by Holly Boyer, Senior Editor, INALJ Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia
Job searching self-love – the food edition
So, you’re searching for a job or going through some kind of stressful period in your life or maybe you’re just busy. Eating right and regularly is so important for staying healthy and energized and ready for next interview. I’ve struggled with making sure that my family and I have an actual dinner on the table and that we’re not resorting to fast food too often. With some surprising new food allergy diagnoses this year, I’ve had to figure out pretty quickly how to fit cooking/putting together every meal I eat, since dining out has become not worth the risk of feeling sick for a week. I wanted to share some of what I’ve been doing to make my life a bit easier.
1. Plan out your dinners for the week. I only plan dinners, because my lunches are usually left overs or salads. Every Sunday morning I sit down with a cookbook or two and my tablet opened to allrecipes.com. I have my go to dinners, like tacos, that automatically get added to the list. I have some other tried and true recipes that I pick from, and I recommend that you build a meal repertoire as you go along, but I always choose something that I either haven’t cooked before or haven’t cooked in a while. This gives some variety to our meal plan which allows me to put certain things on the menu every week (spaghetti, anyone?) without it becoming boring. I plan it down to the day – depending on what we have going on that day, I put the less complicated meals on soccer practice nights, and the more complicated meals on the one blessed day we don’t have any after school activities. I always leave 2 days free in my week for when leftovers or sandwiches or the occasional order in meals, which gives me a break from cooking every day and honestly, I’m not always hungry for dinner, so why cook?
2. Cook too much food. On Sundays I roast 2 whole chickens (usually with some potatoes in the pan, yummy.) We eat one of them, and I pick apart the other and save the chicken for future meals, that I’ve already planned out in step 1. I make chicken stock from the bones and use that in whatever chicken meal I’m cooking that week. Some weeks it’s chicken and rice soup or paella or lentils, or, well, you get the picture. I also cook way too much rice – at least 3 cups at a time. Now, I have a family of 5, so that’s about 2.5 times as much as we eat at a meal. But this is what we eat with our leftover chicken or whatever on a “free” night. This also goes for chicken breast (we eat a lot of chicken) – if I’m cooking 3 I might as well cook 6. Someone will make a chicken quesadilla for an afternoon snack, or a wrap for lunch.
3. Love your crockpot. If you don’t have one, get one. Seriously, you have no idea all the great meals you can make in that thing. You can cook apple cinnamon oatmeal in that bad boy overnight and your whole house will smell like heaven. They come in all kinds of sizes, so singletons can get their slow cooking on just as much as those of us with the giant 7 quart monsters. And there are few things better than coming home after a crazy day at work to an already done dinner. It just takes a bit of prep work in the morning, so give yourself 30 extra minutes in the morning if you haven’t already prepared your ingredients the night before (I’m never that proactive.) One of my favorite crockpot recipes is curry chicken. It’s so easy and while it’s not completely authentic (I don’t cook the curry powder/paste in oil like I should) it still tastes yummy. I just throw some raw chicken (boneless, skinless thighs are my favorite, but breast work well too), a can of coconut milk, 1 quartered onion, and more curry powder than I probably should. Some people add a can of tomatoes. I let that cook on low for about 7 hours and when I come home, eat it with the rice I cooked earlier in the week (see how that works?) Chili is also a great crock pot meal, as are the traditional slow cooker favorites: stew and pot roast. Seriously, get a crock pot and check out this book from your local library and go for it (especially the chili.)
4. Don’t eat too much. I know, I’ve just told you too make a ton of food, so what in the world am I talking about? Maybe this is one just for me, but with all this delicious, home-cooked food lying around, I just want to eat it all right now. Even when I’m not particularly hungry. So I’ve given myself permission to not eat if I’m not hungry and try to stop eating before I stuff myself. Eating my leftovers for lunch has helped with this because I know that I’ll get to eat that delicious food again tomorrow!
Obviously there’s a whole lot more to eating right, and I feel free to substitute/reduce ingredients to cut fat or sugar and add vegetables whenever possible. But this will get you started on managing yet another task in your already overloaded life. Believe me, it makes a difference.
Please share your favorite recipes or meal hacks in the comments. I love learning new things to make and new ways to make my life easier!
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