Laura and Mike order in most nights, and so does Mona. Another client, Paul told me he had cooked at home three times in the three years he had lived there. While fine in the short term, not using the home kitchen is one of the leading causes of apartment death in this country.
Your home serves two primary functions that have been historically in place since the first cavemen dragged themselves into their first cave: the walls give you shelter and the hearth allows you to cook and keep warm. At first the hearth was a fire, then it was a fireplace, then it became a stove, now it is in danger of existing only in the bright flicker of the television. Many people keep the television on for emotional warmth, eat in front of it and allow it to be the center of their apartment. This is too bad, and on at least one night, it should be turned off and the real hearth restored.
Sunday night is the most important night to cook at home, and by far the sweetest once you get into the habit...
...Many of us are so busy that it is hard to count on any other night of the week to be home for a meal, but Sunday night should be reserved for you and your apartment. Sunday is the quiet day before your busy week begins and the best time to check in with yourself, your partner, your family, prepare for the week ahead, and nourish yourself and your home in the process, thereby strengthening your foundation.
A perfect Sunday night looks something like this:
5 pm - head out on foot and shop for dinner
Sunday is the day for a roast, and roast chicken and vegetables are my favorite. But be sure that you do the roasting! Buy good, organic ingredients and you can spoil yourself with a nice cheese and dessert as well. Don't buy just dinner! Take this time to stock your fridge for the week, so that you don't have to spend as much/rely as much on others.
And buy good stuff. I believe that for much less money than you spend eating out, you can buy gourmet food and ingredients to stock your home. Treat yourself to food you like to provide yourself with extra incentive to eat at home.
This is also a good time to purchase flowers for your table or bedroom.
6 pm - Get home and clean up
After a busy week, you may have to clean up your apartment in order to get cooking. Good. This is part of what it is all about. Clean up the kitchen, change your sheets, run laundry, take out the garbage….using your home is the best incentive to keeping it in fine shape, and if you take no other time in the week, then this one day will do. The goal here is to make it comfortable and fresh for the week ahead. Keep the television off tonight, put on some music instead.
6:30 pm - Start Cooking
Depending on how much cleaning you have to do or if there are one or two of you at home, cooking could start later or sooner. The important thing is that it is early. An early dinner on Sunday night helps calm down your system and allows you to go to bed earlier. After a late night on Friday and Saturday, you don't want to go to be late again.
Whether you are cooking by yourself or with a partner, you are now deep in home time. This is when you review your weekend, your past week, and think about what you want to do in the week ahead. While you chop vegetables or sauté garlic, you are giving yourself space to let the dust settle, fold up all the rumpled clothes of your mind, and refocus on what is important to you.
If one of you is cooking and the other not, this is the time to share a small glass of wine with a good cheese and cracker, while you talk. This is not about denial, it is about domestic enjoyment.
This is also a good time to call your family (but not if they drive you crazy).
7:30 pm - Sit down to dinner
Again, this is a ritual that will enrich you even if you are sitting down to dinner by yourself. When alone, I love to read something that I haven't had time for all week. And don't sit on the couch for god's sake. Stay away from the living room, and eat in your dining room, even if it is only a dining table on the side of your living room.
The richest, most satisfying part of the evening comes when you bite into food that you have cooked. There is nothing quite like a home cooked meal, and if you doubt your skill in the kitchen, Sunday night is a good time to experiment with recipes and new ingredients. Even cooking spaghetti can be an experiment.
8:30 pm - Clean up and go for a walk
If you have done a good job, you have cooked more than enough food for this one night and now have some delicious leftovers for the week ahead. Now you can come home any night of the week and heat up a great meal in 15 minutes, saving yourself a good deal of money from eating out.
Cleaning up is important. You don't want to wake in the morning to dirty dishes of any kind, so clean everything and put everything away. Scrub down all the surfaces, including your dining table, and throw out any old food in your fridge before you put leftovers away. Take this time to clean your kitchen deeply.
Head out for a walk. Getting out and moving after a meal is good for digestion and another good way to clear the air and give yourself time to talk or think about what is going on in your life. Use this time wisely. Between partners this is the time to talk about problems or worries and iron them out (if you haven't done so already).
9:30pm - Get ready for bed (with a book)
Getting to bed early on Sunday night is one of the best ways of ensuring a successful week. You will be up early, rested and ready for whatever work or madness comes your way. I hate to go to bed, so for those people I recommend a hot herbal tea and reading in bed. Reading should not be work related, it should be fiction. Fiction is expansive, creative and invigorating and something we rarely get a chance to read as we get older. If there is nothing you can think of reading, get a classic and dive in.
10:00pm - Lights out!
Sounds impossibly early, doesn't it? It won't feel early if you have eaten early and done everything else on this list. This is a big night at home, and you will find yourself pleasantly tired and looking forward to the next day (note: melatonin pills are a safe, natural way of inducing drowsiness if this is a problem). No more Sunday Blues.
A home needs to be used. Using your home is the best way to take care of it. If you have taken these hours at home, you have touched on almost every part of your apartment, strengthening both the foundation of your home and the foundation of your own person. You and your home are nourished, rested and prepared.