Bringing some Zen to your grocery shop
Like many people, I’m an odd combination of organised and disorganised.
It’s rare to find someone that has their life together in all areas but there’s no doubt that having things well-planned is extremely calming.
I’ve always known this at work, but only recently felt the benefits at home. We moved recently and in the process I had an absolutely massive purge of all the stuff that had built up over 14 years in one house. The new place is a little bigger, so not only do we have less stuff but more space. It has felt so liberating and had a knock-on effect into lots of other areas too.
I didn’t realise what a luxury space was. The kids have their own rooms now and the sibling arguments have decreased by about 90 per cent. I keep finding them together in one of their bedrooms but there’s something about knowing they have their own space to go back to that has completely changed the dynamic.
Last week, I found myself shopping at a leisurely pace. This is unusual because I’m usually in a frenzy, on my way from somewhere and on to somewhere else. This time, I had the time to pick out five meals and think ahead to lunch boxes and breakfast and snacks, all in one go. It was heaven (that makes me feel old)! I know some of you will have had this down for years but I’d never quite reached that level of domestic bliss.
When I came home I was so pleased with myself that I wrote all the meals, snacks and breakfast options up on a white board and popped it in the kitchen. Instead of raiding the fridge and cupboards randomly, the kids have been consulting the board first. It’s way less mess and a lot easier for everyone. It’s also a good exercise in promoting healthy balance. Most of what is on there is healthy, but there are some less-healthy things too. Once those are gone, they are scratched off the board and the kids know that we have to make it through the rest of the week with just the other supplies. So they can ration the sweeter stuff as they wish. No more policing on my side. That’s heaven too!
The kids have also been taking turns to pick what’s for dinner, based on the choices on the board. When my clients have fussy eaters, I always recommend giving as much choice back to the kids as possible. If you think about it, young children have very little control over their lives. They are told when to wake up, when to go to bed, what to wear, how to behave, what things they can touch, where they can go. Food sometimes becomes the place where they say no. They get to decide – not you! Because, short of literally shoving the food down their throats, you can’t force them to eat something.
The problem is, giving a child an open-ended choice is just asking for trouble. If you say “what would you like for dinner?” you might get “marshmallows and chocolate chips” in response. Instead you can say, “These are the options we have, what would you like for dinner tonight?” Or something like, “We are having chicken tonight, we could have it with rice or pasta – which would you like to choose?” Options are good, but offering closed options sets you up for more success.
It's been a while since I had a fussy eater, but I learnt a lot along the way and I thought we could revisit that next week. If you have any specific challenges or questions regarding a fussy eater in your life let me know. Meanwhile, here are some general tips to bring a little more Zen to your grocery shop. Now I’ve started I’m never going back to my old ways!
Bringing some Zen to your grocery shop
If you can put some thought in before you arrive in the store, you will have much more success. Just make an old-fashioned list and go for it! For those of you who like a little tech, check out the Plan to Eat app. This allows you to drag and drop recipes into an online calendar. Then you select the number of days you want to shop for and it makes you a shopping list. It’s easy to save recipes from your favourite websites to your profile which makes the whole process even easier. You can even build a “store cupboard” so you don’t overbuy staples unnecessarily (ie a recipe that calls for olive oil won’t prompt you to buy olive oil if the app knows you have it in your store cupboard. Clever!)
Think on your feet
We’re in Bermuda so, despite the best intentions, you might arrive at the store and find that they are out of several keep things on your list. This is where it helps to have a little time so you can think on your feet clearly rather than panic-buying another option or skipping it altogether. Be flexible and willing to substitute!
Put up a menu in the kitchen
As you unpack, pop a menu up in the kitchen. Whether it’s on a scrappy piece of paper or on a white board, it’s great if there is one central point that your family can refer to.
Take advantage of leftovers
Make it easy on yourself. Plan at least one meal where you can over-cater, and use leftovers for lunches, another dinner or to freeze for another time. Roasting one chicken? Roast two and use one for deli meat through the week. It’s so much healthier than processed options and is so much more delicious.
Takeout makes life easy on busy nights but it can also throw you off your game when you are trying to be more healthy. I love the Miles deli as a solution as it’s just as easy but with really healthy options. For busy nights just buy grilled salmon or chicken, some mashed sweet potatoes and some grilled veg. Pop it all in the microwave and you are good to go. If the kids need something different, they have a really great shepherd's pie and steamed veggies – just like you’ve done it yourself! Don’t forget the Nutrifit fridge too, healthy to-go meals that are pre-portioned and cover all your bases.