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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 March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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