Decision Fatigue and Meal Planning

We're living in unprecedented times
and decision fatigue is at an all-time high.
I've been hearing and reading more about this concept in recent months
and find it quite fascinating.

It feels like nothing is easy these days, right?
Nothing.
Single decisions are no longer single.
What used to be an easy decision
- should we go over to a friend's house for supper - 
is now a series of complex choices.

What if it rains? 
Do we postpone or are we willing to go in their house?
Do we each order take-out so we're not sharing food and utensils and such?
Is there enough space in their yard to sit far enough apart?
Are they going to be weirded out if we arrive in masks?
I sneezed a few minutes ago. 
Is it the Rona or simply seasonal allergies?
It feels exhausting.
I had an 'ah-ha' moment a couple weeks ago
in connection with decision fatigue and meal planning.
Go figure.

There I was, 
minding my own business,
listening to an
As a pertinent aside, 
the week prior I had been listening to an organizational conference
(I'm weird like that - I love organizing)
and that conference got me all fired up about meal planning.
Again.
This ain't my first rodeo, friends.
Meal planning ebbs and flows in my yearly rhythm.
September happens 
and I think
this is my year.

And then October rolls in 
and I made approximately 3.7 meals 
from my entire September meal plan.
Failure.
Yet again.
Pretty much guaranteed.

Not for lack of trying mind you.
And not for lack of ideas and input.
I know it would make my life easier.
I know it would save a lot of money.
My brain knows this and wants this.
I've been attempting to meal plan for twenty whole years.
And it never lasts more than three weeks.
EVER.

Best intentions.
Vim and vigor.
All the color coding a girl could want.
Lovely folders and pretty recipe cards.
Online and crockpot recipes ad nauseam.
Charts and lists.

I am ON IT like cream cheese on a bagel.
But it is NEVER sustainable.
And then it hit me.
My 'why' for meal planning was all wrong.

I was meal planning because I was supposed to meal plan.
I didn't have a reason why I should meal plan other than
I was told that's what good ladies do.
I needed to measure up to the other moms out there.
They're all doing it and apparently it's working for them.
I had all these 'shoulds' in the back of my head
that were taking up valuable real estate.

I was trying to meal plan 
because it was what I 'should' do.
It's what a good wifey should do.
I'm supposed to love the kitchen and love feeding my family.
I'm supposed to be frugal and stretch a piece of chicken for two and a half meals.
I'm supposed to make all the things from scratch because that is healthiest.
I'm supposed to have my entire month of meals planned out 
and I must stick to that plan.
I'm supposed to
and blah, blah, blah.

And those are all good things if, I suppose, 
you love the kitchen and cooking.

But I don't.
And I probably won't ever be the one that says,
"I just loooovve providing healthy meals that nourish my family's bodies."
Are you kidding me?
Stay with me friends.
Here's where decision fatigue enters the scene.

Meals have exhausted me.
My whole "married.with.kids" life.
Wanna know what happens every day in my life?

4pm rolls around.
Alysa panics and thinks
"What should she make for supper?"
Alysa heads to the pantry and the freezer
and wishes upon a star that she had participated in the 
"30 days of freezer meals" challenge
that she saw on someone's Facebook feed years ago.
If only.

But alas, 
she isn't on top of it 
so she has to decide 
YET AGAIN
what is for supper.

It's a daily decision that absolutely exhausts her.
It's mundane.
And terribly painful.
And annoying.
(And admittedly a first-world problem. Another post. Another day.)
And it happens EVERY SINGLE DAY because apparently
all the people need/want/like to eat every single day.
They're weird like that.
Here's the lightbulb.
Back to the podcast.
Kendra, of The Lazy Genius, said
the beauty of meal planning is that you make decisions ONCE
and then you don't think about them again.
I don't have to make decisions about every single meal every single day anymore
because I already made those decisions last week when I planned out my meals.
I decided once.
Not daily.

BRILLIANT.

She told me to sit down and
make my weekly meal plan for the upcoming week
and I obeyed her.
I overachieved and did two weeks.
Just like that.
I don't even know her.
But what she said resonated
and made sense for me and my brain and how I'm wired.
She answered the question I've been wrestling with for twenty years.
Why should I meal plan?

My new why?
Because if I meal plan, 
I won't be exhausted by deciding what we are eating for supper every day.
And I won't hate that part of my day.
It will free me up to do more of what I want to do and love to do.
Because that daily decision was already made.
It's no longer a daily decision.
And THAT is life-giving to me.
This might change my life, friends.

My reason for meal planning doesn't have to be 
all the 'shoulds' that I've bought into.

I need to meal plan for me.
I need to know my personal why.
Meal planning makes the decision once a week 
so that I'm not standing in my kitchen exhausted
and hating life at 4pm every day.

Meal planning makes my life freer.
And one of my highest values in life is actually freedom.
Which is why, 
as you might imagine,
the being tied to the kitchen thing is 
overwhelming and exhausting to me.

This Friday I'll be sitting down to plan the next two weeks of meals.
And I'm not dreading that as is typical in bygone years.
I'm actually a teensy bit excited about it.
Why?
Because I'm going to decide once what meals 
are going to look like for the next two weeks.
And then the decisions are made.
And that frees me up to be me.

I'm just so very happy typing those words.
Free to be me.

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