whats for dinner?

July 29th, 2008

What if I told you there were a way to spend more time with your kids, improve your sex life, and make your waistline thinner? Well, there is.

There is a story that has made it’s way around the internets about a professor, a mayonnaise jar, and two cups of coffee. It goes like this:

A Professor stood at his podium in front of the class with a few items. As class began, he picked up a handful of golf balls and filled the mayonnaise jar in front of him. He then asked the class if the jar was full, and they agreed it was.

The professor then picked up a handful of pebbles and poured those into the jar. He shook the jar lightly, and the pebbles filled the gaps between the balls. He, again, asked the students if the jar was full. Again, they agreed it was.

He repeats the process, now pouring in sand. And finally, pours in 2 cups of coffee.

The jar represents your life; the golf balls the important things in your life like your children and parents; the pebbles are your job, car, … The sand is the little things in life. If we fill the jar with sand and pebbles, first, there is no room for the golf balls. The same is true of life, if we spend too much time on the small things, we lose time for the big things. The coffee? Well, there is always room for a cup of coffee with a good friend.

I like this story because having been a project manager with a complicated life for so many years, I know that there are things that you need to mold your life around and there are many things that will simply fall into place. I married Doug because he shares many of the same values as I. Our families are our first priorities, our health is second. We live where we do because it is close to a lot of family and thanks to our location, we walk and ride most places, and there is no shortage of mind opening places to take our children. But, we do struggle to fit in a lot of basics. Between full careers, school, sports, and quality time, there is not a lot of time left over to drag our tired kids through three grocery stores or maintain the house.

Which brings me to the point of this post – meal planning – it is like a gentle shake to that jar of life, and amazingly, it gives you quality time for your kids, improves your sex life and makes your waist smaller!

It is a challenge in our household to take the 10 minutes required each week to plan out our menu. As we’re fast food averse, this doesn’t affect our waistlines, but it does mean that we’ll end up eating beans, avocados and cheese in some form 4 nights of the week, we lose 20 minutes of adult conversation to the very pressing topic of whats for dinner, there’s the inevitable walk to the store, perhaps with hungry and tired children in tow, and the edginess of the family in general because the kids want to eat and go back to playing, and we adults want to decompress and enjoy the kids… With a little forethought, we can eat very well, have more time with the kids, and we’ll all be in a better mood. All of that translates to more quality time with the kids, a better sex life and a thinner waistline. Told you. It sounds like an infomercial, eh?

This week began with a menu. We started early with a menu on Saturday in time for us to work the grocery shopping into our afternoon and have a leisurely Saturday evening meal of crab cakes, heirloom tomatoes and avocados. Sunday we ate grilled veggies and grilled tofu (marinated in soy sauce and thai red curry). Last night we dined on a scramble of spinach, eggs, feta, cherry tomatoes and good artisan bread from La Farine. Tonight we’ll be trying zucchini melts and either grilled salmon (if Doug is around) or tomato soup. … And yes, we’ve had more leisurely evenings, delicious meals, and the family has been happier because of the meal planning this week.

What? Stop rolling your eyes.

The rest of the week:
Seared Scallops with tomato/arugula/corn/avocado/parmasean salad
Tortilla Soup (the cheater way – 1 can black beans, 1 can pinto, 1 can corn, 1 can rotel tomatoes, 1 cup veggie broth, garlic, cilantro, jalapenos, chips, avocado, cheese, and hot sauce to please)
Homemade Pizza for movie night!!