Reader Question Answered: How Do I Manage To Cook Every Night? Meal Prepping-It’s A Time Saver

Over Christmas break I had a few requests from some readers for some specific blog topics. Meal prepping and daily exercise were the two most asked about. Today I am touching on meal prep since, for me, it’s takes very little thought and is priceless.

Many of you are parents and are very busy but still want to prepare healthy meals for your family. I too am a parent but my son is much older now, although, I am a childcare provider and care for very small children 10+ hours per day 5 days a week which is exhausting some days. IMG_8059

However, I still manage to prepare meals nightly for my family which I share with you weekly (like here, and here)  to inspire you all to get in the kitchen and cook. Today I am touching on meal prepping and why it is such a time saver for me.

First, let me give you a bit of insight into my life. Monday- Friday I religiously work on routine….a tight routine. Wake up at 4a.m., pack two lunches and make two breakfasts, eat breakfast with my husband, and leave the house to workout by 4:50a.m. every single morning. Trust me this takes planning. I then return home by 6:15a.m., shower, and begin to prepare for my daycare children to arrive from 6:30a.m. on for breakfast and the day. We have a normal day, they all get picked up at 4:30 or there about and I immediately go into dinner mode and begin preparing dinner for my family. Dinner is served at 5:30 when our son arrives home from work and dinner is then cleaned up and either I do yoga or go back to the gym for a second time with my husband depending on what day it is. We then return home at 7:30p.m, I shower again, and I am usually in bed by 8/8:15p.m.. Yes, routine for me is crucial!!!

OK, with that being said, this is why meal prepping can pay off for everyone. Spending an hour…maybe a bit more can allow you to pre chop any veggies for weekly meals.

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It can allow you to prepare healthier lunches for yourself, children or spouse instead of some processed wrapper covered convenience food, and can allow you a bit of breathing time if your day is thrown into a tailspin and you have to readjust on the fly.

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Now, don’t think that even with this tight routine things still dont go wrong because they do. And sometimes they do often. Especially being a parent…if kids are involved things can go wrong very quickly. However, having options like pre cut veggies and easy to grab healthy options that are ready to go makes it much easier to pick up the pieces of a failed plan and not call the takeout restaurant for delivery. Dinners for us during the week are far from gourmet…but they are healthy and fresh.

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And believe me, having a major food allergy in our home as of the last few months makes calling for takeout almost impossible, so I do know how hard it is to think fast and come up with something instead of takeout.

The easiest way for me to meal prep is to plan a weekly menu and stick to it. Do this on the weekend, then grocery shop, then prep anything you can on Sunday before the beginning of the week. For me, Sunday works best, first thing in the morning so nothing else becomes more important. I usually will also make some go to foods for me for during the week also. Boiled eggs are a favorite….you can grab and go, smash them in seconds and make egg salad or stuff them with hummus and avocado with a drizzle of balsamic glaze and have a healthy fast lunch. I am never without hard boiled eggs in the frig. IMG_0170

Also if you have a sweet tooth make sure you plan for this. Having something sweet but healthy in sight is always better than grabbing that bag of candy and forgetting to stop eating them until you find the bag is empty. I keep a well stocked fruit bowl in sight at all times.

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I also was amazed when our son started his new job a few months ago to hear him ask me how he could make a healthier lunch but not buy expensive processed lunch meat. I suggested cooking up some chicken and making sandwiches or wraps with this instead. So he has been taking my idea and making this ever since starting his job. It easy, filling, and does not need heating up since he does not have this option like his dad does who takes leftovers every day. Plus, he can easily change it up with different meats or add ins.

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Another great help when it comes to spicing life up a bit in the kitchen or adding flavor to dishes is to utilize your freezer. I will blend sundried tomatoes in olive oil and freeze in small containers. When you are ready to use in a dish simply take it out and toss it in. It unthaws in seconds and adds so much flavor.

