Who’s still excited about making more home-cooked meals?! I’ve shared a lot of tips and ideas for how I’ve managed to make home-cooking a priority for me and my family. In part 1 of the series, I wrote about setting realistic goals and specific things you may do to meet your goal. Then in part 2, I talked about getting support and tracking your progress. Here, I will talk about two more key ideas that will help you to succeed in your efforts to make more home-cooked meals: these two points are that we all slip sometimes and that it’s important to recognize our successes.
5. Recognize that a stumble is not failure
How many times have I forgotten to buy a key ingredient, despite my supposedly minutely-detailed shopping list? Forgot to look over a recipe that requires precooking and then “resting” for a few hours or overnight? The kids have a change of schedule that they “forgot” to tell me about. A deadline “sneaks up” (eh-hem) on me? The DD had a #!!?*@ bad day and really needs my support. I had a monumentally, super-sized suck-monster of a day and the thought of having to make dinner makes me want to bang my head repeatedly on the kitchen counter and sob.
It’s OK. Really. I have some “emergency” packaged ingredients ready to go in the pantry and the freezer for those times: spaghetti and tomato sauce or spaghetti with olive oil and Parmesan cheese, grilled cheese or chicken salad sandwiches, anyone? And the supermarket stocks delicious rotisserie chickens, fresh-baked baguettes, and a solid salad bar….. As Scarlett O’Hara said, “After all… Tomorrow is another day.”
The ironic thing is, of course, that my family thinks of these meals of last resort as treats, and they get excited for them, which helps to cheer me up, too! The important thing is: tomorrow, pick yourself up and try again.
6. Give yourself rewards
By all means, set a goal, like “I will make five home-made dinners a week for two months,” and when you reach that goal, go out for lunch as a treat, splurge on a dessert from the local bakery, buy that new vegetable peeler or pair of really cute socks (I like socks!) with the money you saved on your food bills. Then set a new, more challenging goal!
My family knows how important I think it is that they express gratitude for the meal they’re eating. They might comment on how much they like a particular dish, or at least show appreciation for the effort of preparing it (if the dish is “not their favorite”). I already mentioned this is part 2, enlist a buddy. And I get such the Psyched Foodie buzz when the DS comes home from swim practice, takes a huge whiff and exclaims, “Are we having stinky pork for dinner?! Awright!! I LOVE stinky pork!!” (Explanatory note: Stinky pork is what my kids called pork clay pot when they were younger. Redolent of fish sauce, shallots, garlic, ginger, and chili, pork clay pot fills the house with its mouth-watering fragrance as it braises.) It doesn’t get better than that.
For me, cooking has become a reward in itself. Sometimes, when I’m having a bad day, cooking actually makes me feel better. When everything seems out of control around me, chopping onions (and enjoying a good cry… because of the onions), turning a recipe into a meal, or stirring together a big pot of soup reminds me that I am a competent person. When my family sits down to dinner, I might feel like the rest of my day was an excrementous chasm of waste, but in this one hour, I was able to make something good happen.
So. Eating healthy. Making something real. Sharing a meal with my family. Creating lasting memories and traditions. Saving money. Wow! Sign me up!
What rewards do you give yourself for reaching a goal?