March 23, 2020. Well, we’re a bit over a week into a situation most of us never thought we’d see. Due to Covid-19, schools everywhere are closed, many of us are stuck at home, longing for a sense of normalcy.
But when life gives you lemons, it’s time to make lemon drop shots. Here are the ways I’m making the most of this unexpected time at home.
1: Cooking with my daughter
As stir crazy as we may be feeling right now, our little ones must be even more so. My five year old certainly is. She’s used to seeing a classroom full of friends, getting extended time running around a playground every day, on top of extracurriculars like dance class to run her energy out.
Now, as we’re trying to limit our trips out only for essential items, we realize it’s been well over a week since she’s left our neighborhood. How confining, frustrating and confusing that must be for a little one. So, for the sake of our collective sanity, it’s a great time to grab her interest by cooking!
So this past week, we made some Blueberry Banana Bread, a super simple loaf where she could do pretty much all the mixing. We also tried some homemade pretzel bites, that came out great when dipped with mustard. And for breakfast we did some back-of-the-box blueberry pancakes.
The joy she gets from cooking something from scratch with me is just as therapeutic to me as it is to her. This is a great opportunity to connect with her doing something we both love.
2: Starting an Herb Garden
Usually this time of year, I’m traveling a fair amount of work and by the time things settle, it’s too late to set this up. But now, trapped at home, it’s the perfect time to get a home herb garden started so I can reap the benefits all year long.
Last week I visited my local garden center to pick up some fresh herbs. I purposely skipped the big chain hardware stores to keep my money local and shop in an open-air area.
I picked a little bit of everything from their shelves. Some basil, fennel, mint, thyme, chives and more will now be readily available just out of my back door. This will be a great way to up my home cooking game.
3: Taking A Masterclass (or two)
With nowhere to go on nights and weekends, there’s no better time than now to learn in-depth lessons from expert chefs to up my cooking game. Masterclass delivers just that.
For $15/month, you get unprecedented access into cooking lessons from some of the world’s best chefs. Learn great meals you can make at home from Gordon Ramsey, BBQ tips from Aaron Franklin, or even french cooking techniques from Thomas Keller.
What I love most about these classes are the depth. There are plenty of short YouTube videos from these star chefs with their quick cooking tips. But with Masterclass, the long-form lessons allow them to fully explain their thought process. You’ll learn much more than ingredients and instructions, you’ll learn how to think like an award-winning chef.
4: Take Inventory
It’s a running theme here, but we’re trying to lime out trips to the grocery store as much as possible. Fresh items like meat and veggies are scarce as it is at my local grocer, as if they’re prepping to be shut down at any moment. I get it, but it definitely limits our options.
So when everything you want isn’t always a quick drive away, it’s a good idea to do an inventory of what you have. Go through your freezer and take stock of what meats, veggies and whatnots you have stored away that you may have forgotten about. Make a pass through the pantry and take note of everything that we can help round out a plate.
And keep in mind many of us are now eating all three meals a day at home, something we’re not used to.
5: Planning my meals
I then take that inventory and plug it into my favorite meal planning tool, Plan To Eat ($). If you haven’t tried Plan To Eat yet, now is a great time to give it a shot. They offer a 30-day no-risk trial ($) where you don’t even have to enter in your credit card info. It’s a great tool where you can enter your recipes online, drag-and-drop them on a calendar and generate a shopping list of ingredients that you can pull up on your phone.
Check out the video below for more details.
Regardless of what you use, meal planning is a great habit to get into right now. First off, it will help you make the most of what you have in the house. Take your inventory and look up a variety of recipes you can make. There are obviously many available on this site, or you can use Pinterest for extra inspiration. This eliminates the repetitiveness that we can easily fall into in a time like this.
I also like posting my meal plan up on the fridge where everyone can see it. I use a weekly dry erase planner to write a rolling plan of what’s coming. This let’s everyone know what to look forward to and take it from there.
6: Take Mental Breaks
The world, and social media, can be an exhausting place right now. It’s easy to spiral into anxiety or depression, so taking steps to avoid it is important for me. To me, keeping my sanity comes down to two rules.
First, I decide when and how I’ll take information in. I mark certain points of the day where I’ll take in national and local news and try to limit my exposure in between. Not because I don’t want to be informed, but because most of the time in between is simply depressing news on repeat.
Simply put, the world is trying to feed you anxiety. Do what you can to limit what you ingest.
And with any luck, we’ll all be back to normal soon.0