Save money and eat better at lunch with this simple advice

Most of now know that there is a lot to be said for pre planning our meals during the week; we get to eat healthier food, we don't grab and go just because we're hungry and haven't thought ahead, and of course we save money! Seriously, what's not to love? (check out more benefits of meal planning in this post)

The Problem is we don't always follow our own advice. Evening meals are one thing; we have a menu, we've shopped for what we want and we choose which meal to eat in which order. Lunches and snacks however seem to escape the rules of eating well. Many of us mean well but when that meeting goes on too long or we get to lunch time and we're already too hungry to have the patience to make something, we tend to go with the flow. Someone orders pizza or suggests going out to lunch and what do 'we' do? We join in; it's sociable, it's easy and it can be instant gratification!

And the answer? At some point during the week find a few moments to plan ahead and prep. It doesn't have to be a major mission to do it all in one go, it can be done during other meal prep or cooking. Whilst the weekend is prime time to plan for the week ahead in our house find a time that suits you (we often do our prep work on Monday night since weekends we're away, busy or just having too much fun!!)

It takes no longer to boil a dozen eggs than it does to make a coffee, so do both at the same time. There you go, each of you has an egg or two each day! Wash and chop a bunch of salad veg while that night's dinner is in the oven; you've already got the utensils out and the counter is already a mess so let's kill two birds with one stone! Bag the salad leaves in Ziplocs, chop up and bag carrots, celery, bell peppers, add some baby tomatoes and hey presto you have a week's worth of healthy snacks. Boil up a pan of grains; I like to use sprouted quinoa and brown rice mix; portion it up into containers and there's the protein for your lunches. You can even fill a bunch of Mason Jars with all the salad items so you only need to add dressing and shake it up at lunch time - could it be any easier? Grill up some lean chicken and add some to each salad or the cooked rice; even the messy jobs like grating cheese - do it all now and bag it up! Are you starting to see the picture now?

You're way more likely to eat healthily if you take your food in to work/college etc with you. And this doesn't just work for the busy commuters, it's just as effective if you work from home - trust me I learned the hard way. You get all the nutrients your body needs to do its daily tasks and you get to choose a good balanced and tasty menu each week. It really is as easy as it sounds to do all this prep work while you're in the kitchen doing other things; don't leave it till the morning as you're rushing out the door - it won't happen. But it's easy to grab those containers and ziplock bags full of snacks and lunch that you prepared' 3 days ago!

Let me know how it goes!

  • Do you meal plan?
  • What are some of your favourite items for prepping in advance

What happens when the work/life balance swings too far...

I'm a big believer in getting the work/life balance right, I always have been and a career in the Military helped me achieve it for more than 23 years.

Then came summer 2013; I was into my second year of running my own business, (InSpiralCoaching) and like most people working on their own with no real structure or set hours, I was struggling with the guilt of not being busy when I had no reason to be. In my mind I should be head down, arse up from dawn till dusk - after all, how could I ever succeed if I wasn't at my desk 80+ hours a week!

So I did what I had to and got done what needed to be done but I spent many hours looking longingly out of the window as the beautiful weather passed me by, convinced in my own mind that I was far too busy to actually take time off to enjoy life. Instead of loving the hike and the bonding time, walking my dog was just an escape from my desk - but only if I had my headphones on, studying as I went. I'd beat myself about how little I would achieve some days, and when I did succeed it was never enough. All the things I love about living here in the summer; hiking and mountain biking with Meli, (the aforementioned pup), paddle boarding our myriad local lakes and long days of motorcycling ended up taking a back seat. So when I looked back at the end of summer I started to wonder what it was all about; where had it gone?

We're limited to our time on this amazing planet and at 50 I figured I wasn't far off half way through mine - I only have another 50 or so summers left in me... So I vowed that come this summer there was no way I wasn't going to live it to the full, come what may! I'd tipped the balance to one extreme and (purely in the interest of research you understand!) I was determined to go check out the other end of the scale and not miss a thing. Thankfully I'd taken on a bit of part time work helping out at Urban Harvest last winter so I couldn't completely escape the real world - I had some structured commitments in my week!

So I'm happy to say I took on this summer with a vengeance and dragged (?! - yeah right!) my long suffering wife with me. Long motorcycling trips were arranged starting with a five day expedition with friends, we went camping on undiscovered, (to us) islands, hiking, cycling and paddle boarding were regular activities and fitness was at an all time high. We went to classical concerts and music festivals. I snuck in a 4 day trip to ride my bike around a track and we even managed a two week trip to visit friends and family in SoCal, catching up with two friends I went to online 'school' with and another we'd not seen for almost 10 years. Did my business suffer? probably. Did my finances suffer? definitely. Was it worth it? abso-frickin-lutely...!

It's called balance right? So whether we tip the scales lightly each way or we set them rocking like a ship in a gale it's no good just looking at the here and now. We need to look at the bigger picture over a greater period of time and see how well it balances. Work 100 hour weeks if you need to to but don't forget to add in some 'let's go crazy' time to make up for it - and don't feel guilty about doing it; no one's judging you - unless they are in which case they don't matter!

Who knows; maybe next year I'll get it right, maybe not. Like the rest of us, I'm just a work in progress :-)
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