How Meal Planning Saved Me
I was holding on by a very thin thread 5 weeks ago. But meal planning helped keep that thread strong, and it saved my sanity.
I’m a caregiver. Not just any caregiver. I’m a caregiver to 3 kids 8 and under whom I homeschool. And on the week of May 22nd, I became a caregiver to my husband, a wonderful man who’s 100% involved in his fair share of household and parenting duties at normal times. But that week was not a normal time. And you may think I’m being a bit dramatic, but meal planning really did save me that week, a week that started quietly enough. But it sure didn’t stay quiet.
We had just enjoyed a lovely holiday weekend. My husband never told me about the tiny scrape on his finger, on which some motor oil fell as he was fixing our lawn mower. The next day, his finger was three times its normal size. At my coaxing, he finally went down to the hospital, where it was confirmed that he had the dreaded flesh-eating bacteria (strep A) in his body. Thankfully, he got to the hospital in time, before the bacteria’s toxins travelled to his bloodstream. But the infection had already destroyed part of his finger, and doctors had to perform surgery on his hand to drain it all out, put him on IV antibiotics, and give him hydromorph (a painkiller 5 times stronger than morphine) to control the pain.
My strong, wonderful husband was incredibly stoic, and the doctors didn’t understand how bad the situation was until they made small incision to drain the fluid—and that’s when they found the necrotizing tissue. To make a long story short, my husband is out for the count for the next several weeks as his body fights off the infection and deals with the slew of medicine he has to take.
As a homeschooling mom who also does freelance writing full time at very odd hours to fit it all in, my schedule went completely out the window the minute we understood the seriousness of my husband’s situation. The laundry piled up. The house is a mess. The kids’ lessons weren’t quite as structured as usual. But we still ate that first week. And we ate well. All because of meal planning.
I learned to meal plan way before my first daughter was born—I wanted to make sure I could truly rest after her birth, so I meal planned and prepped meals for the first 2 weeks post-partum. I had a freezer full of awesome meals that I could pull out as needed, and I haven’t looked back since. Life happens, though, and some weeks, the meal planning doesn’t. It’s on those weeks that we end up not eating well. Thankfully, that first week was not one of those weeks.
But my husband is still ill, and it turns out our entire household was affected by the strep bacteria, which means the second week of this ordeal, the entire family (myself included) was on antibiotics. So now, I was managing medications for 5 people, being the wound dressing nurse for my husband's hand, still homeschooling kids, still delivering my work on time, and trying to maintain some semblance of normalcy.
Yep, the third week of this craziness didn't go so well on the meal prep front. Fortunately for me, I have a good friend who is also a fan of meal planning, and who simply doubled one of her meals during her weekly meal prep to help us out.
Of course, it takes a village, and a number of other people also stepped in to help over the next few weeks. But that first week, when we were still trying to get used to our new normal, and I didn't even know who or what to ask for help with, having meal planned and prepped ahead of time sure was a life saver.
Here’s how meal planning saved me during this whole ordeal. Because I had meal planned, we were able to still eat healthfully and at regular intervals, even with the chaos happening around us. We were able to save money. And even though the stress on me was very great, I was able to keep myself together (mostly) because there was one less stressor in the way: the age old question, “what am I going to do about dinner?” My dinners were already planned.
Believe me, having to figure out what to feed my family might have been the straw the broke the camel’s back. But as for now, the camel’s still going. With a renewed conviction that meal planning really is everything it’s cracked up to be. And it doesn’t have to be hard.
There's a tonne of tools to help you with meal planning—including Meal Garden. Using this tool for yourself as well as for your clients can help immensely on any regular day, but especially in times of crisis. Why not try it free for a week?