Summer is over. School has started. The equinox is here. Fall has officially begun. The weather is cooler, especially at night and the days are noticeably shorter. I look forward to September in Maine because it is a lovely month, usually very sunny and warm but not too hot or humid. It’s not summer, though. I like that hot, humid summer weather when I can relax and enjoy it.
So I first need to mourn and accept the end of summer before I can enjoy September. As soon as I accept that summer is over, I can welcome the start of school and our fall routine.
As much as I love summer, the lack of a schedule was hard on my family. And already, after only a few weeks of school, it feels good to be back to our school routine. I never thought I would say that. When my daughter started kindergarten, I was annoyed that we had to adhere to the school schedule. Now I am so happy that school has started again, and we have more structure to our days.
One thing I love about summer. My family has a 100-year-old house on a lake with a large, wrap around, west facing porch where we gather every day. I have a large extended family, five siblings, and all of them spend as much time as possible at our lake house.
We swim, read, relax and enjoy the sun during the afternoon, and then eat our evening meal together watching the sunset. With friends and extended family, it is not unusual for 15-20 people to be present for these evening meals.
It can be more than a little chaotic with all those people, but I love it. As nice as it is to be returning to a schedule for school, cooking and eating at home with my much smaller family of three, I already miss the big family meals and summer sunsets.
Cooking for three is much simpler, but then all the meal planning and preparation is up to us. Shopping and food preparation takes time. Time is valuable and even though I enjoy cooking most of the time, I am always running out of time or the prep always takes longer than I think it should.
I try to make use of this valuable time by catching up with my husband and daughter, hearing about what happened during their day, learning something new by listening to a podcast or just watching something entertaining.
One thing I hate though is that question of what to have for dinner lingering in the back of my mind. It hangs over me all day. If I don’t have a plan in the morning for our evening meal, I feel like I have already lost.
So make a plan. How hard is that? This seems like a no-brainer and an obvious strategy, but yet I haven’t been doing it. Do you? And by a plan I mean specifics. Now I start the week with a general idea of what I intend to make for meals during, but that isn’t working for me.
All too often I leave the house in the morning with no idea of what I am going to have for dinner and all day I sense that nagging feeling. Inevitably some time in the afternoon I get this text from my husband- Dinner? And then I get that sinking feeling; I don’t know.
When I have a plan, I can head straight to the kitchen in the evening and get going so even if there is prep I should have time to get it done. I like doing the prep when I have time and direction. It’s meditative in a way, quite satisfying, and it’s a good excuse to watch something fun.
When I don’t have a plan, I feel exhausted, avoid the kitchen and sit on the couch instead while I try to come up with some ideas. Sometimes I end up with something good, healthy and tasty. Other times not so much.
So, I need your help. What do you do during the week to prepare healthy, nutritious meals in a timely fashion? What are your favorite, go-to, weeknight meals? Please share with me in the comments.