Photo: Lis Ferla

It’s January 2017, time to make the list of promises I know I’m not going to keep.

I’d love to say this year I’m going to maintain a budget, but I never do. I am aware that responsible people save 10% of each paycheck… that sounds great in theory. I could take more time to find my balance, spend more time on the treadmill and less in my computer chair, but those again are probably promises I won’t be able to maintain, like family meal planning.

Just the words ‘Meal planning’ reminds me of my parents’ grumbles of their routine 1950’s childhoods: Beanie Wienie on Wednesdays, tuna casserole on Fridays, and spaghetti and meatballs every Saturday night. How can you decide what you are going to be in the mood to eat seven days in advance?

Walking out of my office, I am tempted everyday by the wafting smells of simmering ribs slow-cooking behind the BBQ joint that shares our parking lot. I can barely get to my car before I’ve made up my mind that we are having ribs, macaroni and cheese, and fried okra for dinner. But we can’t have that every night.

Patients will come in talking about what’s on their menu. Home-made broccoli and cheddar soup is perfect on a cold winter’s day. Who wouldn’t be in the mood for shredded turkey enchiladas topped with creamy salsa verde after seeing that mouth-watering picture in the magazine? Oh and the roasted eggplant lasagna… After this type of conversation, how could I possibly settle for a dinner of some boring dish out of the freezer? It would be an injustice.

But don’t worry. Just because I don’t pre-plan our meals doesn’t mean my family must survive on a can of Ranch Beans from the cupboard. I’ve always said that it is necessary for me to live within five minutes of the grocery store because I go there almost every day. I love to eat and I love to cook, but I loathe planning. Somehow it seems like it waters down the spark of my personality.

Friends often tell me that prepared meals make one less stress at the end of the day. I’m sure that is true. But I’m not looking for an easy life; I want a zesty life. And when asked about my scattered plans, I simply reply that I’m an artist, as if that should be an appropriate enough answer!

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