I still remember pulling into Costco on March 12, 2020 right when they opened at 10 a.m. — I was hoping to stop in real quick for a couple things before dropping my kiddos off at grandma’s while I went for a hair appointment. I was 8 months pregnant with our third so taking two toddlers to the grocery store was not exactly what I would have considered ideal, but I figured — with it being a quick trip — we’d be in and out relatively painlessly.
When I pulled in the parking lot looked busy — busier than usual, which I found a little strange. I didn’t think much of it until I walked in and the atmosphere was tangibly different than usual. Everyone was quiet and moving quickly, barely making eye contact, and more and more people were flooding in as I made my way to the produce cooler. Something was definitely amiss.
Reality hit me when I passed the end of the line, which was clear from one side of the building to the other. We all know there are days when Costco is insane (Sunday afternoon being the prime example), but this was like a busy day on steroids, and there was one item everyone had in their carts — toilet paper.
I stood in the longest grocery line I’ve ever been in, I quickly realized that something had changed — all of a sudden the possibility of some foreign virus spreading to the U.S. was becoming more and more real. Needless to say, I cancelled my hair appointment and wouldn’t be back for a cut for over two months.
COVID has caused an innumerable amount of disruptions in everyone’s lives: some minor, some catastrophic. No one can say they are coming out of this pandemic unscathed, but although there’s been a whole lot of frustrations, heartache, and inconveniences throughout the last year, I’ve also seen a lot of good happen in my own life in the midst of it.
I stink at meal prepping. What if I plan a whole week’s worth of meals and Tuesday comes along and I don’t want beef stroganoff? I usually decide what I’m making for dinner the morning of, but then I’m limited to pantry staples and whatever’s in my fridge.
When quarantine began, I suddenly had lots of extra time on my hands. Not only that, but even before COVID I was taking total advantage of grocery pickup — so why not plan a little ahead?
I started by making a list of seven meals for the week. I wouldn’t assign them to specific days to allow myself a little wiggle room when it came to what I felt like eating that day, and when I’d go to make everything I’d make lots. Part of the leftovers were devoted to lunch the next day, and the other part was stashed in the freezer for future “I don’t feel like cooking” days.
Am I still meal planning like this? No. As things are beginning to return to normal, my spare time for sitting down to plan meals is dwindling. I’ll still make double or triple a recipe upon occasion for the freezer, but it certainly isn’t as well-planned out as it was mid-pandemic. Still, it was amazing to have lots of meals in the freezer when I was new mom of three in the middle of quarantine.
There’s something about being stuck at home that makes you a little stir crazy staring at all the clutter and mess. I quickly realized my pantry needed cleaned out, our basement was desperately screaming “consolidate,” and my storage room made me look like a hoarder — unfortunately the excuse “I don’t have time to organize it” became pretty much irrelevant.
Boredom and my nesting instinct combined to give me the prime opportunity to organize. I even had a friend come over to help tackle the messiest room in the house (p.s. — get yourself a friend who’s willing to help you clean out your storage room as a birthday present, and don’t ever let them go).
Is my house totally organized now? Not a chance, but it was definitely great while it lasted.
When being stuck at home was becoming too much for my little family of five, we found ourselves doing one of the only things we could do: picnics. I’d throw a bunch of food in a cooler, pack the kids in the car, and drive. Sometimes we’d have a general idea of where we were going, but most of the time we didn’t — and that’s what made it that much more fun!
As soon as we arrived I’d lay out a picnic blanket on the softest patch of grass I could find and unpack all the miscellaneous goodies — peanut butter and jelly, leftover chicken, cheese & crackers, watermelon, grilled corn and cookies — whatever it was, it felt like a feast. If I was thinking ahead, I’d pack the kite or a frisbee and we’d spend an hour or two eating together and having fun. The fresh air, the warm weather, and the good food and good company became my favorite memories during quarantine.
Now we find any excuse for a picnic — I even keep a picnic blanket in my car for such occasions. If we’re at the zoo, we find a shady spot for lunch and have a picnic. If daddy finds some free time during the work-week, we pick up sandwiches and join him at the playground for a picnic. If the weather is absolutely gorgeous and we’re itching to go outside, we throw everything and everyone in the car and head to the park for a picnic dinner.
There’s so much negativity surrounding the events that have transpired over the last year, but one thing’s for sure — it wasn’t all bad. Maybe I’m just an eternal optimist, but either way I’m thankful for all the rays of sunshine that shone through the clouds on the darkest COVID-filled days.
I wanted to be able to share our love for picnics with everyone, so I actually created a product called The Picnic Date Box that contains everything you need for a picnic — basket, blanket, food, drinks, & more. The pandemic caused so much strain in life, and I just want to give people the opportunity to experience meaningful time together, beautiful weather, and good food with someone they love, just like we did and continue to do. thepicnic.company