If there is anything that seems to rattle us more than anything else, it is uncertainty. It can be a scary feeling, when our direction doesn’t seem clear and there does not seem to be a way forward. We are used to our set plans, our schedules laid out, with lists to check off. Places to go, people to see, hustling to and fro. When things stop you in your tracks and ask you to stop, to slow down, it can be quite a shock. It could be a job change, upcoming surgery, an illness in yourself or a loved one, or the current state of things right now… When we are uncertain, or direction isn’t clear. We may end up feeling numb, panicked, paralyzed, or desperate to feel like we have some control to what is happening around us.
And you know what? I am not going to tell you not to feel that way. Honor how you are feeling right now, in this moment of uncertainty. Be angry, or sad, frustrated, or laugh at the absurdity of it all. Work through those feelings. They are real. It IS frustrating and crazy right now. We are missing out on planned activities we have been looking forward to and not sure of the next thing.
But after that? Protect your thoughts. Guard them. Yes, things may seem unpredictable now, but worry won’t change the circumstance. What will change is how we choose to react and what we choose to act on. Soaking in the constant news cycle, constantly searching online for answers, can get too scary for yourself and your children. Personally, I have needed to step back and commit to staying off social channels, choosing to check my news feed only a couple of times throughout the day. The news will still be there if I need an update of anything that is truly important for me to know. But this way I control the flood, the panicked tones, and can guard my own thoughts and feelings.
And lastly, I would ask you, even in the midst of all the uncertainty right now, to remember to be kind and be a light to others. We are ALL going through this together. Not everyone has the resources you may have. No matter what life throws at us try to find moments to remember what you are grateful for and reflect on whether it is something you can share with others. Let someone ahead of you in line, offer a pack of toilet paper to someone if your cart has two, call or FaceTime relatives who are elderly and may be cut off from visits right now and feeling alone. There are all ways we can bring a light to someone now when things feel dark. And my friends, when you spread joy, that makes things feel a little less dark and uncertain for you.
One thing I can do is share what and how we are eating for the next couple of weeks. I wanted a plan that would take advantage of what may be still available at the stores (there was not a run on artichokes, canned coconut milk or frozen shrimp at the store – LOL), still be delicious and be comforting. For the second week, I did not want too many components of the recipes to have to be frozen or refrigerated as well, so focused on recipes that had more components I could store in the cupboards. For my family, I was able to double up on recipes so I can put things away in the freezer for another day. For example, today I have a double batch of taco chili in the slow cooker. Before I serve dinner, I will put away half of it to cool in the refrigerator. Before bed, when the chili is cool, I’ll seal, label and date the meal, tucking it into the freezer for another night. By doing this, I’ve extended my menu plan from 2 to 4 weeks. You know how I like to be prepared!
Breakfasts: I checked my cupboards and I have enough ingredients to make pancakes (paleo and gluten free vegan), pumpkin waffles, gluten free oats, to get us through if needed. I also have enough frozen fruit/spinach/chia/dairy free milk on hand to have smoothies for over 2 weeks. I wanted to make sure I did not need eggs for any of my breakfast options, just so I can save the eggs I get for baking for treats or dinner items or save on space in the refrigerator. I also checked on the status of my coffee and tea. Trust me my family does not want me to run out!
Lunches: I have plenty of gluten free bread on hand in the freezer, lunch meat, nut butters, apples, carrots, clementines, gluten free wraps, breakfast items (see above) and I always encourage the eating of leftovers for lunch, so I honestly feel pretty set there as well. Before you go to the store, go through what you already have on hand. Do you have items to take care of breakfasts for a couple of weeks? What else do you need to add to your list or make sure you do. You will be surprised by what you may already have on hand.
Treats: by going through my cupboard, I found I had 4(!) boxes of gluten free brownie mix, 2 cake mixes, frozen gluten free pie crusts, popcorn and enough dairy free chocolate chips to keep everyone’s spirits up for a while. I am not sure why I have so many mixes, because I usually make things from scratch, but I think now is the time to try them out! Why not? I figure if I just make one or two things a week, just for fun, it will be a fun activity for the family to participate in, and we’ll have something tasty when we are done. I jotted down how much eggs/oil/etc. will be needed if we used the mixes. What is in your cupboard?
Grocery List (serves 4 – double if you would like to make a second batch of each to freeze for another week)
Day 1: Mongolian Beef and Broccoli over cauliflower rice, rice or quinoa
-For my budget I made this with ground beef and fresh broccoli this week. There was not any frozen broccoli in my local store. To change the recipe, I cooked and crumbled the ground beef, draining any grease. When beef is cooked, add sauce ingredients and add cut broccoli and sautéing until sauce is thickened and broccoli is crisp-tender. There was no rice at the store (!), BUT there was plenty of frozen cauliflower rice and quinoa available to serve as a side, so pick your favorite accompaniment.
–Roast a whole chicken. Remove chicken meat and package for day two, keeping in the fridge. Make chicken stock from chicken bones. I added a onion, a couple carrots, celery, and garlic to stock.
Day 2: Wild Rice Chicken Soup using chicken and stock from day one.
Day 3: Taco Chili with Dairy Free Brazilian Cheese Rolls (wrap and freeze remaining rolls for day four.
Day 4: Slow Cooker Cassoulet with extra rolls from day three wrapped in foil and heated in the oven for 5ish minutes at 400 degrees.
Day 5: Carnitas Burrito Bowls (in the bowls I will also have Cilantro Lime Rice/quinoa/cauliflower rice, sautéed sweet pepper strips, and sweet corn kernels cooked coconut oil, caramelized onions, garlic, ground cumin and chili powder) If desired, save half of the carnitas for day seven before serving dinner.
Day 6: Spicy Sweet Glazed Chicken with roasted asparagus
Day 7: Pulled Pork on sweet baked potatoes with frozen or fresh veggies on the side. (If you made a really big pork roast for the Carnitas on day five, didn’t pick up a second roast or have room for one, simply save half of the carnitas, mix with your favorite gluten free BBQ sauce and presto! Dinner is served!)
Day 8: Teriyaki Chicken with Veggies over pad Thai noodles instead of rice
Day 10: Pizza Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
Day 11: Simple Pork Fried Rice
Day 14: Curried Shrimp (I will do this with green beans as there were no frozen snap peas at the store. Any green veggie will do. In a pinch I would grab frozen spinach, thaw, squeeze out extra liquid and and stir in about 1/3 to 1/2 the package after everything is cooked to add greens to the meal.)
I wasn’t ready this week with a grocery list, but hopefully this list helps give ideas in your planning as we move toward staying home for longer periods during this time. On Monday and every Monday for the next few weeks while things are a bit uncertain, I will post a grocery list, menu plan and prep for a two week menu. Each menu plan will include food for a two week shop for 4 people, breakfasts, lunches, dinners and a couple treats. My hope is that is will ease someone’s way as we go forward.
Feel free to ask any questions and stay safe and cozy!