31 Days of the Little Way: Making Dinner Without a Plan

It’s 5 p.m., and it’s time to make dinner.
But I have no plan.
I glance through the pantry and then the freezer, looking for an idea between the half-boxes of fish sticks and frozen waffles.
Aha! Back in the corner is a package of ground beef.
“Maybe I could make sloppy joes?” I say.
My husband seems unenthusiastic. “How about spaghetti?”
“I don’t think we have any sauce,” I say. But there in the pantry are two jars. And there’s a box of spaghetti I thought we ate weeks ago. Who knew?

Then, as I’m sautéing the beef and adding the sauce, I spot a few leftover rolls in a bag on the counter. They’re stale and headed for the trash tomorrow, but maybe, just maybe, I can make them work to serve them with our scraped-together meal.
I melt a little butter, add lots of garlic and a little dried parsley to it, and cook it for a few minutes on the stove. Then I drizzle it over the very dry rolls and put them in the oven for 10 minutes.
Almost by magic, just before 6 p.m., the sauce is ready, the pasta is cooked, and what I’ve decided to refer to as “garlic knots” look and smell delicious.

I call everyone to the table. We sit together and enjoy a dinner that an hour ago was just a vague notion—and now seems like the best meal we’ve had all week.
After dinner, as I’m loading the dishwasher, I think how fortunate we are to have so much. Even when I think the cupboard is bare, we have a feast on hand. I just need to do a little hunting and be open to the possibilities.
Then I think about myself. So many days I feel like a bare cupboard, low on energy and patience, with so little to give. Yet somehow, even when I think I can’t possibly find the strength to handle the most basic tasks, God knows I have the resources to take on much more—and He gives me what I need to make that happen.
Of course He does. Our Creator knows me, my abilities, and my needs better than I know myself.

Catholic Review

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.