It’s a Thursday night and you just invited a friend over for dinner later this weekend.
You’re excited to reconnect and share a meal — until you get a text from this friend: “Hey, just wanted to let you know that I am now a vegan. Hope this won’t be a problem!”
Your heart sinks and anxiety kicks in. What will I make? None of my dishes fit this diet.
Accommodating dietary needs
Does accommodating a dinner guest with dietary restrictions overwhelm you?
Is there a friend whom you’ve avoided inviting over for dinner out of fear that you won’t have a meal that will be both enjoyable and fit his or her diet?
As a gluten intolerant person, I get it. When I first cut gluten out of my diet it really frustrated my friends, family, and me.
(In case you haven’t heard … some gluten free items taste a little like chewing on cardboard. Here’s a list of my favorite go-to gluten free products that I always have in stock.)
At first I created a Pinterest board and started cooking new meals from scratch using special gluten recipes.
Over time however, after adding a few staples to my cooking supplies, I discovered a loophole that made cooking for my diet a breeze!
One Small Win: Rather than making an entirely new dish from scratch, create dishes you already love and modify only the ingredients that don’t fit the diet.
Let’s pretend your signature meal is some kind of pasta dish with meat sauce, but your guest is a vegetarian.
You can make the dish as usual, but leave the meat sauce on the side. You can also make an additional, meat-free sauce and have it on the side, giving your guest options.
Maybe your guest eats meat, but is gluten intolerant? Use certified gluten free pasta instead, and research your other ingredients to see if any of those need replacing.
Here is a worksheet to make this process easier if you are a visual planner like me!
Remember, if all else fails, ask your guest if he or she has any meal recommendations or if specific ingredients will be a problem.
Asking doesn’t make you look dumb; on the contrary, it shows that you care!
Your dinner guest will feel loved and cared for with your efforts and consideration.
Kelsee Keitel is a graduate student, writer and speaker, living in Indianapolis, IN, with her newlywed husband. She is passionate about cultivating sisterhood through vulnerability and introducing young women to the freedom and abundance of life in following Christ. When Kelsee is not snuggled up with a book and sipping tea, she can be found experimenting in the kitchen or chatting with her mom.
You can read more about Kelsee’s ministry, Detangled & Free, over at kelseekeitel.com or connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.
“I didn’t make this mess. So why do I have to clean it up?”
For years, I heard these words of protest from my kids when it was their turn to clean up the kitchen.
Sometimes, I responded with a snarky comeback about all my years of selfless diaper-changing. Other times, I cleaned up the kitchen myself.
Honestly, whenever I took care of the kitchen on my own, I caught myself thinking the exact same thing:
I didn’t make this mess. So why do I have to clean it up?
The problem with cleaning the kitchen
Our protests reveal our belief that whoever makes the kitchen mess should be the one to clean it up.
As with so many time-honored cliches, this seems so logical.
Like, “You break it; you fix it.”
And, “You make your bed; you lie in it.”
“You mess it, you clean it.”
It just felt right.
But it caused all sorts of overwhelmingly negative feelings, such as annoyance, frustration, irritation, and resentment. (Just for starters.)
A different way of thinking
A few years ago, I realized there are valid exceptions to the “you mess it, you clean it” rule.
1. Sometimes, the person who makes the kitchen mess has done so to bless the family, or perhaps a houseful of guests, with a delicious meal. Since they’ve done all the work of fixing the food, it’s only fair for others to pitch in and help with the clean-up.
2. Other times, the kitchen stays messy while a cleaning-related process is happening, such as running the dishwasher or waiting for pots and pans in the drainer to air dry.
3. Often, it’s impossible to figure out “who made this mess.” When we try, we end up in petty arguments:
– “No, that’s not my knife. I put my knife in the dishwasher already!”
– “Those aren’t my crumbs. I know how to use a sponge!”
– “The stain in the sink is green. I never fix green food.”
