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8 Tips That Make Meal Planning Easy for Busy People

8 Tips That Make Meal Planning Easy for Busy People

When it comes to cooking there’s a very good chance that a lot of us don’t have the time to prepare exquisite meals on a daily basis. But that doesn’t mean you have to settle for fast food or frozen pizzas throughout the week. With a few changes to your routine and a bit of planning you can be eating healthy, home-cooked meals every day of the week.

1. Buy a Rotisserie Chicken on Sunday

One of the cheapest and simplest protein for any meal is, of course, chicken. And on Sundays a large majority of grocery stores will put their rotisserie chickens on sale. If you’re able to grab one of these, then you’re already on your way to a wide variety of meals that can be made within minutes. Shred and divide the chicken out into containers for each day of the week. Hot or cold, on salad or tacos, shredded chicken can be used in many ways. It’s a healthy protein and the best part is you don’t have to cook it.

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2. Utilize the Slow Cooker

When you’re planning your meals for the week always plan to use the slow cooker once or twice. With the slow cooker, there is rarely any cleanup (virtually none if you use a liner) and you can just turn it on and go about your busy life. When planning for using the slow cooker be sure to take advantage of online resources that have a ton of recipes. Reddit’s /r/slowcooking is probably one of the best communities for meal planning.

3. Plan for Leftovers

If it’s a recipe that you like and don’t mind cooking then double the recipe. Now you can eat it for dinner and lunch the next day. A lot of people don’t plan for leftovers but if you know your appetite then you can knock out two meals at once. You can learn more about doubling your meals and planning for leftovers here.

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4. Bang Out the Prep Work

You might be tired when you return from the grocery store, but don’t just throw everything into the fridge. Get out the cutting board and slice and dice all your vegetables and put them into containers for storage. This will save you a ton of time in the future when you’re ready to use them for ingredients. It’s better to just knock out this task than to make it a daily chore.

5. Don’t Shop on an Empty Stomach

Make a plan, have a list, and stick to it when you’re visiting the grocery store. The easiest way to waste time wandering the aisles is to go shopping on an empty stomach. You will easily convince yourself to purchase things you don’t need both wasting your money and time.

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6. Prepare for Disasters

Now that it’s winter you might also be too busy to think ahead and start planning for meals that will be needed during storms. Most of the time if you hit the grocery store the day before a winter storm is about to hit it’s already too late. You can avoid this by stocking up on meals that won’t require the oven to make. You can also learn how to keep your food from spoiling if there is a power outage by keeping your fridge cold here.

7. Keep a Clean Fridge

To make your meal planning easier, always keep a clean fridge. This means go through once a week and discard any expired products or leftovers. When you’re making your list you will have a clear display of what you need for the upcoming week.

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8. Keep a Well-stocked Spice Cabinet

Most of the time when you’re planning for quick meals you do not have the time necessary to develop complicated flavor profiles in your food. Having a well stocked spice cabinet will allow you to create variety for your quick meals. It needs to be more than just salt and pepper, be sure to be stocked in herbs and spices as well. Having a variety of spices will make eating chicken enjoyable any day of the week.

Featured photo credit: Jaro Larnos via flickr.com

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Colby Almond

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Last Updated on December 2, 2018

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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Review Your Past Flow

Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

    Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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