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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 January 21, 2020

    The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

    The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

    Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

    your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

      Why You Need a Vision

      Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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      How to Create Your Life Vision

      Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

      What Do You Want?

      The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

      It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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      Some tips to guide you:

      • Remember to ask why you want certain things
      • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
      • Give yourself permission to dream.
      • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
      • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

      Some questions to start your exploration:

      • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
      • What would you like to have more of in your life?
      • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
      • What are your secret passions and dreams?
      • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
      • What do you want your relationships to be like?
      • What qualities would you like to develop?
      • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
      • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
      • What would you most like to accomplish?
      • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

      It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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      What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

      Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

      A few prompts to get you started:

      • What will you have accomplished already?
      • How will you feel about yourself?
      • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
      • What does your ideal day look like?
      • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
      • What would you be doing?
      • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
      • How are you dressed?
      • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
      • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
      • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

      It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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      Plan Backwards

      It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

      • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
      • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
      • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
      • What important actions would you have had to take?
      • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
      • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
      • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
      • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
      • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

      Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

      It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

      Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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