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You Won’t Believe How Easy Meal Prep Could Be! And how Much Money It Can Help You Save!

You Won’t Believe How Easy Meal Prep Could Be! And how Much Money It Can Help You Save!

Dealing with getting lunch at work can be a real downer. If you don’t plan ahead, you’ll be stuck with the often unhealthy and unnaturally large portions available at fast food joints and other restaurants.

If you’re trying to eat healthy, you’ll find limited options, and expensive ones at that.Leave your days of $12 salads behind by doing meal prep in advance so you can bring your own healthy — and delicious — lunch to work every day.

How to Meal Prep Like a Pro

The key to getting started with meal prepping is to not try to do too much too fast. If you’re accustomed to never packing a lunch, start with prepping a couple of days a week. Once it becomes a habit you can work on packing lunches every day.

Think about what kinds of foods you like to eat that can be eaten cold or easily reheated. Because we’re talking healthy lunches, think about salads, soups, grain dishes, beans, sandwiches and wraps. We’ve got 10 great recipes to get you started below, but you’ll definitely do better sticking to your healthy lunch plan if you’re making things you like.

Another great idea is to choose items that will freeze well. Many soups, grains and beans do well in the freezer, so you can make a big batch and freeze it in lunch-sized portions to be pulled out in future weeks. Score!

Check your kitchen for supplies you can repurpose to help with your meal prep. You’ll need small plastic or glass food storage containers (Mason jars are excellent for this purpose). You may also want a bento box or divided lunch box if your meal will consist of multiple items. They’re also adorable.

Prepping once for the whole week of healthy lunches is a great habit to get into, and a great way to spend your Sunday afternoon or evening. But be aware of food safety and don’t keep foods for too long after you prepare them.

How long can you keep your food?

Salads will be best in the day or two after you make them. Meat can hold in the fridge for three or four days. Vegetarian items can go longer, and things that have been kept in the freezer are good for at least six months in cold storage and for a few days after thawing.

Here are some great starter recipes to get you excited about meal prep and healthy eating.

Mason Jar Salads

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    Maybe the classic meal prep lunch is the Mason jar salad. There’s a good reason for that: they are cute, easy to make and you can make a great variety of salads, both with greens and with pasta, by following this same basic structure.

    Organize Yourself Skinny has the lowdown on what makes a Mason jar salad work — basically, you put the dressing on the bottom, then some hard-vegetable barrier between the dressing and the greens or pasta — and links to more than a dozen ideas you can make yourself.

    Her Greek Mason jar salad, pictured above, calls for chicken but you could also sub chickpeas to make it vegetarian and to save money, though either way these salads are only a couple of bucks a serving.

    Homemade Instant Noodles

      Ramen is a meal you might have left behind in your poor college student days (or not), but you can give that classic broke food a serious and healthy upgrade with the tips from Serious Eats.

      This homemade instant noodle recipe is a perfect make-ahead for lunch. Start with partially cooked noodles and fresh vegetables. Add seasonings (and some fresh veg like chopped green onions on the side).

      When you’re ready to eat, all you need is some boiling water to make your coworkers jealous. The most expensive item in this recipe is probably the shitake mushrooms, but you’re still looking at pretty cheap eats. Keep scrolling down that page for other variations, too.

      Buddha Bowls

        A classic of vegan fare — I won’t tell if you add some meat — Buddha bowls are a great meal prep basic to have in your arsenal because they can be made a million different ways.

        Usually these bowls include some kind of grain or blend of grains, vegetables and often beans or tofu. The Southwestern Buddha Bowl from Simply Sissom adds chicken, but you don’t have to.

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        This recipe is a good one because she gives tips for making it ahead and freezing the components to make prepping it faster the next time.

        Once you’ve made a recipe like this a few times, you’ll start making your own grain bowls by throwing together whatever sounds good, what produce is on sale this week or what you have extra of in the fridge. It’s the ultimate use-everything meal.

        Chicken Salad

          If you’ve roasted a chicken or bought a rotisserie chicken for another meal, using the leftovers for chicken salad is a perfect way to get a make-ahead lunch on the cheap.

