aren't easily made into a quick dinner.

In theory, we are moving in the right direction, but in practice, it's been difficult to find the time to prepare meals from scratch before all of this wholesome food goes bad. We have invested in a large freezer to accomodate our bulk purchases, but suprise of all surprises, the freezer fills up with delicious food that is completely unhelpful to me in a pinch. Really, when I have fallen behind on life, can I take a frozen beef roast and put it on the table in 30 minutes? What about those whole, uncooked frozen vegetables?

Not so much.

So today, I set out to conquer...or at least beat into submission...all of my frozen food. I pulled out all of the pre-made meals and put them in my inside freezer for easy access on those tough days. My outside freezer then became storage for un-prepared food, organized by type (fruit, vegetables, cooking basics, bread, meat, etc.). Once I managed to find all of the food that was tucked under and inside and between each other, I took an inventory of what we have. That inventory has now become the basis for this month's meal planning. Wow. I'm planning meals for the rest of the month. How about that?

As always in my constant battle between perfectionist urges and total chaos, this effort comes down to acknowledging what I ultimately want, then taking baby steps toward that goal while being happy with the good enough in the meantime.Ideally our freezer would contain wholesome, delicious meals to pull out in a pinch, plus the bulk cooking items we keep there (like butter, cooked beans, and cheese). But right now, my freezer is pretty full of unhelpful food, my house is a mess from a busy weekend, and I don't have a whole day this month to set aside for tons of freezer cooking. So for now good enough is going to mean knowing what is in my freezer and how and when we will use it. My first goal is simply going to be to finish up much of what is in the freezer. Why? Because even in the freezer, food has a lifespan, and due to my sincere lack of forethought, the lifespan of this food is dwindling rapidly. So we will prepare easy meals from the freezer this month to make sure that food doesn't go to waste, and then I will focus on purchasing and preparing our favorite meals to keep handy in the freezer. Today was a small step, but it was a step in the right direction.

As always, my journey consists of taking one step after another. What's a source of stress in your life that you can't completely conquer right now, but that could be eased with a long term goal and a single step in that direction?