Our solution to cut the complaining
Instead of wasting our time and energy fretting about “who made this mess?” we started asking ourselves one simple question when entering the kitchen:
“How can I move the kitchen to its next stage?”
Together, we came up with a list of kitchen stages and necessary actions:
The sink is full of dishes. Put them in the dishwasher.
The dishwasher is full. Run it.
The dishwasher is clean. Empty it.
The dishes in the drainer are dry. Put them away.
The counters are crumby. Wipe them down.
This one simple change in focus produced surprising results.
1. We’ve quit worrying about “Who made the mess?” and accepted the fact kitchens get messy.
2. We’ve all taken ownership of the kitchen. And its messes and clean-up.
3. We’ve become more considerate. We realize when we each do our small part, the “next stage” requires far less work.
Making it work for you
Your kitchen stages may well be different than ours. And if you have younger children, you’ll want to break the various stages and actions into micro-steps. Perhaps even make a stages flow chart and wipe-off checklist to put on the fridge.
Consider printing and posting 1 Corinthians 12:14-27 as a reminder that while we are unique individuals, God calls us to work together as one.
One Small Win: However you choose to do it, intentionally change the protest “I didn’t make this mess!” to the question “How can I move the kitchen to its next stage?”
You’ll say, “Good-bye” to overwhelming negativity.
And “Hello” to cooperation in the kitchen.
Cheri Gregory is a teacher, speaker, author, and Certified Personality Trainer. Her passion is helping women break free from destructive expectations. She writes and speaks from the conviction that “how to” works best in partnership with “heart, too.”
Cheri is the co-author, with Kathi Lipp, of The Cure for the “Perfect” Life and Overwhelmed.
Cheri has been “wife of my youth” to Daniel, her opposite personality, for twenty-eight years and is “Mom” to Annemarie (25) and Jonathon (24), also opposite personalities.
Are you a Highly Sensitive Person? Take the self-quiz and discover the surprising strengths of a tender heart.
It’s a new day, ripe with promise and potential … until I walk into the kitchen. Dishes in the sink, counters dotted with dirty dishes and crumbs, and a cluttered table converge to sing a taunting chorus, “You can’t even keep the kitchen clean, how can you accomplish anything today!”
The strains of their tune causes my motivation to plunge to the depths where my only response is to use the messy kitchen as my excuse for another unproductive day.
Organizing the kitchen without being overwhelmed
The overwhelm knocks me off of my game and renders my to-do list unattainable.
I can’t prep dinner until I unload and load the dishwasher, wipe the counters, and find the recipe. Do I even have thyme in the spice cupboard for the soup? I go to the narrow pull-out cupboard of spices and decide then and there that it is time to win a battle.
I remove unalphabetized spices from the cupboard, meanwhile telling the voices in my head to be quiet; I know I don’t have time for this! But I need a win! The thought strikes me that squelching the noisy refrain from the clutter does not require a weekend of organizing and cleaning. I can win this battle one decision at a time, in just 15 minute increments at a time.
And so I record a victory over the spice cupboard! Now I open the spice drawer and I smile. I smile that I can find what I want. I smile at the homemade spice labels that I commissioned my daughter to make. Such a simple accomplishment but it’s huge for my mindset!
I just needed a win. The next day I silence the noise in the cupboard that houses the varying bottles of olive oil. Another win. I will continue to build on this and soon the kitchen will motivate me instead of overwhelm me.
As I bask in my two wins I realize that once the kitchen is a motivator instead of a killjoy I can apply this to other areas of my home and life. Some momentum in the kitchen will spill over to the rest of my responsibilities and perhaps soon I will feel able to tackle the things that I want to do instead of being overwhelmed by all the things I need to do.
One Small Win: For me, the way out from under overwhelmed is to claim one win and allow that to carry me forward. Who knew that one of the kindest things I’ve ever done for myself was to clean out the spice cupboard?