          This is one you should plan to eat within a couple of days of making it, and, of course, keep in the refrigerator or otherwise chilled at work before you eat it.

          You may already have a go-to chicken salad recipe, but if not this one from Add a Pinch is great because it is healthier than a lot of recipes out there. She uses yogurt along with the mayo to lighten it up, and adds grapes, pecans and cherries for crunch, flavor and nutrition.

          Lentil Soup

            There are so many cheap and easy soup recipes out there, and once you are comfortable with the basics of making soup, you can easily make a vegetable soup with just about any extra vegetables you have on hand. You can even use frozen vegetables if you don’t have anything fresh.

            Lentil soup, like this one from Alexandra Cooks, is a great place to start. Lentils are inexpensive and healthy but filling, and they taste great with just carrot, celery and onion and some spices. You can also freeze lentil soup and keep eating from the same pot for a while. Add her homemade bread to make this meal extra special.

            Check out the 20 cheap and easy soup recipes from Wise Bread for more great make ahead soup ideas.

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            Honey Sesame Chicken Rice Bowls

              Another meal idea with a lot of potential for variation is the Honey Sesame Chicken Rice Bowl from Sweet Peas and Saffron.

              Make it as is with chicken, rice, asparagus and broccoli, or change up the vegetables, grains and protein with whatever you have in the house. This is another great one for using leftovers, or cobbling together from pre-cooked meat and grains that are in the freezer.

              Thai Peanut Wraps

                Wraps are another great option for meal prep; just make the filing in advance and wrap it up the day you’re going to eat it.

                These Thai Peanut Wraps are colorful, healthy and full of flavor, and give you a good starting point for entry into the world of wraps. As the recipe from Spiced is written, they’re vegetarian, but you could throw in leftover chicken as well.

                Lots of these meal options would also work as wraps, such as the Buddha bowls and chicken salad.

                Orzo with Butternut Squash

                  Pasta salads are an easy make-ahead meal that can be eaten alone or as a side dish, and it’s easy to make a lot so you’ll probably do both.

                  The Kitchn’s Orzo with Butternut Squash is a great fall-in-a-bowl dish, and you just have to reheat it a little for lunch to be ready.

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                  And any time you make any kind of pasta, planned leftovers are great to eat for lunch the next day.

                  Chickpea Shawarma Stuffed Pita

                    Anything with beans is great for meal prep because you can buy dried beans inexpensively, cook a big batch, divide into can-sized portions and freeze. Pull out what you need for the week and you can use your beans in a bunch of different ways.

                    Naturally Ella has a great recipe for Chickpea Shawarma, which can be made ahead and served with hummus and pita bread as a sandwich or salad. You can also make your own hummus to make the meal even less expensive.

                    White Chicken Chili

                      Your favorite chili recipe is a great meal prep option, and it no doubt will freeze well, making future lunches that much easier.

                      If you don’t already have a go-to white chicken chili recipe — which is a healthier option than many other meaty versions — check out this one from Serious Eats. It calls for soaking the beans overnight and cooking them yourself, which is an economical option that also makes them tastier. Roasted veggies add to the depth of flavor.

                      Featured photo credit: Robin Zebrowski via flickr.com

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                      Sarah White

                      Freelance Writer, Editor, Professional Crafter

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                      Last Updated on October 23, 2019

                      50 Habits of Highly Successful People You Should Learn

                      50 Habits of Highly Successful People You Should Learn

                      If you’re like me and really into self-development, you’ve probably read many of the thousands of self-help books out there on the market. But also like me, you probably find all the information a bit overwhelming.

                      That’s why I wanted to do the self-less task of taking the most important, life-changing lessons I’ve drawn from these books and condensed them into fifty key points.

                      Here’re 50 habits of highly successful people you should learn:

                      1. Believe It to See It

                      Our minds tend to focus on what’s happening around us and refuse to see what could happen. Only when you trust in what’s possible and dare to dream big, big things can happen for you.

