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Welcome to the first Kitchen Transitions column for Plotting A New Course!
When the children have left the nest, it’s difficult to rearrange your viewpoint from one of caring for many to one of caring for yourself. There are so many transitions, so many details we fail to pay attention to, important things that we might lose sight of. Kitchen transitions are just some of those changes but if you don’t address the changes you need to make, you will spend more than you need to.
Because I’m writing about Kitchen Transitions, I want to help you become more aware of your kitchen’s role in taking care of yourself. It’s important that you stay active, and healthy as you work toward a new normal.
Here are a few Kitchen Transitions tips that will help guide you through learning to take care of yourself and your budget.
Whether from oversight, extra helpings or from a place of sadness, it is all too easy to expand our portions (and our waists!) accidentally.
If you are used to cooking for a crew and haven’t downsized meal sizes, it might seem fine to have that extra serving.
Be sure you’re hungry, as opposed to bored or sad. We’ve all fallen victim to our emotions and learning to live in an empty nest is an emotional time.
MAKE A PLAN FOR YOUR LEFTOVERS
Creating a plan for leftovers will make dinnertime easier to deal with.
Until you relearn all of your newlywed couple skills, there may be an abundance of leftovers.
Mindfully utilizing leftovers will dramatically save your food budget.
If you keep the same food budget, you can eat twice with each meal you’ve prepared. You’ve just doubled your food budget!
Here are some ideas on how you might plan to use those delicious extra portions:
Bring them to a Potluck – If you have 4 servings of a ready-to-go offering, you have a stress-free way to go to your next potluck.
Fellowship – Do you have a neighbor or friend who has just given birth, is ill, or is dealing with a difficult situation? A prepared meal is always a great way to lend support.
Freeze them – Most dishes, when wrapped well in freezer-proof containers, will hold up for several weeks and can be thawed in the microwave on a particularly busy day or when you just don’t feel like cooking.
Have a leftovers night – Clean out the fridge and everyone eats their favorite meal of the week. It’s a win-win!
Lunch the following day – Who needs to spend overinflated restaurant prices when you can bring your meal from home? Invest in some cute and modern containers like these and you just might start a leftover trend!
Of course, as you become more adept at altering your recipes to serve just the two of you, leftovers will become less and less of an issue.
START A RECIPE NOTEBOOK
We all have a stash of go-to recipes in our kitchens. Family favorites or even our own creations.
Create a notebook with all of your recipes, but update them with new measurements, to serve 2.
It will be much easier to create meals without doing last minute adaptations. The faster you can make a grocery list, the more likely it is to get done!
If you find yourself with some extra time or want to turn cooking into a fresh hobby, challenge yourself to expand your notebook with some new recipes.
Meals that are kid-friendly don’t always satisfy the adult palate. Maybe this is the right time to try some of the ingredients you’ve seen featured in restaurant meals. Try cumin for a bright but not spicy note. Top a simple pasta dish with fresh basil and see how different same old is brand new!
CREATE A CARE PACKAGE FOR THE BLUES
Create a care package for yourself when you are feeling fragile. Don’t limit yourself to just food items. This is not about comfort food. It’s about comforting yourself on all levels.
Some ideas to include: healthy snacks, a crossword puzzle book, some magazines you’ve been meaning to read, a candle in your favorite scent, a pad and pen for daydreaming or journaling, and maybe some not-so-healthy snacks.
I struggle with depression. These care packages have saved the day more than once for me. I hope they can help you cope in a healthy manner. They have the power to boost you on a bad day. And because you PLAN them, they are immediate and they are filled with better choices than you might make otherwise.
Be sure to plan for these snacks on errand day. Keep your stash stocked.
You can also prepare special treats in advance, freeze them, and simply tuck a note in your care package to remind you that they are waiting for you!
By the way, these also work very well for planned “me time.”
Now that there are fewer members of the household, day trips (or vacations) have become much more affordable.
It’s also easier to be spontaneous (in more ways than one!)
Make a list of places you’d like to go for day trips.
Go to the park, browse a book store (check out the cookbooks), and go antiquing.
Moderately priced ideas:
Lounge in a coffee shop and people watch, go out to lunch with a friend or even alone, take someone special on a movie date.
Indulgent ideas: the zoo, a fancy dinner out, or a theme park
Spend the day at the zoo, go to a fine restaurant you’ve been wanting to try, or go to a theme park (be sure to text the kids silly pictures of you going on the rides YOU want to! They’ll be so jealous.)
If you have it in your budget, enjoy going out to eat occasionally. It’s always nice to get out of the house and these meals can be a relaxed, kid-free way to spend time with your spouse.
Taking the time to take care of yourself, while adjusting to your new normal, is necessary. I hope you’ll try some of these Kitchen Transitions tips and share your own in the comments.
In our next column, we’ll talk about how to take advantage of bulk sales while cooking for two!
As always, if you have any questions, suggestions, or comments, I will always answer or help you find an answer! Check out our home at Pennyrecipe.com.