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Can we talk a little bit about the busy-ness trap? You know. That whole thing where, as a society, we compete against each other to see who is the busiest and who deserves our collective pity for being the most overworked and overscheduled?
I used to really take pride in my busy-ness. I proudly would declare that I worked five jobs while in college. I’d subtly gloat about the fact that I stayed up until 2am the other night working on a project. I’d giggle at people who thought they were “busy”. I mean, didn’t they know? I was in the running for the Queen Bee of Busy-ness, and they were way far behind. I mean, they had time to sit down and eat at an actual table and have a conversation with their family. Slackers.
I thought I had to prove my worth by the amount of hours I worked or the number of projects I had going on or the things I checked of my list. More specifically, I thought I had to prove I was worthy of my wonderful, happy, and privileged life by busy-ifying myself so much that I became depressed and overwhelmed. If I wasn’t suffering, then I didn’t deserve it.
Holy self-sabotage, Batman! Talk about a Catch 22. I felt like to fully appreciate my charmed life, I had to work so hard for it that I didn’t have the emotional capacity to enjoy it. Not logical, Cass. You’re smarter than that!
So about six months ago, I went cold turkey. I stopped glorifying being busy. I stopped feeling inadequate or unproductive if I took an afternoon off. I stopped counting the number of hours I worked in a week to make sure I was working “enough” (what is “enough” anyway?!). I just stopped. I’m not sure what clicked, but man, am I glad it did.
Now, let me tell you how un-busy I am. I don’t work on the weekends. I don’t even open my laptop. Every Wednesday morning? I take a few hours and go get coffee with my wonderful husband. Just the two of us. I try to make sure I don’t have more than two appointments per week. I regularly tell friends and family that I can’t visit or attend events for no reason other than, “I don’t want to.”
My house isn’t spic and span. I read a book to Juniper almost every time she asks me to (although, admittedly, it is kinda hard to stop in the middle of cooking dinner to read). I do yoga every single day. We eat dinner at our kitchen table every single night. Our parties are very un-Pinterest-worthy. I skipped the country for three weeks this past summer just to have fun with my family.
Sometimes I go weeks without posting anything new to my blog. I don’t have that “replies within minutes” thing on my Facebook page. Projects take me months to accomplish instead of days. I don’t sign on to things anymore just because I feel like I “should” (I’m looking at you book deals). I’m not able to keep up with the latest trends.
I am not busy. Not even a little bit. Is my life full? Yes. Do I work hard? Yes. But am I busy? Nope. And my gosh, I am so happy about that.
Now, I know there are people who are legitimately strapped for hours in their day (hellooooo, parents who work out of the home!), but I think a lot of us make busywork for ourselves. We make life more complicated than it has to be, and oftentimes, we make it more complicated than is even enjoyable.
And, besides that, we all have a different busy-ness thresholds. I don’t do so hot with a full plate. Ask that husband of mine, Cass is a grumpy girl when she’s overscheduled. Maybe you don’t have that problem! Maybe you thrive with a packed calendar. But the fact of the matter is, busy-ness is all relative. What feels “busy” to me might be a cakewalk to you. What feels like a lazy Sunday to me, might feel like Chaos City to someone else. Comparing it all is TOTALLY WORTHLESS.
If you feel overwhelmed, try to figure out a way (no matter how small) you can help alleviate it. If you don’t feel overwelmed, well then, keep on keepin’ on! That’s it. Ignore the person sitting next to you and what they are doing. Check in with you, and make changes if they need to be made.
So what in the heck does this all have to do with this One Pot Lemon Orzo with Shrimp? I swear, I’m getting there.
One of the ways that I made the transition from busy to unbusy was to make some clear shifts in the areas of my daily life that were consistent time sucks—like email (oh gosh, my inbox management is another story for another time), laundry, and, the point of this post, weeknight dinners.
I gave myself permission to STOP making more work for myself on days that were already packed (read: weekdays). I thought I had to have an Instagram-worthy dinner every night of the week or the world would implode. Guess what? I had cereal for dinner the other night and the world is still spinning.
Out the window went rushing to finish a complicated recipe at 7pm on a Tuesday night, in the window went a repertoire of super easy dinners that we repeat, love, and finish with enough time leftover before bedtime to actually spend some family time together. And this One Pot Lemon Orzo with Shrimp is one of them.
This dinner feels fancy and complicated, but it all comes together in one pot in about a half hour. And this isn’t one of those one pot meals that actually needs a pot, a skillet, three soup spoons, a colander, a whisk, a pairing knife, and a whole set of mixing bowls. This is literally one. pot. At the end of the night, your sink should have these items in it: cutting board, knife, zester, pot, lid, spoon, and your plates. And maybe a wine glass depending on how your day went. Done.
Speaking of pots (I swear, I’ll get to the recipe eventually), let me tell you about my favorite pot for one-pot meals like this: it’s this Lodge Dutch oven. I know a lot of fuss is made about those fancy French ovens, and I wouldn’t turn one down if it came and knocked on my door, but for my money, you cannot beat the Lodge one. It’s like 1/5th of the price and amazing quality. It goes from the stove to the oven and back again without an issue. It’s heavy, sturdy, and could totally be used as a weapon if someone broke into your house. And my gosh, she’s a beaut, Clark. Highly recommended.