                      2. See Problems as a Wonderful Gift

                      While others only see problems and give up, successful people use the problem as a lesson to find improvement in themselves or the task at hand.

                      3. Keep Looking for Solutions

                      Even if they’re knee-deep in problems, successful people will still put all of their focus on finding solutions.

                      4. Remember It’s All About the Journey

                      Successful people are conscious and methodical in creating their own success. They don’t sit around doing the bare minimum, hoping success finds them.

                      5. Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway

                      There’s so much fear on the road to success, but instead of letting that fear control and limit them, successful people do a good job of just forging ahead regardless.

                      6. Always Ask Productive Questions

                      It’s all about asking the right questions. Successful people make sure they are questions that will elicit information for a more productive, creative and positive mindset moving forward.

                      7. Understand the Best Waste of Energy Is Complaining

                      Successful people know that choosing to see the negative side of things will only create a useless and unproductive state.

                      8. Don’t Play the Blame Game

                      Taking responsibility for actions and outcomes is a form of empowerment that you can build your success upon. While the act of blaming others or outside circumstances takes this empowerment away from you.

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                      9. Maximize Your Strengths

                      Not every successful person is simply more talented than the rest, but they do use what they know they’re good at to achieve more successful results.

                      10. Be in It to Win It

                      Successful people are busy, productive and proactive. Instead of sitting around over-thinking and over-planning a great idea, they just take a step towards it no matter how small.

                      11. Know That Success Attracts Success

                      People who are successful surround themselves and seek out like-minded people. They understand the importance of being part of a team and forge win-win relationships.

                      12. Actually Choose to Be Successful

                      Dreaming big is a massive part of being successful even if your dream seems impossible. Ambition is a mindset that needs to be a daily conscious choice.

                      13. Visualize, Visualize, Visualize!

                      You’ve got to see your success in your mind’s eye even before it comes. Successful people clarify and get that certainty about what they want their reality to look like rather than being mere spectators of life.

                      14. Be a One-Off Original

                      Successful people look for what’s working and then create a unique spin on it. Imitating only regurgitates other people’s ideas with no originality.

                      15. The Perfect Time to Act Is Now

                      Waiting for the right time to act is basically procrastination wrapped up in an excuse. Successful people know there’s never a perfect time so they may as well just do it now.

                      16. Keep Learning, Keep Growing

                      Continuous learning is the key to a successful life. Whether it’s academic, being a student of life or actionable learning, it’s all about expanding your knowledge and personal development.

                      17. Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

                      Successful people have the knack for finding positive aspects in all people and circumstances no matter what.

                      18. Having a Bad Day? Do It Anyway!

                      We all have bad moods but it shouldn’t be an excuse to stop everything. Giving into a bad mood just stop-starts your life, slowing success way down.

                      19. Sometimes Risky Business Is Needed

                      Calculated risks are a must for success. It’s about weighing the pros and cons while moving forward with that element of trust.

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                      20. Accept Challenge All the Time

                      Dealing with problems head-on is a must to be successful. Successful people also face challenges in order to improve themselves.

                      21. Make Your Own Luck

                      In the mindset of a successful person, there’s no such thing as ‘luck’ or ‘fate’. They take control to actively and consciously create their own best life.

                      22. Ignite Your Initiative

                      While many people are reactive, successful people are proactive – taking action before they have to.

                      23. Be the Master of Your Emotions

                      Being effective at managing emotions is key on the road to success. That’s not to say successful people don’t feel like we all do, but they’re just not slaves to their emotions.

                      24. Champion in Communication

                      Consciously working on effective communication skills gets anyone closer to success.

                      25. Plan Your Life Strategically

                      Successful people’s lives aren’t a clumsy series of unplanned events and outcomes, they methodically work at turning their plans into a reality.

                      26. Become Exceptional at What You Do

                      To become exceptional, you typically have to do things that most won’t. To become successful, hard decisions need to be made and acting on them is crucial.

