Going mad? Try meal planning
I was losing track of time at home until I discovered this.
When you’re a child, every part of your life is organised. You wake up, have breakfast, eat the same cereal, put on the same clothes, walk the same route to school and then do the same lessons. All before returning home for an evening of homework, followed by a ready meal dinner, probably a petit filous, and maybe some allotted ‘gaming time’.
After repeating that for five days, eventually, you will hit the weekend. And then a new schedule would take over, it was a lot more relaxed, but a schedule nevertheless. Often it was filled with a combination of football practice, long walks, seeing your relatives, a vicious game of Monopoly and an argument.
This regimentation was good for us in lots of ways. It taught us to structure, stay organsied, to focus on a task at hand, and to also value ‘play’ time. But, it was also, without question, the worst part about being a kid: having no control.
Freedom to organise your life was, for me at least, the bedrock of the dream of getting older. To be able to choose when to sleep, what to eat, who to meet – being an adult meant managing your schedule. And it seemed brilliant.
Now that I am an adult, the truth of the matter is, structuring a personal schedule has gone largely out the window. I never eat breakfast, my commute is everchanging, I don’t always get through my to-do-list how I'd like, and by the time I get home, all I want to do is sit on the sofa and consume many wines and cheeses.
However, that was pre-coronavirus. And as I enter my fifth week working from home, I have had an epiphany: the key to keeping sane is meal planning.
In my first few weeks at home, I quickly became Bill Murray from Groundhog Day. Some days I would be sure it was Tuesday, but then actually I’d be told it was Friday – only to realise later that it was in fact Sunday. Yesterday, today and tomorrow were the only real ways to measure time.
Whereas, since I set-up a dinner schedule, I have literally taken back control of my own life. And I know that sounds very LA therapy but, honestly, by having a set-meal assigned to each day, everything else just falls into place.
As an example, on a Tuesday we eat pizza and salad. That means we can have it again for lunch the next day, and results in pizza boxes covering our kitchen – which reminds me to remove the recycling ahead of a Thursday collection.
And it’s not just household symmetry, by having set meals, doing your weekly shop becomes much easier and cost-effective too – increasingly important when you have to wait two hours to enter Tesco. It also means you can create days to look forward to, like a Friday steak night.
Perhaps I’m an idiot and people have been doing this for years – like the parents I mentioned above – but, without a doubt, this has totally changed my life and made staying at home significantly more bearable. I guess it helps that I’ve put Spam on my list for every other day.