by Cary Farrell July 22, 2019 Whether you choose to live alone or you find yourself living alone for a variety of reasons, I want you to understand that you are worth caring for. Living alone however does not offer the encouragement or accountability that we humans need to care for ourselves well. It is very easy to let the house “go to pot” when no one else sees the way we live and to swing by for fast food. You might think it doesn’t matter but IT DOES. When you come home to a dirty, cluttered home, hungry from a day of work, your home does not welcome you! You might say, “so what?” I say, “You are worth a warm welcome at the end of the day!” With just a little effort and planning, you can come home at the end of the day and truly relax, unwind and be refreshed for the next day. You can also make it possible to invite others over to enjoy your relaxing space and inspire them to create their own relaxing space. I want to give you some tools and ideas to inspire you as you care for yourself by creating a warm and inviting home with a meal to enjoy. There are a few basic tasks that can be systematized to take the “chore” out of creating that welcoming home. These basic tasks include: ● Cooking ● Laundry ● Keeping a clean and functional environment ● Dealing with the paper that threatens to drown us We eat, wear clothes, clutter our homes, and receive some kind of paper every day. If you can tackle managing these basic tasks, you can create a welcoming home! A clear and simple plan is all you need. If you didn’t receive instruction in these basic home management skills growing up, don’t give up! It is never too late to learn tools to give you a higher quality of life. Creating a welcoming home will give you confidence in all you do because you will be taking care of you. Here are some simple tips and ideas to help you create meals for one that will make eating at home enjoyable. The Basic Task of Cooking: Simplify “What’s for Dinner?” Most Americans eat at least three meals a day with snacks in between. With a very simple plan you can take out the daily frustration of “What’s for dinner?” and make breakfast and lunch easier as well. How to tackle your excuses for cooking: There are a lot of valid reasons why people don’t want to cook: ● I hate to cook You might not ever learn to love cooking but you can learn some simple tools in the kitchen that will make it seem like you aren’t cooking. For example, I use my crock pot often because I can literally dump ingredients in the crock pot in the morning and come home to a delicious hot and ready meal. Google simple crock pot meals and you will get hundreds of recipes! Cooking a meal in the crock pot will give you dinner, lunch, and a few freezer meals that you can quickly warm up on a busy week. ● I hate to clean it up My secret here is to start with a clean kitchen and keep a sink or dish pan with hot soapy water so you can wash up as you go. Cleaning up food before it hardens is so much easier. ● I don’t know what to cook Start with theme nights like, Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Soup and Salad or Sandwich, Meat and Veggie, Beans and Rice, Seafood etc. If you choose a theme for each night of the week, then you can easily choose 3 or 4 of your favorite dishes in each theme to rotate on those nights and viola!, you have a month’s worth of meals planned. Don’t choose fancy dishes. Keep it simple! ● My kitchen is too cluttered This room in the house has the most items in it, most of which rarely get used! Stand at each area of your kitchen and ask yourself what items you use daily or weekly in that area. That is all that can live there. If you have to wrestle with the roasting pan that you use once a year every time you need a pot, you are adding unnecessary stress to your kitchen tasks. Do you have kitchen gadgets that you thought were a great idea but don’t get used? Don’t let guilt talk you into keeping them. Let them go and learn the valuable lesson that less is more in the kitchen. Buy appliances that can do more than one thing like this waffle iron. Purge old food and give the kitchen a good cleaning. Pretend the health department is coming to inspect. You deserve a Grade A kitchen. ● I am too busy Everyone is too busy but it still takes time to order at a restaurant or wait in line for food. With a small investment of time, you can create a simple plan that even the busiest person can do. Meals for the entire week can be made in just a couple of hours. Most of our time is wasted in the kitchen when we plan one meal at a time instead of prepping and cooking several meals at one time. If you are going to cook a piece of meat, choose a couple of meals that the meat can be used for. For example, this week I cooked a pork roast in my crock pot (threw it in with a little salt and pepper, cooked it 8 hours for a tender roast, yum!). We ate the meat sliced the first night and the second night I chopped it up, added Mexican seasonings and used it for burritos with black beans and cilantro lime rice. Yum again! Cooking a turkey breast in the crock pot will give you several meals worth of meat that you can do so much with. ● I am too tired If you come home at the end of the day too exhausted to cook, planning ahead will give you a hot and ready meal at the end of that day that will give you the energy to make it to bedtime. Plan to cook on the weekend when you are more rested and refrigerate or freeze portions for the week. Prepping a salad on the weekend into several small containers, cooking a yummy soup to freeze in quart zip lock bags, and packing up leftovers are all easy options for lunches. Breakfast can be as simple as a frittata or quiche that you make ahead in muffin pans and warm up each day with some fruit or a piece of toast. You can make a batch of oatmeal in the crock pot to warm up daily, cook boiled eggs for the week, or make a large batch of pancakes, waffles or muffins to freeze. Anything you like for breakfast can be pre-made and warmed quickly. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, plan to eat it! ● I don’t like eating alone. Find a dinner co-op or create one with a group of friends. If you can find one or two friends, you can rotate houses and either all bring a dish to share or one person takes a night and prepares the meal for the other three. This should leave everyone with a yummy lunch for the next day too. Start with one meal a day and when you are successful pre-planning, making and eating that meal, move to the next. Soon you will be eating better, saving time and money, conquering the reasons you don’t cook, and creating a welcoming home. Look through the other organizing tips to help create simple systems in the rest of the house. You are worth a warm welcome at home!