Picnic in the Park

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Ever since I moved in with Payam I’ve been a stickler about making a meal plan. Every Sunday I faithfully write it on white board in the kitchen for everyone in the family to see. I’m kind of obsessive about and it has been becomes a source of stress for me. Mostly this is because I have kids who like wildly different foods and I’m pretty much guaranteed to have at least one person unhappy with me every day of the week. It’s like planned failure every damn day.

Why do I care so much? I don’t know. My parents served me fish sticks and I survived. But I guess I’ve got some lofty ideal in my mind and I’m having trouble letting that go.

If I ask the family for help with the weekly plan that doesn’t work either. Everyone in my house is a visual eater (including Payam) which means they can’t imagine what they want to eat unless they can see it.  They swing open the pantry door and hem and haw but nothing ever comes to them.  They stand in front of the refrigerator: same story with cold air wafting out.

A fully photographed menu would work awesome for them but I’m not up to creating that. I’m a graphic designer and photographer by trade but it would be epic amounts of work.  Can you imagine the weekly versions? TV commercials also work amazingly on them but I’m not up for eating pizza or fast food every night of the week either. Did I mention that one of the kids loves Olive Garden and the other does NOT. One of the kids loves In-N-Out and the other does NOT. You can guess which one is which.  Bottom line: I’m never going to make everyone happy.

Payam says to make what I want and call it a day. I’m trying to work on that. Some days I win at trying and I even get compliments on my cooking (which is like heaven opening and harp music playing). Most days I don’t win.
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One of my weekly plans was a picnic dinner. It was actually kind of brilliant.  I’m often out walking the dogs around dinner time and I noticed that the weather is absolutely lovely around six. The heat of the day has finally dissipated and the light is really pretty and golden, shining through the trees and making long shadows. It’s really a great time of the day to be outside and not inside cooking.

And the dogs love it too!

I decided to cut my losses, get drive-thru fast-food that everyone likes and meet up at the park. We took the dogs, leashed them to a nearby barbecue and had a perfectly nice dinner with no one complaining. It was golden.

picnic-3Then we played soccer…picnic-4and took a walk around the lake…picnic-5

The kids were happy and didn’t spend the whole time arguing with each other…

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Dogs were walked. People got exercise…picnic-7

Pokemon were hunted… it was just really, really nice. picnic-9

I’m not proud of the fast-food part.  It was delicious like only McDonald’s french fries and a two cheeseburger meal can be, but of course I wish I had packed gourmet sandwiches that were a bit more healthy or even picked up some take-out that was a little less cholesterol-filled but it was quick and easy and most importantly, family-pleasing.

I’ve since organized a healthy homemade sandwich picnic for the beach and that went a little less smoothly (sand, dogs, chaos…) but it was still was really nice. I’m working out the kinks. But if I can write anything about this experience it is my old mantra that I write about over and over here. I must make the effort. Getting outside for dinner before winter sets in is totally worth the pain in the neck of planning it.

Is there a support group for meal-planning? I’m thinking I should start one.