You can read more from Bethany Howard at bethanyhoward.com. She writes about finding fuel for joy and growth in the details of the daily. Her greatest leadership exercise has been her roles as wife and mom to three. She is a graduate of Leverage: The Speaker Conference.
Guest post Paula Tobey
Dear Clutter Free Warriors,
Is there not anything worse than when you are frantically searching for the plastic container lid to give to your company as a parting ‘thank you’ from the feast you just enjoyed, as they are ready to leave – only to be missing the correct fitting lid? Am I the only one that can’t seem to find the right lids when I need them the most? I mean really, why do we keep Tupperware, Ziploc or even Cool-Whip Containers when we cannot even find their correlating lids? Or better yet, you have tons of lids and no containers- because if push came to shove, you could put the food in a container and then put plastic wrap on top (and of course secure it with a rubber band because the wrap really does not stick even though it claims to). How come I can’t ever have enough containers? Well, I decided one day to go on a hunt to figure out this mystery and here is what I found.
We need containers! Containers are awesome and they are useful on so many levels. We put all kinds of things in them and don’t even realize we are doing it! When I went looking I found two in my master bathroom. One had a sponge in it and was used to hold the sponge (and its contents) while cleaning, and the other was holding hair bands, elastics and headbands. I then went into my kid’s bath thinking I’d find similar things, I found another two containers. One had homemade bath soap (which smelled pretty nice!) and the other had teeny tiny plastic pieces much resembling Barbie doll shoes or Polly Pocket type toys in it. I then went to my fridge, and oh boy….. I found my problem. Way too many left overs- experiments actually, and so I needed to clean the fridge out! So there you have it. We loooovvveee our plastic! Here are some basic things you can do to be sure you keep the ‘good stuff’ and recycle the rest.
This Week’s Maintenance Challenge:
- Go through your cabinet that contains your plastic ware. Gut it. Sort out the stuff that is good, bad or ugly. Recycle any of it that is cracked, stained, missing the lid (permanently) or you are not sure where the lid is now.
- Take the big pieces for lots of food, storing big items or used for a purpose like freezing or marinating and nest them on the bottom.
- Take your medium sized ones that you use frequently for leftovers and nest them in the middle.
- Take the smallest ones and nest them on the top.
- Put all of the lids (that match the container) near it so it can be found easier.
- Recycle any that have no mates or are just ugly.
- Vow to repeat this process in another three months.
It really can be quite simple to do this process when it is on your radar. Make a point to stay on top of it before it is out of control. (Now I know you are thinking this would be great if it weren’t your toddler’s favorite place to play. Which IS understandable, but while you are at it, teach that precocious little primate that important concept of clean up time by sharpening his or her mathematical and spatial reasoning by showing them how to sort, nest and store away those ‘fun toys’. It’s never too early for that!
For More Help and Support, Join the Clutter Free Facebook Community
Looking for More ways to Clean the Clutter? Try the 3-Bag Combo!
For great ideas on making your marriage more connected and fulfilled, come on over to my Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/ParentingCoachPaula and check out the posts, books and videos.
Paula Tobey is founder of PheMOMenal Life Ministries a community for women to go get encouraged and equipped to be the best mom’s they can be to their children by living a healthy balanced life and by becoming all that God created them to be. For more information go check out her website here www.PheMOMenalLife.com
Today’s Project is to spend a little more time in the kitchen. Here are some things that you might want to get ahead on:
- Creating your meal plan for the rest of the month
- Planning out your Christmas Dinner and your shopping list
- Shopping for your non-perishables
- Making the list of what you need to buy at the last minute so it’s fresh
- Pulling out your serving platters, roasting pans, cake stands, etc. or anything else that you need
- Pulling together your baking list
Let me know in the comments what you are doing for this Project and I’ll be giving away another copy of THE WHAT’S FOR DINNER SOLUTION. Tell me by Friday what you did to get ahead kitchen-wise, and you could be a winner!