I have been in a meal-planning funk. It’s like I have writer’s block, but with meals. I love to cook for my family. I typically do not mind grocery shopping. But it has become such a chore that it started to give me feelings of overwhelming dread. I’m running out of ideas, pair that with my opposition toward the task, and it has become a mentally consuming chore.
On top of all the other things constantly going on in my brain, I just don’t have the mental energy to think about meals for my family. It’s not just determining what to eat. It’s checking the calendar to see what nights we’ll be home. It’s checking the recipe to see if it can be prepared in the time I’ll have at home after work. It’s considering logistics and planning ahead. It’s thinking about the preferences of everyone in my family. I’m not a short order cook, but I also don’t want to spend my time cooking something no one likes. Meal planning and preparation can feel like a part-time job!
Cue all the help with feeding my family. There’s grocery pick up, there’s grocery delivery, there are meal kit delivery services, and thanks to a pandemic, there are family meals that can be picked up curbside at your favorite restaurants (I hope this sticks, by the way)!
I Can’t Outsource Everything!
I was telling one of my best friends the other day (as we were on FaceTime cooking a meal from a meal delivery service) that I wanted someone to clean my house. She agreed that she also wanted a maid, and then we both got so tickled at the irony of cooking a meal that we didn’t plan, that was overpriced, that was delivered to our house, that has minimal prep work, while discussing having someone clean our house. I laughed and said, “I can’t outsource everything! What will I do at home?” She replied with a really long list of things that I’d still have to do to keep things rolling at home.
It’s true, I can’t outsource everything. I don’t want to, nor should I. There was a time when I would have NEVER considered outsourcing anything. I considered it lazy and frivolous, and it took away from the mundane–yet oddly beautiful–tasks of a wife and mom that I truly enjoy.
In addition, I certainly did not see any reason to pay someone else for something I am able to do.
I don’t know if it’s the age of my kids, the season of life we’re in, or my jaded feelings and general exhaustion toward doing everything, but I’ve started to outsource some of my tasks. And let me tell you, it’s glorious!
Trial and Error
I’m always getting emails with discount codes from at least three different meal delivery services, so I decided to give one a try. The food was delicious! It was great for a few weeks, until one week’s meals were charged to me at full price, and it was a hassle to get the refund. What did me in, though, was the week my meals were never delivered. My food sat rotting on a delivery truck somewhere in Kentucky for weeks, according to the tracking information. I considered my bad luck a sign that this was not going to be my means of outsourcing.
I tried a house cleaning service. I was very excited to start with a deep clean, and when I came home, my house looked and smelled amazing. But upon a deeper look, I noticed several tasks were not completed, and a small portion of my hardwoods were stained. I had a difficult time getting the cleaning company to respond to my messages regarding my dissatisfaction. So, I’m cleaning my own house for now.
If these have worked for you, keep at it! I’ve found what works for my family.
I did grocery pick up for several years until I received a Shipt membership last year at Bloom. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve expressed my affection for Shipt to my husband. I don’t have to worry about my food rotting on a delivery truck, and I have real-time communication with my Shipt shopper as he/she is shopping to make sure I am getting exactly what I need. Shipt is to groceries what Chick-fil-A is to drive-thrus. It’s nothing short of amazing. The best part is, I can shop at Costco using my Shipt app without ever stepping foot into that huge warehouse store. I just can’t think of anything better.
Consider the Cost
All the possibilities I’ve mentioned so far cost money. I understand there may not be money in your budget for these extras. I’ll get to that later. But if you can squeeze some extra out of your budget to help you and your family out, it’s worth it.
For me, in this season, the cost of letting someone else do my task(s) is worth every penny. I spend more on groceries than I would if I drove all over town shopping deals. But my time with my family is worth more to me right now than saving a dime.
If having your house cleaned, receiving minimal prep meals on a delivery truck, or paying someone to grocery shop for you is what gives you some sanity and more time with your family, then I give you full permission to do it. Consider the cost of your time versus the service and what would benefit you the most, then give the service a try. Just because you can do all these tasks yourself doesn’t mean you have to in every season of your life.
Other Outsourcing Ideas
- Mobile car wash. They come to your driveway!
- Mobile dog grooming. Again, they come to your driveway!
- Laundry services. They pick up your clothes, wash and fold them, then bring them back to your house.
- Have some cash reserved for a casserole–“casserole cash,” if you will. There are some places around town that have some yummy ready-made meals. I try to keep cash on me for when we are near our favorite spot so I can buy a couple casseroles from them every month to keep in my freezer.
Free Ways to Outsource
There was a time in my life that I wouldn’t consider outsourcing anything, mostly because we couldn’t afford it. There was no extra in our budget. If that’s you, don’t feel defeated by thinking outsourcing always costs money. There are ways to save time or get some help without spending money.
- Say yes. When someone offers to come over to do laundry or bring you a meal, stop saying no. If someone is asking if they can help you out, most likely they really want to. They want to bless you. Let them, and don’t worry about paying them back.
- If you’re going to be eating dinner anyway, pick one night a week that you don’t cook and order out instead. Pizza and Chinese can feed a family for about the same price that you’d pay to buy ingredients at the store. I can feed my family of five on $10 and some change from our favorite Chinese restaurant.
- Are you desperate for a date night? Ask a friend to keep your kids and pay them back by setting a date to do the same for your friend. Trade out the babysitting without paying for a babysitter.
- If your kids are old enough, divide up the chores between deep cleanings to maintain the cleanliness of your home. Some cleaning wipes and dusting sheets are perfect tools in the hands of little ones to keep your house looking clean. Plus, it keeps your kids busy and buys you some quiet time (at least we can hope for that)!
- Do you need fresh meal ideas but can’t afford a meal delivery service? Call a few friends to double or triple some freezer-friendly recipes. Share amongst yourselves and have some meals for your family that are ready for the oven! Sure, you paid upfront for extra ingredients, but in the end, you have complete meals for your family that you didn’t have to create!
Permission to Outsource
Moms, you are free to outsource! It’s okay to get help with your tasks! You have my official permission to do it without guilt.
What are your favorite ways of outsourcing? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below!