Cooking for yourself seems like a lot of energy out sometimes. I mean, a meal’s over just like that, and then you’re back at the sink, washing up.
Personally, I get way more motivated cooking for a group. I might not be your average person, mind you, because I did live at a retreat center for eight years.
Yet now I’m living alone in a new city, I’m often so busy taking care of everything else that I don’t cook a proper meal for myself for days. After work, I trudge through snow, shovel a path to my door and find my way in, just famished. I’ve no plan for dinner, and I’m grumbling to myself like a hangry person, “…but isn’t a meal plan just overkill for one person? Aren’t there more important, more spiritual things to do with my time?”
My life lacks lustre
A couple of months ago, the impact of not taking care of “me” suddenly hit home. I wasn’t getting – no, scratch that – I wasn’t giving myself the nourishment and variety I need to be healthy and energized. Although I meditate daily, I was lacking awareness and care in this area of my life and just feeling “blah”!
I hadn’t appreciated ’til now how the simple structure and routine of mealtimes at the retreat center had nourished me and allowed other areas of my life to really shine.
How could I do food better?
Though I’d had this great insight, I still needed to put effort into changing my habits. I don’t know about you, but even when I say something is a priority, I can still forget. I need to set up a number of things to actually remember to make my new priority, an actual priority.
So, the first thing I did to make myself remember that food is a priority was to find a way to bring reverence into my cooking space. I did this by hanging a touching image that opens my heart, smack bang in the middle of the kitchen. Maybe that seems like a small thing, but as soon as I open the door now that picture serves to remind me just how precious food is.
Take it deeper, move it into action
I knew the image would not be enough, though. It was taking time out to plan and prepare meals that gave me the structure I needed to shift my eating habits. I hoped this would build healthy habits to support my meditation, work, and fun time, as well as provide opportunity for meaningful connections with others.
Yet, I knew that none of this would happen if I wasn’t willing to spend time on it and do it.
That afternoon, I took time out to plan meals for the following week and create a shopping list.
That first week, when I went shopping they were out of some of the key ingredients I was looking for, and others were beyond my budget. On top of that, I also didn’t follow the daily plan and then felt frustrated that I hadn’t done what I said I would. I did do one thing right, though. Rather than beat myself up as I usually do, I had enough sense to sit down and tweak the plan so in future it would be easy to adapt if needed.
Keep it real, have fun, and do it!
To make recipes that were easily adaptable, I planned a pasta dish that could have chicken or mushrooms. I prepared curry that could go with rice or noodles, and I bought apples that I could use as a snack, for compote, or for cookies. This new flexibility made shopping easier, and that week I ate a variety of tasty home cooked meals every night, froze some leftovers, and took lunches to work. Yeah!
Celebrate the benefits
I gained so much from that original insight. I could no longer ignore that on some level, I was expecting “the world” to take care of me. With my new routine, I have space and energy to care for my own needs. I’m spending less money and I enjoy making myself a decent dinner after work. Focussing on what I used to ignore – taking care of myself – is really giving me a net gain of energy and awareness in all areas of my life – spiritual, financial, and gastronomical. Yee ha!