Hello Everyone and welcome to the January 2022 edition of The Nap Times! If you are receiving this and do not want a monthly newsletter from me, simply unsubscribe at the bottom. I totally get wanting to simplify and declutter your inbox and will not take it personally.
This newsletter is short and sweet, and honestly, all I hope to do is encourage you. Why? If theres one thing I have noticed in the last month, it is that many of you are tired. And the days are cold. And yet, the house still gets dirty. You still have mouths to feed. The laundry keeps on coming. And somewhere in there, you also want to take care of yourself.
While I can't help with the laundry, I do want to give you some quick encouragements when it comes to feeding your family. If you have read the NTK Guide to Meal Planning and Grocery Shopping, these will be familiar. But whether you have heard them before or they are brand new, I hope it gives you some needed encouragement as we enter February. I know I personally need them.
Meal Plan Mantras and Ecouragements
1. How much you enjoy making meals for your family is not a morality issue.
You may be someone who loves to cook and enjoys the entire process from start to finish. If so, that is wonderful! I am one of those people too. But if not, rest assured, this in no way, shape, or form makes you a lesser parent or person. It’s just cooking. Last time I checked it is not a virtue.
You also might have seasons where you enjoy the process much more than others. When my firstborn was a baby, I loved the meal planning and cooking! I had the time and mental bandwidth to do it. Nowadays, it is much more of a challenge for me. I feel like there’s all these hoops I have to jump through in order to make a meal I enjoy and also my children won’t revolt against me for. That list is short, and can get old fast.
2. It’s just food. One meal shouldn’t have the power to make or break anyone’s day.
I hope this allows you to take the pressure off of yourself! You are not on Top Chef. Your judges could very well be tiny humans who applaud boxed macaroni and a husband who silently fist pumps when you are “too tired to cook” and he gets to order pizza and wings. Not every meal needs to be a winner. Let them eat some bad meals! It builds character.
3. You eat approximately 21 meals a week;
1,092 meals a year!
If you make a terrible meal no one likes, remember, it’s one meal amidst 21 you will eat that week. Heck, you could even bomb a week of meals and it would still only be 21 meals amidst the 1,092 you will eat that year! Much like point number two, remember that the meal you make is one drop in the bucket over a lifetime of cooking. You are bound to make some bad ones.
Also, 1,092 is a lot of meals to try and be original. EMBRACE THE REPEATS. Just think: if there’s one meal you repeat every week, that would be 52 times. That is still less than 5% of your total meals.
4. Utilize convenience foods.
In keeping with point three and the 1,092 meals you will eat in a year, you are bound to get tired and need a break. Chick-fil-a and convenience cooking exist for a reason. Use them with zero guilt.
Bonus: something practical I do weekly is double meals I am already cooking in order to freeze one. That way, I have an easy “convenience meal” from the freezer for a later week. Is there a meal you are making this week you could double?
5. Dinner doesn't have to be the best meal of the day.
There is no rule saying dinner needs to be your best meal of the day. Or fanciest. Or healthiest. Nor is that the case for your kids.
Maybe breakfast is easier for everyone to get a solid dose of protein. Or maybe an empty house while they are at school gives you time to make something you actually want midday. Maybe your kids won’t go near something at dinner but will be more likely to try it packed in their lunch.
Unless someone brings us a meal or I take something out of the freezer, dinners for us right now are the bare minimum. I’m talking PB&J with a side of applesauce. Maybe a grilled cheese. Frozen tortellini. You get the picture.
Whatever your season, let your meals and how you plan and eat them work for you! If you’re worn out, you don’t have to put pressure on yourself to make dinner the hero. Heck, no meal has to be the hero.
6. Find a way of meal planning that works for YOU.
In going on with point five, I know there are some amazing systems out there. Websites that will link you to all the groceries you need or apps that keep you on track. I think that is amazing! But it’s only amazing if it helps you.
Personally, I list out the 4-5 meals l plan to make that week on the right side, and the days of the week down the left side. But I don't assign meals to specific days. Why do I do it this way? It is likely a personality thing, but I like to keep my options open. Maybe the temperature drops overnight by 20 degrees and chili out of the freezer just makes more sense than a big salad. Or maybe the baby had me up three times and so I don't have the energy to chop the sweet potatoes I was planning to. I like to know the meals we plan to eat that week, but enjoy the freedom that comes with not assigning to specific days.
7. At the end of the day, whether anyone thanks you or not, you are doing a good and faithful work.
Cooking for and feeding people (especially over years and a lifetime) is one of the noblest acts of service you can do for them. You are meeting the deepest and most basic human need. You are sustaining lives in your home! It might get monotonous, but it is not small.
Alright friends, I know many of you have likely heard many of those before, but I hope you find them encouraging. You truly are doing a GOOD and FAITHFUL work. Don't forget that ❤️
*I am going to use this section to only share things I read/watched I would suggest to another person. I definitely read/listened to/watched some duds!
I am going to level with you: this month I have read one book and it wasn't good. I have listened to basically nothing except music. And the only thing I watched worth noting is The Disney movie Encanto and I think you would have to live under a rock to not know about it.
I have, however, been reading through the book of Matthew in the Bible and gosh I am loving it. I am on chapter 20, taking my time to reread anything that stands out. This year I am focusing on reading through the New Testament. I don't have a reading plan or anything, just taking it book by book and chapter by chapter. The fun part of this is that I have these journaling Bibles for Millie and Scout and as I read I am taking notes in the margins of their Bibles. I hope this is something I can do over the years to one day give to them. Also, here is a link to the Bible. The cover is by Lulie Wallace. She does art and textiles and I adore basically everything she creates!
Lastly, I have jumped on the Wordletrain and it is one of the highlights of my day! I love how it cuases me to use my brain early in the morning. If you haven't already hopped on the Wordle train, I highly suggest it. Here's why it's great: there's no app you have to download! You simply go to wordle.com and there's a five letter word everyone across the globe is trying to guess. There is only one wordle each day; everyone has the same word. If you go to the website it explains the very basic rules (there are only two). I hope you love it as much as I have!
That's all I have for you this month. I hope you feel encouraged. And go play Wordle. Have a lovely February, and thanks for reading!