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You can also do this with chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Simply toss the entire can into a food processor and blend until smooth. Spoon tablespoons onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and toss it in the freezer. Wait until its frozen (2 hrs or so) and easily remove them and put them into baggies, containers or wrap each in plastic wrap. Place them back in the freezer and take one out when you need to add a bit of spice and get a deep smokey flavor in any dish. We love this in chili at our house.

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For upcoming weekly meals posts I will also include what I prep for the upcoming week according to the menu I have in place. Some things will be for meals and some things will be for work lunches. Maybe this will help and maybe it will not. Although, I do believe if you all give it a try and a bit of dedication you can really make your life a bit easier and find that making a meal after a long day is not always as hard as it seems. It’s kinda like going to the gym…..getting there is often times the hardest part. Just like starting meal preparation after a long day…once you start you might as well finish.

 

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How We Made Curtains For Our SUV For Camping Privacy

Recently, I was left home alone…with plenty of time on my hands…..and so much to think about. This is never good since I can come up with some crazy ideas sometimes. Although, I don’t think this one was all that crazy.

I decided I wanted to make curtains for my SUV since we loved sleeping in it for camping this past spring. So as always I did some research, went in the garage and sat inside my vehicle and thought….and thought hard. Then I made a few notes leaving them out where I knew my husband would see them when he returned home from his fishing trip and I would be sound asleep. I do this so my crazy ideas don’t come as a complete shock to him when I approach the subject….haha! And sure enough it worked….come morning he immediately asked what all the measurements were and why was the roll of twine out. I simply told him I was experimenting with the twine and have decided that we are going to make curtains for the SUV today. He, as usual, looked at me and said ok…tell me more. And as you can imagine….I did tell him more and an hour later we headed to the hardware store.

First, I had thought about buying fabric for the actual curtains but I do not sew. Never have and I have no interest in learning. Plus, I wanted to do this as cheap as possible with no drilled holes or any damage done to my vehicle. Then I remembered I had a dark colored single sized sheet downstairs that was a spare. It would be perfect. I measured it, laid it out, and simply cut it in half the long way.

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We got really lucky with the sheet having overlapping sewn edges. This way we could thread some paracord through here to be our so called curtain rod.

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However, I did have to cut the corners to allow for the cord to come through. So what I did was cut the ends and then quickly hand sew through the original seems so they would not unravel. Not pretty, I know, but it will work.

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With the cord through both sides we then moved out to the SUV and started making the anchor points where the curtains would hang from. My SUV has these round hooks in the back of both sides that we believe are for a cargo net that I do not have. So these two hooks are going to be used for one end of the curtain anchor on each side.

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The front anchor will be the visor on each side. We simply tied a loop that will stay attached and made a loop in one end of the cord and attached a carabiner for easy hookup and removal.

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Then when both ends are secured we simply loop the middle over the garment hook on each side.

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Add a solar shield to the front window and it was time to install and see how it all comes together.

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The curtain easily slides on the paracord to leave in more light or less. And with a metal paper clip it can be attached easily to the edge of the solar shield for extra darkness and privacy.

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It’s lightweight and easy to remove.Simply unclip the front carabiners and unhook the back two cords clipping the metal paper clips to these so they cannot pull back through the curtain then fold and store. Simple, cheap, and super easy…just the way I like it.

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I do believe I will leave the tiny side windows near the back uncovered for some daylight and just to be able to see if any creatures of the wild wander into our campsites at night. Someday I really hope to see a bear! Even though we don’t plan to cover these small windows they are still tinted glass so we will still have plenty of privacy. The back hatch window we are thinking of using poster board to just cover this area if anything. Again, it’s tinted darker and we always back into a sight so privacy in the back of the SUV is usually never an issue.

Now all I have to do is wait until I can go camping and try them out. That probably will not happen until September. Until then I will live with memories of the first time we slept in the back of our SUV.

