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Turn Your Weekend Barbecue Into 8 Cheap, Easy Meals for the Work Week

Turn Your Weekend Barbecue Into 8 Cheap, Easy Meals for the Work Week

Who doesn’t love firing up the barbecue and grilling out over the weekend? There’s nothing better than really taking your time to slow-cook cuts of meat so that you bring out the full flavor you want. You get great food, and you get to relax with your friends and family.Unfortunately, most of us have a little something that we like to call a “budget,” and a big, no-holds-barred cookout can wreak havoc with that if you’re not careful. Luckily, those last four words are the most important ones: “if you’re not careful.” With a bit of smart buying and planning ahead, it’s possible to not only stay within your food budget for the week, but even come out ahead.

Planning for the Weekend Barbecue

First, the key is to purchase big, inexpensive cuts of meat that are versatile and reheat well. Think about things like brisket and pork shoulder. On sale, you can find them for as little as $1.50 to $1.75 per pound, and they’re all delicious either in a smoker or on the grill.

Second, you need to find the right recipe to work a little bit of magic with them. We’ve made the process easier for you by locating these two great step-by-step guides:

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Brisket Recipe for Beef Brisket
BBQ Pulled Pork Recipe for Pork Shoulder

Planning Your 8 Weekday Meals

Now it’s easy to turn your lazy afternoon barbecue into eight different fast and delicious meals that will last you through the week. What kinds of meals are we talking about?

Tacos or nachos. Both brisket and BBQ pulled pork work great in tacos or on top of nachos. Even better, there’s probably a great chance that you already had things like chips, lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese for your barbeque, so this can be as simple as covering a plate in tortilla chips, adding the toppings you want, and heating. Mmmm.

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Shepherd’s pie. If you look up the definition of shepherd’s pie, all it says is “a dish of ground meat under a layer of mashed potato.” What that means for you is that you can add pretty much anything you want. Get some pre-made mashed potatoes and pie crusts and you’re ready to go. Just toss the pulled pork and whatever veggies or other ingredients you want into the crust, top it off with the mashed potatoes, and throw it in your oven for about an hour. Admittedly, the cooking time is a bit on the longer side, but this meal is completely hands off once it’s in the oven.

Pizzas. Doesn’t the idea of a BBQ pulled pork pizza just sound good? Well, you can do that, top with brisket instead, or go the “meat-lovers” route and add both. All you’ll need is pre-made crust with sauce from the store, and some shredded cheese to top it off. It should take maybe five minutes to prepare and another 15 minutes in the oven at whatever temperature is recommended on the crust package.

Fried rice. You’ve heard of chicken fried rice, but what about BBQ pulled pork rice? Or even brisket rice? Both work wonderfully with this dish—just make sure the brisket is diced up small enough. Pick up a package of frozen fried rice and frozen veggies from the store and simply heat your leftover meats separately or along with it. You’ll have barely any dishes and the meal will be ready in minutes.

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Salads. Want a lighter lunch or dinner? Leftover brisket and BBQ pulled pork allows you to make several different delicious salads with your choice of ingredients. The only real requirement is that you have lettuce, but many will probably want other veggies, dressing, and so on—it’s up to you! One nice bonus is that this will probably be a welcome healthier meal after a weekend of indulging with hearty, heavy meats.

Wraps. When we think of wraps, we tend to think of chicken, but there’s no rule saying that BBQ pulled pork and brisket are off limits. This is a nice way to get more use out of soft taco shells if you made those earlier in the week. Just add lettuce, tomatoes, and your condiments of choice, and you’re good to go for lunch or dinner.

Sliders. BBQ pulled pork works fantastically as a sandwich, so sliders are an obvious next step. And talk about easy: all you really need to do is buy the buns, heat it up, and start eating. Yum!

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Fully dressed baked potato. Our imaginations tend to start and stop at “bacon” when it comes to putting meat on baked potatoes, but brisket and especially BBQ pulled pork can really add some amazing flavor. You’ll probably still want the other trimmings, though, so don’t skimp on the cheddar or sour cream. For a faster baked potato, cook it in the microwave, then add your toppings.

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Last Updated on October 16, 2018

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

It’s well past midnight and you’ve got to get up in less than six hours. You toss and turn all night. Before you know it, another hour passes by and you start panicking.

If I don’t get to sleep in the next 30 minutes, I’m going to be exhausted tomorrow!”

One thing is for sure, you’re not alone. Over 70M+ Americans have stated that they don’t get the proper sleep they need at night.[1] So what could possibly be causing this insomnia epidemic?

Throughout my entrepreneurial journey of building my language learning company, I have experimented and researched dozens of best sleep practices. Some have flopped but a few have dramatically improved the quality of my life and work.

In this article, I’ll look into the reason why you’re sleep deprived and how to sleep through the night tonight.

Why you can’t sleep through the night

The first step to improving anything is getting to the bottom of the root problem. Different studies have shown the reasons why most people cannot sleep well at night.[2] Here are the main ones that the average person faces:

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Stress

If you’ve ever stayed up at night worrying about something, know that it’s a major sleep inhibitor. When you’re feeling stress, your mind and body becomes more activated, making it incredibly difficult to fall asleep. Even when you do manage to sleep, it won’t be deep enough to help you feel rested the next day.

