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5 Time Saving Tips to Maximize Your Meal Plans

Orange Icon  5 Time Saving Tips to Maximize Your Meal Plans

Orange Icon  5 Time Saving Tips to Maximize Your Meal Plans

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"Time saving" has become my middle name.

Just when I thought having one child was a lot of work...BAM...there came the next one, and now I can't believe how 2 little, adorable human beings have such a great way of taking over your whole day.

That is by no means a complaint. I wouldn't trade this craziness for anything in the world, but I am still as committed to my healthy lifestyle as I was before I had children. Now it just takes some serious strategic planning to get it all done (fellow parents...I know you know what I'm talking about here).

Even if you're not a parent, everyone is busy and pretty pressed for time each day...school, work, house duties, the list goes on and on...and unless you implement some useful time saving strategies to ensure you get in your healthy meals and your exercise, the day has a way of getting away from you.

Today I'm going to share some of my favorite time saving tips to make sure I have healthy food available most of the time. I say "most" of the time because nothing is ever perfect, right?

1. Leftovers, leftovers, leftovers.
I know that's not exactly an earth shattering revelation, but many times people are not maximizing the time that they are cooking and making enough food to have again for breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner the next day. Yes, I said breakfast, and I have been known to have leftover chicken legs and spinach at 6 am. I would say that 9 times out of 10 during the week, my lunch is what I ate for dinner the night before, but I will eat it cold over a salad...baked chicken, grilled beef, broiled salmon...all of these are absolutely delicious over a yummy salad along with my Famous Salad Dressing.

Isabel making chicken fingers2. Freeze the leftovers.
I did this just last night. I made Chicken Tenders for my two sons for dinner. I made enough for their dinner, lunch the next day, and a whole batch to put in the freezer. The whole family absolutely loves these meatballs, and knowing that I have them already prepared in the freezer has saved me many times in a pinch. If I think ahead, I'll pull them out of the freezer the night before and put them into the fridge to defrost for the next day. If not, they defrost really well in a conventional oven (takes about 15 minutes).


crockpot3. The crockpot is my best friend.
Yes, I should probably make friends outside of my kitchen, but whoever invented this wonderful piece of equipment deserves a thank you card from every busy person in the world. I am convinced you can throw an old shoe in there and it will somehow make the whole house smell wonderful and turn out to be a perfect dinner. Okay, okay, I'm exaggerating, but I can throw just about any meat, chicken, or pork in the slow-cooker along with some veggies, chicken stock, and a few spices, and dinner is ready when I get home from work. How easy is that? Many nights I will get all my slow-cooker food items ready in the evening so I can just throw them all in the morning and just turn the thing on.

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4. Prepare your own awesome trail mix at the beginning of each week.
On Saturday or Sunday I dump approximately even amounts of the following into a gallon size zip-close storage bag: almonds, Brazil nuts, pecans, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries (no sugar added), cacao nibs (not as much as all the other stuff), and shredded coconut. I sprinkle in some Celtic sea salt and voila...a delicious and healthy trail mix. Next I put approximately 4 ounces of the trail mix in zip-close snack bags to take with me "on the go." I usually count this as approximately 2 proteins and 2 carbs . My sons have quickly figured out that this delicious trail mix is always in my purse and will go digging for it whenever they're hungry.

apple5. Find recipes that say, "Prep Time: 10-15 minutes" (or less).
The prep time of a recipe is usually the FIRST thing I check before deciding whether or not to even consider a recipe during the week (I save the longer ones for the weekend). The next thing I check is the ingredients list and see whether or not it will require any healthy substitutions or modifications.

Hope you find these 5 tips real time (and sanity) savers when it comes to planning your healthy meals each week. The more you "automate," the more smoothly things go!

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