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8 Tips That Make Meal Planning Easy for Busy People

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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 November 22, 2021

Thanksgiving: It’s About The Simple Things

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Thanksgiving: It’s About The Simple Things

Thanksgiving, a day of pure gluttony, football, and possible uncomfortable situations with family members that you may or may not like. Oh, yeah, and the whole “know and reflect on what it is to be thankful and grateful.”

During the holiday season many people forget what this time of year is bout and are too worried about getting the “early-bird” deals on Black Friday and making sure that they have the perfect gifts for their loved ones. I am sort of a “Grinch” when it comes to the holiday season, mostly because of that mentality by many of the poeple around me.

But instead of being grinch-like this holiday season, I decided to simplify things and get back to what this time of year is actually is about; being thankful for what I have and what I can give.

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Simplify

I’m not a “minimalist” in any real sense, but in the last few months the talks of Patrick Rhone and others have got me to rethink my stance. Can you really have too much stuff?

Absolutely.

And with all that stuff comes the burden and the weight of it on your back.

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If you feel that the things around you are out of control, maybe it’s time to simplify and be thankful and grateful for what you have and use. Here are a few things that you can do to simplify:

  • You know those gadgets in the drawer that you said you were going to sell? Well, time to get the listing on eBay and sell them. Or, send them to a place like Gazelle. Even if they are old and won’t get money, you can at least recycle them.
  • Get rid of things you don’t need. Like old books, clothes, tools, etc. Have something that’s been laying around forever with no use? Donate it to a charity or church. If you aren’t using it, someone else could be.
  • Find your productivity tools and stick with them. Use tools and gadgets that serve multiple purposes so you can simplify your tool set.

Be Mindful

You don’t have to be a master Buddhist or meditator to be mindful (although, it can definitely help). Being mindful comes down to being cognizant of the present and not keeping yourself in the past or future. It’s about living in the moment and being aware of yourself and everything around you. It’s just being.

Without getting too “California” on you, it is super important to be mindful during the holiday rush. Rather than worrying about the things that you forgot at your house on the way to relatives or thinking about the next stop in your endless holiday travels, just breath and think about what you are currently doing.

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Spend the time with your family and friends and don’t crush the moment. Try not to concentrate so hard on getting the perfect photo of the “awesome moment” of the day and actually miss the awesome moment.

Being mindful over the holidays will help you be with your families, friends, and yourself allowing you to enjoy your time.

Reflect

As the year is coming to a close (yes, it really is that close!) it’s a great time to start reflecting on what you have accomplished and what you haven’t. Within the next few weeks we will have a more throrough reflection article here at Lifehack.org, but reflecting every now and then over your holiday break is a great way to see where you have been doing well in your life and where you need to improve.

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Reflection shouldn’t be used to “get down” on yourself. Reflection should be used to take an honset inventory of what you have accomplished, how you handeled situations, and what you can do better. If you journal everyday (a daily form of reflection) it may be a good time to start going over some of the things that you have written and start to put together a year’s end journal entry. I mean, how else will you write your autobiography?

But, seriously, reflecting on yourself makes you aware of your successes and faults and helps you plan and make goals for the coming year. It makes you a better person.

So, while you are stuffing your face with bird, stuffing, and mashed taters’, remember that the holidays are much more than the superficial things. Use this holiday to become a better person.

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Featured photo credit: Libby Penner via unsplash.com

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