                      27. Choose to Live Outside of Your Comfort Zone

                      While many people are pleasure junkies and avoid pain and discomfort at all costs, successful people understand the value and benefits of working through the tough stuff that most would avoid.

                      28. Live by Core Values

                      Successful people firstly identify their core values and what’s important to them, then do their best to live a life that reflects these values.

                      29. Realize Money Isn’t Everything

                      Money and success are not interchangeable and the most successful people understand this. Putting money on a pedestal and equating it to success is a dangerous mindset to have. Success comes in many forms.

                      30. Don’t Get Carried Away

                      Successful people understand the importance of discipline and self-control and as a result they are happy to take the road less travelled.

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                      31. Self-Worth Is Not Tied to Success

                      Successful people are secure. They do not derive their self-worth from what they own, who they know, where they live or what they look like.

                      32. Kindness Breeds Kindness (And Success)

                      Generosity and kindness is a common trait among long-term successful people. It’s important to take pleasure in helping others achieve.

                      33. More Humility, Less Arrogance

                      Successful people are humble and happy to admit and apologize for mistakes. This is because they’re confident in their ability. They are happy to learn from others and happy to make others look good rather than seek their own personal glory.

                      34. Change Opens New Doors

                      People who are successful are adaptable and embrace change, while the majority are creatures of comfort and habit. They are comfortable with, and embrace, the new and the unfamiliar.

                      35. Success Requires a Healthy Body

                      It’s not just how you think, it’s about how you show up for success. Successful people understand the importance of being physically well, not for vain reasons but because being in tiptop condition creates a better personal life for success.

                      36. Laziness Just Doesn’t Exist

                      Successful people are never considered lazy. Yes, they can relax when they need to, but working hard is their game.

                      37. Resilience by the Bucket Load

                      When difficulty strikes, most would throw in the towel, but successful people are just warming up.

                      38. Feedback Is Just Another Chance to Improve

                      How people react to feedback determines their potential for success. Being open to constructive criticism and acting on it to improve is most seen in those who are successful.

                      39. Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe

                      If people are hanging out with toxic and negative people, then they need to take a look at themselves. Successful people hang out with others who are positive and supportive.

                      40. Can’t Control It? Forget It

                      Successful people don’t invest time or emotional energy into things which they have no control of.

                      41. Swim Against the Tide

                      Successful people are not people-pleasers and they don’t need constant approval from others in order to move ahead.

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                      42. Alone Time Is Valuable Time

                      More self-worth means being more comfortable with your own company. Successful people are more happy and see the value in spending time alone.

                      43. Self-Standard Is Higher Than Most

                      Everyone has a choice to set high standards for themselves. Successful people do this, which in turn produces greater commitment, more momentum, a better work ethic and of course, better results.

                      44. Failure Isn’t Rationalized

                      While many use age, health, lack of time, ‘bad luck’, or lack of opportunity to explain away their failure, the key to success is finding a way to succeed despite facing these challenges.

                      45. Down Time Is an Important Part of a Routine

                      Having an off switch and taking time to do things that make them happy is a common trait of a successful person. Take a look at here The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

                      46. Career Isn’t Who You Are, It’s What You Do

                      Successful people know their career isn’t their identity. They are multi-dimensional and don’t define themselves by their job.

                      47. Be Interested in Only the Path of Resistance

                      While most people look for the easiest way or the shortcut, successful people are more interested in the most effective way. They look for the course of action which will produce the best results over the long term.

                      48. Follow Through

                      Many spend their life starting things that they never finish, but successful people get the job done. Even when the excitement and the novelty has worn off they still follow through and finish.

                      49. Invest in All Your Dimensions

                      We’re not just physical and psychological beings, but emotional and spiritual creatures as well. Successful people consciously work at being healthy and productive on all levels.

                      50. Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

                      To obtain success, it’s important to practice what you preach. Successful people don’t talk about the theory, they live the reality.

                      So there you have it, a summary of what I’ve learned from self-help books. But of course, you need to start taking actions so you will get closer to success too.

                      More About Success

                      Featured photo credit: Juan Jose via unsplash.com

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