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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 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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