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Homecooked Meals for Working Parents

Homecooked Meals for Working Parents

    Working a 9 to 5 job and then adding in the time to commute, plus having kids means very little time for parents to do much of anything, especially in households where both parents work or in single parent homes. That means very few homecooked meals for many families during the work week, and instead a lot of processed foods, take-out, and fast food dining. As we all know, that’s not a very healthy diet, especially for growing children. So what’s a working parent to do? It is actually possible to make some homecooked meals for your family, even if you spend more time at work and on the road than you do at home.

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    Plan Ahead

    Before you head out for your weekly grocery store trip, think ahead for the next week of some meals you might like to have. I personally am not into meal planning very far in advance because it’s too rigid of a structure for my likings, but that does work out for a lot of people. If this sounds like something you might like, pull out a calendar or print one off your computer and start planning out what you want to make for meals each day. Then, add each ingredient you’ll need to your grocery list so you’ll remember to get everything when you’re at the store. If meal planning isn’t your thing, you can do like I do and plan for a variety of scenarios and buy foods that you could use to make one of several different meals. For example, chicken can be prepared in a multitude of ways. You can buy chicken breasts, as well as spaghetti, bread crumbs, marinara sauce for a chicken parmigiana meal. You could also buy some chicken broth, carrots, and celery in case you decide you might want to make chicken and dumplings instead of the chicken parmigiana.

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    The benefit to planning ahead and making a grocery list is that when you get to the store, you’ll remember to get everything you need and are less likely to forget something. You’ll also avoid some impulse purchases if you have a plan of action and an idea of what you’d like to eat the following week.

    Gather Up Some Quick Recipes

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    Pull up your favorite search engine (mine is Google) and type in “quick dinner recipes”. You’ll get a lot of results and a lot of different sites with many of the same recipes. Choose which ever site looks interesting to you, and start looking. If you find recipes that you like, bookmark them and/or print them out. 10 or so different recipes is usually enough variety for your standard “feed the family” meals. This is a part of the “Planning Ahead” process, and you can reference these prior to heading out to the grocery store. Look for ones that take 20 minutes or less to prepare, and an hour or less to cook.

    Invest in a Crock Pot

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    Crock pot cooking is popular among working parents. All you have to do is throw your ingreidents in the crock pot, set the heating setting to low for 6 to 8 hours (depending on the recipe), and when you get home, you’ll have a hot, fresh homecooked meal just waiting to be dished out. You’ll want to look for special crock pot recipes, or pick up a crock pot cookbook. Many of your favorite dishes can be altered to slow cooking in a crock pot. The plus side of crock pot cooking is that when you get home, it’s all done and you don’t have to spend an hour making dinner.

    When You Don’t Feel Like Cooking

    There are days you’ll come home, too tired to cook or not wanting to make the effort. Many times, this is when people get pizza or Chinese delivered. But if that happens all too often, you’ll want to have a few no or little effort meal ideas on hand. Some of my favorite go-to meals for the days I just don’t feel like cooking include:

    • Spaghetti with sauce & rolls or breadsticks. Parents like it, and kids love it too. In 10 to 15 minutes, and you’ve got a meal.
    • Grilled cheese & tomato soup. The kids might be okay with just the grilled cheese sandwich, and parents who need a little something more will appreciate the bowl of soup. I recommend two kinds of cheese for an extra tasty sandwich (muenster and cheddar is my favorite combo). Pan fry the sandwiches in butter while you warm the soup in a pot. In less than 10 minutes, you’ve got a meal.
    • Breakfast for dinner. Kids will often find it fun to have breakfast for dinner, and its an easy meal for you to make. Ideas include French Toast, waffles, pancakes, toast, eggs, sausage, and bacon.

    It’s possible to make homecooked meals for your family as a working parent; it just takes a little forethought and planning. Readers – what are some of your favorite, fast and easy meals to make?

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    Julie McCormick

    Julie McCormick is a writer, and co-owner of The Cleveland Leader, a Technorati Top 1000 site.

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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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