Easy & Healthy Office Lunch Ideas

I might look crazy here… but what I am is thrilled to be eating my home-packed office lunch and save between $10-$15 every day! If you’ve been spending money on fast food, tired of eating leftovers, and need healthy office lunch ideas; you are in the right place.

75 Healthy Office Lunch Ideas you are going to LOVE! Start packing healthy office lunches. Save money, waste less, and eat healthier!

Continue Reading

How I feed my family “real food” on a budget

A few weeks ago, I sent out an email to my MOMables subscribers that led to a lot of replies. Nearly all of them asked: how do you feed your family of 5 “real food” and entertain others on $150 per week? 

What they really wanted to know is how is:

  • How do you buy organic dairy, meat and produce on a budget?
  • What foods do you buy in bulk?
  • What do you make from scratch?
  • What are some of your money saving tips?

It’s no secret that I cook a lot. I talk about food, read about food, write about food and eat food all.day.long. The funny thing is, that shopping for food isn’t my favorite thing to do. I wish I had a shopping assistant -or a Whole Foods near by. Instead, I have to go to 2-3 groceries each week to get all the things I need.

Meal planning is easy. I start with lunches and then plan dinners, breakfast and other snacks. Why start with lunch? Lunch is the one meal I’m not there to make sure the food is fresh, nutritious or homemade. It’s easy for me to find something to make for dinner if I need a certain ingredient for lunch.

Example: we have quesadillas for lunch. that means I am going to need chicken and tortillas. Therefore, I am going to plan a dinner that will yield grilled chicken and another that will also utilize tortillas. I save time and money on wasted food. Win-win. By grilling or prepping what I need ahead of time I save a lot of time. I also don’t need to buy those pre-grilled chicken strips made with lord-knows-what.

Eating out and convenience foods are a lot more expensive.  Proof: last friday I had a a meeting outside the office and my husband wanted me to have “lunch” with him. We went to a local deli that has a lot of healthy options and we spent $22! Yikes. On ONE meal. I thought to myself: I can feed my entire family with that for a day! OK, It was a nice lunch date. 

Now you know another reason why I pack all of our lunches. I am going to apologize for the pictures that come next. They are unedited and were “dumped”  from my iphone. Continue Reading

Meal Planning for Busy People

One of the struggles I’ve recently encountered since returning to work full time is keeping up with the household “stuff.”  It’s what I refer to as the daily grind.  Work? Not so much.  I love what I am doing so I don’t mind putting in the hours and throwing myself into it.  If you’ve been a SGM reader for a while you know my battles with the Mount Everest of laundry  plus keeping up with the household cleaning, kids activities, and cooking!  It is no surprise that I spend A LOT of time in the kitchen testing recipes, making lunches, and naturally cleaning up after myself.

When it comes to feeding my family, fresh food is very important.  I make most things from scratch and homemade dinner is served 5 nights a week.  I have to make a confession here: I cheat.  I use a meal planning service for lunch AND dinner.  For lunches I use MOMables and dinner… well, hop on over and read about why you should meal plan too.  I am giving you the inside scoop on how to meal plan on your own here.

Creating My Action Plan

Today I realized that nearly 1/3 of 2011 has passed by and I don’t think I’ve crossed nearly enough items from my yearly “to-do” list.  If  you’ve been reading for a while, you know that I love to-do lists (not nearly as much as my mother) and they help me stay in track. I have friends that often ask me: how do you get it all done?  I have no idea.  The truth is, that many days I feel like I don’t get enough done. I want to, but I don’t.  Sometimes, unexpected things happen; and other times, I rather spend a couple hrs finger painting with the kids and doing crafts after school.  Other days, I have 5-7 kids in my back yard or my kids are across the street and that’s where you’ll find me.

For me, focusing on work from home is difficult unless the house is picked up.  I know some of you might be thinking that I could go in my office and shut the door…. but I just can’t.  It’s not my nature.  I am my worst enemy.