Exposure to blue light before sleep time

We’re exposed to harmful blue light on a daily basis through the use of our digital screens. If you’ve never heard of blue light, it’s part of the visible light spectrum that suppresses melatonin, our sleep hormones. Other harmful effects include digital eye strains and macular cellular damage.

While daytime exposure to blue light is not very harmful, night time exposure tricks our brain into thinking it’s daytime. By keeping your brain alert and suppressing melatonin, your mind is unable to shut down and relax before bedtime.

Eating close to bedtime

Eating too late can actually be an issue for many people, especially those who are older than 40. The reason is, eating before laying down increases the chances of Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which stomach acid backflows into the esophagus.

Another reason not to eat too late is sleep quality. Even if you manage to sleep right after eating, it’s likely that you’ll wake up tired. Instead of letting your body rest during sleep, it has to digest the food that was entered before bedtime.

Rule of thumb: eat 3-4 hours before bedtime.

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Medical conditions

In some cases, it could be medical conditions that cause your sleep problems. If you can’t relate yourself to the above reasons or any of these common sleep problem causes, you should visit the doctor.

The vicious sleep cycle

The biggest danger to repeating the bad habits mentioned above is the negative cycle that it can take you through. A bad night’s sleep can affect not only your energy but your willpower and decision making skills.

Here’s an example of a bad sleep pattern:

You get a bad night’s sleep
–> You feel tired and stressful throughout the day.
–> You compensate it with unhealthy habits (for example junk food, skipping exercises, watching Netflix etc.)
–> You can’t sleep well (again) the next night.

    You can imagine what could happen if this cycle repeats over a longer period of time.

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    How to sleep better (throughout the night)

    To help you break the vicious cycle and stop waking up in the middle of the night, I’ll explain to you a list of actionable steps to solve your trouble staying asleep.

    1. Take control over the last 90 minutes of your night

    What you do (or don’t do) before bedtime have significant impact on the quality of your sleep. Many times, it can be the difference between staying up until 4am and sleeping like a baby.

    Here are a few suggestions:

    • Go from light to dark – Darkness stimulates production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Turn off unused light around the house, and think about investing into warm light that you can use in the bedroom before bedtime.
    • Avoid screens (or wear blue light blocking glasses) – Keep the bedroom a technology-free zone as the light from electronic devices can disturb your sleep. If you need to work, wear blue light blocking glasses (also known as computer glasses) throughout or before you sleep to prevent sleep disruption.
    • Find an activity that helps you to wind down  This could be anything that calms you down, and reduces thinking (especially unnecessary stress). Fir example, listening to soothing/good feel music, taking a hot bath, reading or meditating.
    • Keep any electronics you have on the other side of the room or outside the room – One of the most harmful things that can disrupt your sleep is the notifications you get from your smartphones. The simplest way to avoid this is to keep it away from you.
    • Create a bedtime routine – A night routine is a couple of things you do prior to going to bed. By doing these things every night, you’ll have a more restful and high-quality sleep. Learn how to pick up a night routine here: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide to Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

    2. Eat the right nutrients (and avoid the wrong ones)

    What you eat (not just when we eat) plays a critical role in your sleep quality. If you’re ever in doubt of what to eat to improve your sleep, take the following into consideration:

    • Kiwi – This green fruit may be the ultimate pre-bed snack. When volunteers ate two kiwis an hour before hitting the hay, they slept almost a full extra hour. Kiwis are full of vitamins C and E, serotonin and folate—all of which may help you snooze.
    • Soy foods – Foods made with soy such as tofu, miso and edamame, are rich in isoflavones. These compounds increase the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that influences the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
    • Fiber-rich foods – Eating more fiber could be key for better sleep. Eating fiber was associated with more restorative slow-wave sleep—the more you eat, the better you sleep—per a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Fiber prevents blood sugar surges that may lower melatonin. Get a fiber boost from beans, artichokes, bran cereal and quinoa.
    • Salmon – Most fish, especially salmon, halibut and tuna boost vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin— a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness.

    3. Adjust your sleep temperature

    Once you’ve gone through the first 2 recommendations, the last step to experiment with is temperature. According to Sleep.org, the ideal temperature for sleep is 60-67 Farenheit. This may be cooler than what most people are used to, but keep in mind that our body temperature changes once we fall asleep.

    Rule of thumb: sleeping in cooler temperature is better for sleep quality than warmer temperature.

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    Find out how to maintain the optimal temperature to sleep better here: How to Sleep Faster with the Best Temperature

    Sleep better form now on

    Congrats on making it to the end of this guide on sleep. If you’re serious about taking the necessary steps in improving your sleep, remember to take it one step at a time.

    I recommend trying just one of the steps mentioned such as taking a hot bath, blocking out blue light at night, or sleeping in cooler temperature. From there, see how it impacts your sleep quality and you can keep doing what works, and throw away what doesn’t.

    As long as you follow these steps cautiously and diligently, I know you’ll see improved results in your sleep!

    Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

    Reference

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