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Painting, Planting, Planning

We spent the weekend working….to put it mildly. Being a home owner is not what I would call rainbows and cupcakes all the time. Yes, it’s a great investment for your future IF it does not consume all your time repairing, remodeling, and reinvesting more money into that so called future investment.

We started this weekend with a simple room painting of our son’s bedroom. Not so bad right…..until it was time to install the new ceiling fan since his was making some kind of weird noise. Still not so bad, $100 later and the new fan was picked out ready to install. Well, that is where things went completely wrong. Now, being the person I am, I do not know the technical terms for any of this building stuff, but whom ever built our house years ago really half assed a few things and we are slowly finding them throughout the 20 years we have lived here. And believe me, when you have a husband who knows a lot about technical/mechanical things…..it makes him livid which then inturn makes a 1 hour job into a 3 hour job. It then makes me question, once again, why we ever thought buying a house is something everyone should do in their lifetime. And it also makes me very thankful my husband can fix almost anything.

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While all this repainting and repairing was going on in one end of our house, I spent time in the other end meal prepping for the week and planting some herbs to enjoy cooking with in the next few months. Fresh herbs add such a wonderful flair to dishes and I am so looking forward to having them freshly available.

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I also did some experimenting with brewing coffee in our tea/coffee press. We are  seriously thinking of taking this with us camping for fresh, non instant coffee and I had never made coffee in the press before only tea. So today was a good day to try it out. Impressed I was after we both tried a cup and now it is officially added to our list of camp supplies we will need in the next few weeks.

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Add in two trips to the gym, a haircut I had to give to my husband, and numerous other home chores, I would say we had an extremely productive weekend. I am glad we finished these big jobs before the upcoming nice weekends we are hoping to have are here. There is nothing worse than having the sun shining brightly and us stuck indoors working.

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What It’s Like Living With A Self Proclaimed GEEK

Over twenty years ago I stood in a church and was married to the love of my life. We had known each other for quite some time before tying the knot but it’s over these last 20+ years I have learned how much I did not know about my husband.

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Through job changes, having a child, deaths, buying a house, numerous home/vehicle repairs, caring for each other in times of sickness, panic attacks on mountain tops, to days where I just could not imagine having to wake up to another day covered in snow….we have stood my each other through it all. I have changed, he has changed and we have changed as a couple….but the one thing that has not changed is his self proclaimed title of being a GEEK. He has been known, for as long as I have known him, to be called by anyone and everyone for help with any type of project. And let me tell you, his brain never, and I mean NEVER, stops thinking. And this is the one thing that DRIVES ME CRAZY. He knows so much about off the wall things that it is amazing. But ask him to stop and pick up milk on his way home from work…..and its likely not going to happen without a reminder. Frustrating, it is, but I have learned to love what he can do since he does it so well. Here is a bit of what living with a GEEK looks like on a daily basis in my home.

He can build almost anything from scrap…..balance beams for my daycare kids,

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kayak trailers,

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to a fishing pole holder that attaches to his Jackson kayak with no holes drilled into the kayak itself.

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Oh, and don’t forget the organic fly swatter built one evening while sitting by the campfire.

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We have also had to try some of the strangest food and drinks. Some of the strangest being this crab looking thing

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to alligator sausage(YUCK, YUCK, AND YUCK AGAIN).

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And then don’t forget the celery soda…..this was, by far, the WORST!!!!

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He comes up with the some cheap ideas to store all our watercraft. This storage idea for “the Beast” cost us $7. Now, this I didn’t mind at all since I am quite frugal.

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He repaired my immobilization boot after hiking with it on a few trails with some funky smelling glue type material which in turn saved me $100 to buy a new one.

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And yes, even though not all his ideas work out as planned and there has been some failures and some bloodshed, for the most part he can fix, invent, make, and come up with a plan to do almost anything. At times as annoying as it is to watch this happen on a daily basis, I am proud to say that I am a pretty lucky person to be the one he choose to spend his life with. All in all, living with a self proclaimed GEEK is not so bad and when it is there is always wine.

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