If you are a veggie, you can easily leave out the shrimp, and this is still a really awesome one-pot meal. I would maybe toss in a can of drained and rinsed white beans right before serving to up the fiber and protein—that’ll make it feel more filling.
And I always try to use whole wheat orzo when I can. Delallo has a really great whole wheat orzo, but I can’t find it in store anywhere around me. So if I’m shopping in a brick-and-mortar grocery store, I usually have to go with white orzo. But if you live somewhere fancy that sells whole wheat orzo? DO IT.
Alright, I’m going to shut up now. Enjoy the recipe, and revel in your unbusy-ness after you make it, k?
Free up some time in your evening with this One Pot Lemon Orzo with Shrimp. It’s nutritious, delicious, and ready in less than a half hour! Inspired by Damn Delicious.
To make it veggie: leave out the shrimp, and instead stir in a drained and rinsed can of white beans.
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this looks amazing!!!
i think it is so important to check in with ourselves…and about being busy, my boyfriend and i have had arguments about who is busy and who works the hardest because, like you both mentioned, we want to gloat about tight schedules, never ending deadlines, and be miserable. on the blogging end, there is so much going around, i cant take it on the weekend so i hardly ever open my laptop and it feels awesome!!!
now email management, its a whole different world there. im cringing as i type this. i am all for one pot dinner,,and adding beans sounds weird but a good weird combo! i have not seen whole wheat orzo, will keep my eyes out.
No one ever wins the “who’s the busiest?” battle, do they? And my one tip for email management—set up canned responses for your most frequent types of email. Best thing I ever did!
I can’t wait to try this recipe.
I was raised by a woman who proudly calls herself a do-er. Always on the go. Doing, doing, doing. Can’t sit still for long without jumping up to go do something else. Always on the run.
I don’t have that personality. I have spent long periods of my life feeling defeated that I don’t have the same drive to do, that I need down time (for my mental and physical health), believing I was lazy. I saw it as a weakness.
And then a friend said to me, after asking what I did over the weekend (and I said guiltily that I just lazed around), “Why do you call it that? Weren’t you just relaxing after working hard all week?”
And it was like a revelation. It’s not a competition. Some of us thrive by doing. That’s great. But some of us need to de-stress and decompress and relax. And suddenly I am now far more able to embrace that. And I am much happier.
Funny how sometimes those things just click.
My Mom is the same way! She’s a total Super Woman, and she’s incredible, but it’s taken me quite a while to “deprogram” myself from believing that because I’m not like her (and I’m soooo not!) I’m a failure. She thrives with being busy, neat, and organized, I do not. And that’s okay!
I’m so glad it clicked for you! :)
That looks so good, I never tried orzo with lemon !!
nice idea I will give it try :)
This meal looks amazing. My AH-HA moment came when my husband came home from work to find me crying, with my then 4 month old daughter at the breast nursing, while I tried to respond to work e-mails and clean the house.
The next week we hired a bi-monthly housekeeper, I told my boss that unless it was an emergency, I don’t respond to work emails after 6 p.m., and we changed our meal planning approach much like you.
And I’ve been known to mix in a few cereal for dinner nights as well.
Having a little tiny nugget that depends on you for EVERYTHING is a wake up call in so many ways, isn’t it?
I dream of hiring a housekeeper (we’ve had one come in on occasion), but I’ve been having a hard time letting go of that privacy aspect. It still feels like an invasion. I guess we just haven’t found the right person yet!
This is my kind of meal, it looks delicious. Prawns and pasta are two of my favourite things, so I can’t wait to give this ago! ?
Hi, by chance do you have the nutrition information for this dish?
Hi, Kathy! I don’t have nutritional info, but you can calculate it easily (copy and paste) using this online calculator: caloriecount.about.com/cc/recipe_analysis.php
We made this on Saturday night and it was a hit with the whole family (including my 3 year old and 10 month old). Plus we get the leftovers (which were plentiful) for dinner tonight! Thanks Cassie!
Woohooo! I’m so glad you guys loved it. :)
This looks great! One-pot meals always get my vote. Putting this recipe on my meal plan for the week, thanks!
Great “ONE POT LEMON ORZO WITH SHRIMP” i think it is so imperative to check in with ourselves… and about being occupied, my beau and i have had contentions about who is occupied and who works the hardest on the grounds that, similar to you both said, we need to gloat about tight calendars, endless due dates, and be hopeless. on the blogging end, there is such a great amount of going around, i cannot go up against it the weekend so i barely ever open my portable workstation and it feels marvelous!!!
presently email administration, its an entire diverse world there. im flinching as i write this. i am just for one pot dinner,,and including beans sounds peculiar however a decent strange combo! i have not seen entire wheat orzo, will keep my eyes out.
Oh, my wife hated this! It was so lemony it was hard to taste anything else. Juice and zest of 2 lemons? Luckily I found the same recipe with only 1 lemon.
Very good. I amended a bit an added chili pepper flakes with the garlic and only one lemon. It was delicious.
Thank you so much for this recipe a different
This looks amazing! I went out and got all the ingredients, but then realized I don’t have a pan that can go in the oven. Is there any way to do it without that? Thanks so much!!
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