Get that beach bum back into the kitchen.
Young blonde housewife having a headache while preparing dinner.
Credit: Getty Images; Credit: skynesher

It is a good day when you can turn off your computer, set your automated Out of Office replies, and truck on out of town for vacation. You’re free! That said, returning to a disaster of a desk, an onslaught of unanswered emails, and a to-do list longer than you thought possible is a headache, to say the least. On top of all of this, your fridge is also completely empty and you haven’t cooked for yourself in a week. #ItsFine #EverythingIsFine

Rather than undoing a week of rest and relaxation in coming back to a stress-inducing nightmare, take a deep breath and know that you can return to your pre-vacation, day-to-day lifestyle without going completely insane (you may have to tolerate a little insanity). Don’t cry because your time away from reality is over, smile because it happened… and kick your a$$ into gear because it’s time to get back in your routine. Here’s how:

Go to the Grocery Store

Okay, this might be obvious, but it’s a critical and unavoidable first step. TBH, mustering up the strength to get this out of the way is truly a domino effect—it will help you get motivated even quicker. One good thing leads to another, while putting it off will only lead to sustained misery. So, just do it! Why are you still sitting? Why aren’t you getting up? Go. Do. It. 3-2-1-now! Woo hoo!

Go For the Basics

The first trip back to the supermarket should not cost an entire paycheck. Overwhelming a scarce fridge is just as detrimental as continuing to deprive it. Eggs, milk, salad greens, fresh fruits, avocados, potatoes, rotisserie chicken, and maybe a block of cheese are all great places to start. Think along the lines of the foods that you don’t have because you probably tossed them before heading out of town. Canned beans, frozen veggies, and your favorite grain, while not perishable items, are also going to be super clutch in your desperate plea to be a contributing member of society once again (dramatic? Oh well). Pick up what you’re feeling for the week, and move right along. No need to completely restock your kitchen right now.

Skip the Big Batch Recipe

As much as we love a solid dish that will get you through a week of lunches, that might be a bit ambitious for a week that you’re just praying to hold on. Save those bookmarked recipes that you’ve been itching to try out, and stick to the basics for this week. Bean salads, avo-egg toast, chicken salad, and grain salads are all very legit starting points. Flexible eating is going to be the name of the game this week—don’t get too tied up in a formal recipe. You’re just...not ready for that kind of strenuous activity quite yet. Make do with what you have and what you know you like.

Skip Writing Out Your Meals

If you’re that disciplined, organized eater who finds time to carve out a game plan for each week’s eating schedule, allow me to suggest that this week, you just don’t. This week is about taking things one meal at a time. You’re probably grasping on for dear life in every other aspect of your life, so let your meal decisions be made with a go-with-the-flow, whatever-works mentality. Next week, you’ll be caught up (sort of) and actually have time to be a proactive planner, so wait until then.

Don’t Beat Yourself Up

Getting back in the swing of things is never easy (physically and mentally), especially when you’re still on island time. If you need to run through the Whole Foods prepared food section, pick up a few frozen dinners from good ol’ TJ’s, or dare I say, resort to takeout for dinner, then do that. We didn’t say you’d be majestically galloping into the horizon on a white stallion—as long as you’re slowly crawling your way back onto the horse, then that’s all that counts.

By Sara Tane and Sara Tane