Over the Plate
plate lingering and life tinkering
Sara Furlich


I have habits.  Deeply entrenched habits.  White on rice type of habits.  Husband rolls his eyes kind of habits.  Some I love.  Some I loathe.  I am most proud of my habit of learning and questioning.  The habit of reading and learning brings pleasure and freedom.  I am never bored.  One of the habits I am most famous for in my house is my habit of exploration.  I have been known to be so excited about a discovered caterpillar that my family thought I was injured.  There is also a door knob that still needs repair from bursting through the back door with a specimen in clutched hands.  Cue husband eye roll.  These quirky habits I wear proudly.….My habits with paperwork? Not so much.  If a cluttered desk is a cluttered mind, then it’s pretty cluttered up in here. 

Some say habits rule 99% of life.  If I wasn’t convinced of this before becoming a parent, I am now.  I see my habits rubbing off on my kids.  The good and the bad.  Charlotte Mason, a 19th century educator said, “habits are to life what rails are to transport cars.  It follows that lines of habit must be laid down towards given ends…More, habit is inevitable.  If we fail to ease life by laying down habits of right thinking and right acting, habits of wrong thinking and wrong acting fix themselves of their own accord (Philosophy of Education, p. 101).”

Easing life? Count me in!  Freeing time to serve others and pursue my passions and those whom I love? Let’s go!  So, what are my “given ends?”  Where do I want this train to go?  I am much more intentional with “given ends” with my children because I don’t want them to have the same bad inevitable habits I have.  But how do I fail to ease my own life with intentional habits toward given ends? 

The habit I wish I had most right now isn’t even about my cluttered desk.  Which habit would ease my life most?  Wait for it…wait for it…The daily quest for a dinner meal for my family.  Yep, I would rather have my nose in a book or a phone call with a frustrated parent than be in the kitchen.  And these lovely people who inhabit this home expect to be fed EVERY SINGLE DAY.  My oldest is 15.  Why am I still struggling with this habit?  I have at least 11 more years of it.  It isn’t going away anytime soon.

Here are my neat little magnets on my refrigerator with meals categorized and color-coded.  Meal Magnets.jpg

Here are my individual binders by food group with our favorite “go to recipes”.  Meal Binders.jpg

I have two different crockpots and a plethora of cooker recipes.  The children are well trained to write diminishing supplies on the grocery list.  Grocery Lis.jpg  

The systems are in place people!  So why am I still scrambling at 3:30 in the afternoon when kids need homework help and chauffeur services?  Why does the question “What’s for dinner?” get met with a growl?...not always an inaudible one either.   I avoid 45 minutes of work a week that would save me HOURS of frustration.  Not to mention the money we would save on our food bill by being more efficient.   Why?

The unintentional habit of impulsive food planning is deeply ingrained.  The rails are well maintained.  The spikes are deep and solid.  These rails won’t be rerouted without a major act of civil engineering. The thing about habit construction is it takes consistency.  A visit from John Henry isn’t going make this any quicker.

I guess I don’t like all the mental steps involved.  I hate the shopping list part.  I pick the meals but then I have to go inventory the pantry to reconcile our stock with the list.  Then the self-criticism starts.  I see the package of flax seeds that remains unopened.  Then the questions flood: Is my meal planning about convenience or health?  Am I teaching my children good eating habits?  What about whole foods?  Do we have enough of those?  I can’t believe a CAN of green beans is in my house!  Didn’t I promise myself, “I would never…”?  Perfectionism.  All or nothing thinking.  Paralyzed = Inevitable habits.

I AM a creature of habit.  I accept that.  Hi, my name is Sara and I have a habit of meal planning procrastination.  I diligently hold my children accountable in the formation of good habits but fail to do the same in my own.  Check out our next post where I show you the habit training system we use at our house.  Now Mom is going to have her own habit tags! Pictures to prove it.


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