This year, one of my resolutions was to eat healthier – but that is so vague. So I said that I would cook 5 meals a week and limit eating out to once a week. We used to be at McDonald’s twice a week.
TWICE A WEEK.
I wasn’t exactly proud of turning my children’s blood into sludge. But it was hard and stressful to think of cooking twice a day for my shitty kids (we homeschool so I don’t get the option of a school lunch).
This year THUS FAR, since I started using the Instant Pot, we have been to McDonald’s twice and Burger King once. (I have eaten out a few more times, but not at these places. And definitely without the children.)
When I look at these numbers, I am astounded.
Let us pause here and give me the praise and adulation I need and crave (but not necessarily deserve).
Anyhow. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?
1) I decided to make this change in our lifestyle and I set an easily attainable goal of cooking just five times a week.
Even though part of my goal was to NOT eat out (or nuggets/pizza/crackers), it is hard to track “negative space.” So instead, I tracked “positive space” and recorded in my ink+volt planner when I cooked.
And after awhile, it became easier and easier to cook and I added more and more until it was silly to track the times I cooked because quite frankly, that was now my default mode.
2) I knew that since I am inherently lazy, I needed to support my decision by setting myself up to succeed instead of fail.
These hacks and soup templates are boring but honestly, I’m not trying for creative here. I only want to make sure my family has reasonably tasty and nutritious food at least twice a day.
3) Cook. Eat what I cook.
Yes, I need to specify eating what I cook because I used to be notorious for not eating the food I made and thus, I would go out to eat a lot after the kids were in bed.
And that’s it. As a result, here is how my life has changed:
1) Thinking about what we are going to eat for lunch and dinner no longer plagues me throughout the day.
I am not exaggerating when I say the thoughts of what we were going to eat for lunch and dinner were so painful that I would avoid it entirely and then my kids would end up eating quesodillas or nuggets or pizza yet again.
And now that I no longer think about it, this psychic pain is gone and I am much more cheerful. Plus, the kids now have consistent meals and meal times and are much better about eating food.
2) My children eat.
This is another minor miracle.
Now that my children are used to eating what I cook, they eagerly (although sometimes, not so eagerly) ask what’s for lunch or dinner. They also like to help prepare the food and look at the soups and noodles.
Keep in mind, we went through a really rough two to three weeks where the kids absolutely refused to eat what I cooked. But after that ramping up/initiation period, my kids actually eat the food I put in front of them. I mean, they’re not perfect, but it’s still a million bjillion times better than it used to be.
Thus, another source of conflict and pain has been mostly removed.
3) I can now train my kids to put away their bowls into the dishwasher.
Now that the eating dilemma has been solved and I am no longer emotionally exhausted from trying to get them to eat their damn food already, I am training them to bring their used bowls/cups/utensils to the sink.
The older kids also rinse them off and I am training Cookie Monster to put his stuff in the dishwasher. In fact, they are at this weird stage where they want to wash dishes and put things away in the dishwasher or put things back where they belong.
So weird. But hey. Who am I to complain and deprive them of wanting to be more independent and responsible?
4) I spend less money on eating out and groceries.
Because I am now consistently cooking, I no longer throw away 100% of the produce I buy. Thus, I waste less food and spend less money on groceries. Now, I buy only what we need and resist the urge to “stock up.”
5) Eating out is no longer as appealing.
The food tastes different, too. Now, I sometimes try to see how long I can go without eating out.
WHO AM I?
6) I am much happier.
First, because I no longer feel guilty about mealtimes – whether it be over not serving the kids any nutrition whatsoever or not eating with the children or yelling at them to eat their food already – I don’t have to deal with that pain of not being a good mother.
Second, I no longer feel the psychic pain of planning or procrastinating or figuring out what we will eat. It’s boring, but I don’t care. I follow my formula and perhaps make three or four other dishes that we rotate throughout the week.
Third, I have much less pain involving my children eating. They are mostly used to the things I make now and will even eat the vegetables.
Now, all the pain revolves around my kids fidgeting or playing instead of eating during meal times. But this is still considerably less painful than it was before.
Alright, friends. I think that is the last of my love letters to the Instant Pot. If you have an Instant Pot, are you as enamored as I am? Let me know in the comments.