In February 2015, a OnePoll survey for online supermarket Ocado revealed that the average Briton makes the same nine meals on rotation. This research was backed up by a later survey commissioned by HelloFresh that found only 40% of British adults have more than nine meals they can cook from scratch. I was so surprised by this that I immediately set about scribbling out the list of meals that find their way onto our family table with regularity. Surely we were making more than nine?!
While our repertoire of 22 meals gratifyingly outstripped the average, I was still surprised at how limited our range was. Of course, I tried to justify this. At the time the children were 8 and 9 years old, so what we served had to take them into account. I was also working full-time and long hours that at one point included a 6-hour daily commute four times a week. I realised then and now these were simply excuses. I continued to ruminate on what we were eating and I worked at adding in a new dish here and there.
By July 2018 I had reached a turning point in my own eating habits prioritising wholefoods and focusing on eliminating processed goods and refined sugar. As I began stripping the processed store items from our cupboards I was keen to increase the variety of foods we consume. It didn’t take long before I’d set myself a challenge to cook as many different meals as I could in 365 days.
There are some important caveats that served to limit what was achievable between July 18 and July 19. I love leftovers; if I can eek a dish into two or even three meals, I will. Working away from home from time to time, necessitates eating out and there are invitations from friends and family and holidays away. On the odd occasion of a school bake sale, I’m ashamed to admit I have been known to dine simply on cake and wine. There has also been the odd uprising. Most notable was when I tried to add an Eggs Benedict Casserole to the menu. Choruses of “can’t we just have Eggs Benedict” left me questioning my motives for trying to impose a twist on what was already a favourite. And finally, if my husband offered to cook, I took advantage of this and ate whatever was on offer.
You can read more about my foray into spicing up our menu in 2018/2019 here. After reflecting on a year of culinary experimentation I decided a new challenge was in order for 2020. Now you can read about my goal of preparing 292 different homemade and healthy meals over 365 days from 1 January 2020.
While I’m an exponent of variety in all things there are one or two areas of life where consistency is king.
The first is sleep. Getting enough and going to bed and rising at the same time each day are the cornerstones to feeling and performing at your best. When it comes to sleep there’s little or no place for variety (unless travel or your career dictate otherwise).
I also consider consistency an important factor when it comes to how we behave. Our relationships, whether with partners, kids or colleagues benefit from a degree of predictability. Volatile, capricious or impulsive behaviour can leave others feeling uneasy or in a permanent state of high alert, which does not make for a healthy foundation for good relations.
In these area - I'm OK with keeping things the same!