May 17, 2021
I used to pride myself on getting dinner on the table every night. Weekends were usually simpler meals, but I usually got something put together.
I often tried new recipes, and only had a handful of old standbys that I repeated regularly. I made a menu plan every week – during one phase I planned out the entire month.
I limited the activities my kids were involved in so that we could all be together at dinner time, rather than running off in different directions due to practices, rehearsals, games and the like.
I belonged to a “Meal Group”….. for 10 YEARS!
Every month I prepared enough freezer meals for everyone in the group, we met for lunch and exchanged meals, which meant I came home with 8 or so different dinners that I could pull from the freezer throughout the month.
Often by the time we sat down to eat, I was grumpy and irritated. If someone didn’t like what I’d made or the recipe didn’t turn out like I wanted it to, the grumpiness and irritation was amplified!
Gradually, I felt the flicker of caring about dinner getting snuffed out. Actually, Burned Out is where I was at. And one day in May 2018, I just decided I was done with Meal Group. And I quit.
About a week later I found out my Mom had Pancreatic Cancer.
I was enrolled to start at The Life Coach School just a few months after her diagnosis. I had explained my lack of desire to cook to my husband and together we decided he would start being in charge of dinner when I started the Life Coach certification process.
I was an attentive and dutiful chef when I was in Utah one week/month taking care of my parents, but at home…. Nada. It was as if a light switch turned off. I had no interest in cooking anymore.
And I was totally Ok with it. Gratefully, my husband and kids were too. During the weeks that I was gone, my two youngest girls took up a portion of the dinner prep responsibility. Sushi and Deli chicken were always on the menu that week.
But on nights when my husband was out of town with work, I gave myself complete permission to only cook if I wanted to.
Usually I didn’t want to, so we made do with things like leftovers, cereal, frozen burritos. Those nights I felt like cooking, I turned to the old standbys; chicken pot pie, spaghetti, tacos.
It’s been 3 years since I quit cooking. My parents are both gone now, so I don’t even feel the one week/month obligation to turn out something nutritious and delicious anymore.
Sometimes I feel a flicker of desire to be the head chef again. I embrace it when it comes, and the result has been some delicious meals… Ratatouille and Polenta is one of my new favorites. But I don’t force it or even expect it to ever fully return.
I think I burned out in 2018 because I had been pressuring myself to do dinner the way I thought it HAD to be done. For 26 years.
I listened to a podcast recently by Jody Moore, you can listen to it here: https://jodymoore.com/the-power-of-quitting/. It’s called The Power of Quitting and she specifically gives the example of quitting dinner and only bringing back the the pieces we like .
“Hmmm.” I realized, “That’s what I did!”.
I just did it over the course of 3 years. Bringing back only what works for me looks like this:
I choose simpler recipes; Few ingredients and steps. I LOVE Grocery pickup, but most weeks, my husband does the shopping. We have few side dishes, and they are also simple: Like cut melon or roasted veggies. I do still invest time in making a beautiful green salad, because I love to. We involve our girls in prep. Sometimes we eat later than usual. We have a designated leftover night. And sometimes we say, “Figure out what you want for dinner.” Most nights we DO eat a nice meal together.
And actually it doesn’t look very different. It’s just now I’m preparing dinner from a sense of desire and satisfaction instead of pressure. It’s a delicious feeling.
So what do you want to quit? I’m guessing you’ll think of something immediately.
Then decide how, or if, you want to put it back together.
On the other side, is the feeling of freedom you’ve been looking for.
P.S. Since I’m a Life Coach AND an experienced quitter, I’d love to help you through this process. Schedule a 45 min Complimentary Session today.https://meredithgcoaching.as.me/ AND try my new Group Class: Coaching & Coping, just $63/month. It’s every Wednesday night at 7pm MST. Try one month and see how you like it! https://app.acuityscheduling.com/catalog.php?owner=18478412&action=addCart&clear=1&id=1043106