Have you ever set unrealistic expectations when thinking about planning your weekly meals while trying to run a business? What happens when we overcommit or try to plan too many meals in our week?
Is there a way to bring back the lost art form of sitting down for a family meal and freeing up additional time to relax after a long day?
Listen to Tricia Clark discuss the unrealistic expectations we put on ourselves as women and business owners and how we can give ourselves the grace to realistically manage our time and meals.
How did you start your business and what made you choose to be a cook coach and mentor? [1:21]
Tricia: I’ve worked in corporate America my entire career, while raising my children and juggling everything, which includes a full-time job. During that time, I also struggled to have dinner on the table for my family. That’s when I discovered a love for cooking.
The real struggle was after getting home from work at the end of the day, I was trying hard not to be that ugly monster that was throwing things around and trying to get one kid to stop crying; and one to do their homework. It was stressful.
My love for cooking eventually led to entertaining and having guests over for dinner; I loved to make connections during those dinner parties. Those parties, those dinners, really shifted my perspective about what mealtime could be verse what it had been to my family.
My mother sold Pampered Chef for years and as I had gotten older, we started to cook together, and it was so enjoyable so I wanted to bring that experience into my household as well.
After I lost my mom about six years ago, I thought “Selling Pampered Chef was a way to still have a connection with her,” so I’ve been doing that for about four years.
I would meet so many amazing people who I could help with a simple tool or help with a easy meal, people who I could make their lives easier. I also met so many people who dreaded cooking, some who even hated it.
I knew that there had to be a different way, a better way, no matter what I heard, to go about helping them in the kitchen.No matter what I heard, it still came down to, in my opinion, mindset and boundaries. Many people were afraid of failing and had unrealistic expectations to be perfect in the kitchen.
Then at the age of 52, I started to see and learn who I really was, what my gifts were and thought, “I think I know what I want to do with this gift!” So I started helping other people in the kitchen in a mentorship role.
Everything evolved over time as I figured out what worked for me and saw the different ways I can help people as I want to in the kitchen.
There’s a way to make a meal simpler and more enjoyable so that you’re not dreading it, and again, it’s just letting a person take advantage of that missed time with their family.
My son is 18, my daughter is 22, but in the last few years, I’ve really focused on making those connections and getting my son in the kitchen with me.
How do you juggle a traditional job while starting your business? [9:16]
Tricia: My son is still home with me and in his senior year in high school, so it’s busy and he’s involved in jazz and orchestra. He’s always busy and there’s a lot going on with him, but I would say one of my biggest struggles is really setting those office hours and creating a business around my life versus creating a life around my business.
I’ve really been focused on time blocking and boundaries. I’ve had to really set a schedule for myself. My day job is pretty demanding so if I get a lunch break it’s usually 30 minutes so I’ll take that time to check in on different aspects of my business.
I also try to take 30 minutes a day to check in on social media. Then I set aside an hour every night after work to knock out the rest of it. Because my business is focused on cooking, I’m recording content all the time because I’m cooking all the time.
I take pictures of everything I cook. I record videos of a lot of different nights that I’m cooking and I found a way to incorporate that into my daily content schedule.
I have time on Saturday and Sunday, even though I don’t take a full day off. I love enjoying my Saturday mornings in bed with coffee and breakfast; hanging out with the dogs and my husband.
I get my laptop out around 9 or 10 am so my working time is from 9 to 1 on Saturday and Sunday and then after one, it’s family or friend time. When I’m not trying so hard, I notice more traction, more engagement, and that’s been such a difficult lesson for me to learn.
Meal planning feels like a lost arm form and you mentioned that there’s fellowship, sharing, and healing that happens around a meal. Can you share more on this? [14:34]
Tricia: This all goes back to when my kids were little and not running around. To be honest, we have dinner together every night, but rarely do we all sit at the table.
So, I use the proverbial table but we may be sitting on the couch watching TV. Everyone is different and I’ve found what works for us.
I manage to keep my family engaged and I honestly don’t care where that is. I’ve discovered that the difficult conversations that I had to have with them were much easier if we were around a meal.
If we were around the table and we already had something that we were sharing, it was already communal. They already felt comfortable rather than when I would try to have a conversation in the car, which seemed to come off as more attack mode for either side.
Every family has tension and difficult conversations and I just felt that it was easy around a meal, especially for a larger family like I have. There’s something about that sharing of food that I think really brings out that connection.
For me, cooking is the ultimate act of service, because if I serve you a meal, I’ve put all of my heart into it and I know you can feel it when we sit down. That changes the dynamic of everything that happens during the meal.
What are your best tips for when people are feeling overwhelmed with planning their meals and/or cooking each week? [18:01]
Tricia: Start small and keep it simple. Don’t try to plan 7 meals if you don’t like to cook. It’s not realistic for you. It’s even not for anybody. We have one night, and it’s called fend for yourself.
We also have one night a week that we eat out. Then I cook three or four nights a week. So honestly, give yourself some grace on what the expectation is and where that expectation came from.
But I would say start small. Maybe it’s one meal together a week. That doesn’t have to be a gourmet meal either.
It doesn’t have to be anything all planned out. Stick with one pot, one meal: minimal ingredients. Keep them basic because it’s not about cooking the best food. One of my favorite things to cook – It’ll get my son out of his room and in the kitchen with me every single time – is grilled cheese.
We just mix it up so I get him in there and sometimes instead of a plain grilled cheese, we might add bacon and apple to it. Suddenly, it’s a new dish and a new food.
There’s excitement around it again and even better? It took five more minutes. So those are my my biggest tips; keep it simple and get your kids involved in the kitchen.
Doesn’t have to be every time and I know it can be excruciating but it’s so worth it. It’s so worth it and you can get your kids in the kitchen as young as three with different simple tasks.
I have several recipes that are less than 30 minutes, with five to six ingredients. There’s a lot of ways you can do it, but I hear from a lot of people that meal planning, like even knowing what to cook or where to start, is the hold up.
Another tip is to keep your kitchen stocked with all the basics that you know your family likes so that meal planning doesn’t have to be a long, drawn-out process that takes hours.
Have you been doing this with your family since your kids were born? Or is this something that in the past couple of years you’ve kind of made the transition to focus on markets really morphed throughout the years? [25:28]
Tricia: I didn’t get my kids started in the kitchen early enough, but I wanted them to have a better relationship with food than I had, so I started trying to incorporate vegetables at a very young age, but I didn’t quite get them in the kitchen early enough.
I was still in the phase of ‘I had to do it all myself, all hours of the day, and run myself ragged.” Then I got more comfortable cooking, even with recipes, but even then, I tweak it and make it my own.
My son likes to cook and be involved in the kitchen. I let them have that creativity, but it’s been quite a journey. I would say in the last four years, I’ve gotten more comfortable with creating my own recipes, putting my own tweaks to them.
It didn’t start out that way but I found that I really had a knack for it, even with substituting certain ingredients such as pears for apples. Or even to adding bacon to that grilled cheese. 10 years ago, I would have been searching the internet like crazy for the right recipe or how to execute it exactly like it was laid out.
We talk about the lost art of mealtimes and how it becomes an afterthought. It’s something we must do vs. taking the stress out of doing the cooking when you sit down to have that meal.
It’s a different mindset and there’s just so much around that. There’s hope for everyone.
CONNECT WITH TRICIA CLARK