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3 Steps To Easy Meal Planning For Busy People (With A Quick Recipe!)

3 Steps To Easy Meal Planning For Busy People (With A Quick Recipe!)

When you’re ready for a meal, there’s a lot of “other stuff” in the way – like hunger, temptation, and being tired, which leads you to eat fast and unhealthy.

If you set up your week before you’re in the moment, it doesn’t matter if you’re tired or hungry – you will still make a good decision because the easiest option is already prepared and ready.

Meal planning can sound like it takes a lot of time and maintenance. Some meal planning strategies have so many steps that you could spend hours just planning your meal planning! And most likely, you’ll just never do it.

Here’s an easy 3-step guide to meal planning that you’ll actually be able to do!

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1. Make two sides during the weekend

Make easy sides like bean, lentil, healthy carb or vegetable dishes. They can be refrigerated for most of the week. You can pull them out every evening for dinner and pack for lunch the next day.

Choosing sides with flavors and spices (does not have to be spicy) will make you want to eat it. Spices and flavors really work themselves into the dish more over time, so they taste even better each day! A spice blend that works for almost anything is 1 teaspoon each of cumin, turmeric, sea salt and black pepper.

I share a recipe below for an easy side that is quick to make and you can easily take on the go below, my “No-Cook 3-bean Salad.”

2. Store food in glass containers

Glass helps food keep its freshness for longer (I tested this myself) and they’re safer for your food. Each side can be stored for at least 4 days in a glass container.

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Buy different sizes to store at home and take to work. You can also buy plastic containers to transport to work because they’re lighter. However, plastic containers do not keep food as long and are not safe for longer-term storage due to the material of the plastic. It’s better to use plastic just to take to work and discard after a few uses.

Here are my favorite glass containers: Kinetic Go Green Glasslock Series (I have the 64, 37 and 17 oz. sizes for my family of four).

3. During the week make an easy protein

Preferably use white meat or eggs, such as grilled chicken, fish, or an omelet. You can also have a whey protein shake or tofu, which are both great sources of vegetarian protein.

Pair this protein with the sides you already prepared, and it will be delicious and easy! Make extra so you can take it to work the next day. To further save time during the week, you could also marinate and/or prepare your protein portion on the weekends.

Imagine if you came home from work to Cumin Coriander Fish and No-Cook 3- Bean Salad already prepared! How much easier would it be for you to lose weight or just eat better? Do you see how you would be setting yourself up for more energy + weight-loss?

Your mouth will be watering at lunch time and you won’t even be tempted to go get a sloppy burrito from that taco truck around the corner.

If there’s one thing you can do to get the most bang to buck ratio – it’s to think ahead for the week. Check out my easy side dish below which you can make ahead of time – it’s packed with protein, healthy carbs and it’s super fast to make! Plus, it’s easy to transport to work and when you’re on the go.

No-Cook 3-Bean Salad

Prep Time 15 Minutes

Makes 4 – 6 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed
  • 1 can kidney beans, rinsed
  • 1 can cannellini beans, rinsed
  • 1 whole tomato, coarsely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • ½ red onion, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon red chili powder (optional, only if you prefer heat)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves

Dressing

  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper, or to taste

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, mix together all ingredients except spinach and dressing ingredients.
  2. Add dressing ingredients to a separate small bowl and whisk together.
  3. Pour over beans and mix. Add baby spinach and enjoy!

Check out my website for my free “Weight-loss Recipes Handbook for Ambitious Women” which includes the Cumin Coriander Fish recipe that goes so well with this 3-Bean Salad!

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Last Updated on September 28, 2020

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.

Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.

One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.

When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.

So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.

Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day

This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.

Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.

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When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.

Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity

One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.

Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.

An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.[1]

When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.

Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day

Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.

We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.

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By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.

Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment

While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.

I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.

You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.

Con #1: We Move a Lot Less

When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.

Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.

Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.

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Con #2: Less Human Interaction

One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.

Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.

Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.

This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.

While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.

Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment

Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.

This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.

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For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.

Con #4: Unique Distractions

Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.

For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.

To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.

Final Thoughts

Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.

We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.

More About Working From Home

Featured photo credit: Standsome Worklifestyle via unsplash.com

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