This year’s resolutions were not out of the ordinary: Live a love centered life, quit part-time job and fill weekends with family activities, reduce the amount of stuff we own, organize, maintain sanity, exercise 4-5 times a week, sell extras on eBay, launch business.  I’m sure there are others in the list but you get the picture. I want simpler living with meaningful experiences. I realize, however, that there is a downfall to my list: no action plan.  Just like I update my 30-60-90 day plan for my business, I need to do this at a household level.  By staying home I have taken the role as the household CEO; therefore, I should tackle it as focused as I would my business.  I try.  My husband would tell you that because I don’t focus on what I’m doing (he’s right, I’m usually thinking what I am going to do next instead of looking at the “now”), I get frustrated and move on to the next thing.

Here are the steps I am going to take to create my action plan:

  1. List each goal and the steps I will take to reach them. For example: Organize closet: 1) remove clothes that don’t fit. 2) Remove clothes that I haven’t worn in 6 months. 3) Sort clothes. 4) Oganize and re-hang.
  2. Prioritize my goals. Is sorting my closet more important than the office?  Will sorting the kid’s rooms make me feel better?
  3. Set deadlines. While I would love to have it all done “right NOW,” it’s unrealistic to expect that.  I am pretty sure this is why I get sidetracked;  I want everything done right NOW.
  4. Revise goals & update. As you accomplish things in your lists, it’s important to revise the other items.  More often than not, you’ll find that some no longer press an immediate need.

I am sometimes guilty of not doing what I preach.  But I’ve had it! Enough is enough. I have so many things on my plate that getting my self prioritized and organized is a necessity for survival.  As mothers, we are pulled in many directions and have many responsibilities; add on to the list managing a start up company, this blog, and my other writing gigs. Whew!  This is exactly why I have to prioritize. My day only has from 10am-2pm and 8:30pm- midnight to get what I need done business and personal.  The rest is family time and sleep.  In the end, I am the one who feels bad, un-accomplished, and unproductive -in every sense.  If I work too much or stay up late, I’m exhausted the next day and therefore, not as cheerful with my kids.

I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s ok to press the “re-set” button in April.  January 1st is just symbolic -in my humble opinion.

What are some of the things you do to get more accomplished? How do  you prioritize your day so you don’t skimp out on your family time?

Today’s Challenge: De-Junk Your Junk Drawer

Admit it. You have one. We all have them.  The dreaded “junk drawer.”  It’s the place where things end up by default and when you can’t find something; you look there first. Some of us start with one drawer, but when that one gets full, we move on to the one next to it.

Whole Living Magazine has a daily action plan challenge.  Adding a daily challenge to my to-do list is not feasible all the time; but this is one that I am happy to take on!  I’d like to share some tips on how to get your junk (any) drawer cleaned and organized.  I have two junk drawers in the kitchen and one “storage and wrapping” drawer that has become quite a mess lately.  It not only holds aluminum foil, glad wrap, and zip lock bags… but it’s the drawer that I stuff unwanted candy or treats my kids come home with (it’s where I pretend I am saving it for later). This is what it looked like before.

image

After a quick trip to the Dollar Tree and $2 later, I purchased some storage cubbies (3/$1).  These are great to organize/separate the rubber bands, treats, name bands for cups, the few artificial sweeteners for when guests want that in their tea/coffee, and chip clips.

image

Unfortunately, I forgot to take a “before” picture of my two junk drawers.  Imagine all that stuff (plus some lots that I threw out) thrown freely in the drawers.  These drawer organizers you see below were about $6 eat at Target.  Well worth the investment if you ask me!

image

The trick to de-junking the junk drawer is to open the drawer and put everything on the counter, clean/vacuum drawer and line if necessary.  As you begin to put items back in the organizers, you must assess if the item is truly needed.  BE HONEST. If you could get rid of it, toss it.  I threw out 3 glue sticks and 2 dried out super glue bottles (and many other things). If things don’t fit, get rid of them or find them a new place. Have no mercy!

Do you have a junk drawer?  What’s an item that doesn’t belong there that is residing there?