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8 Time-Saving Meal Prep Ideas Nutritionists Actually Use

Food hacks for busy people.

JULIA NAFTULIN 
January 11, 2018

If you're trying to clean up your diet, preparing your own meals is key. But when you come home exhausted after a long day at work, the last thing you want to do is dice onions or wait around for a chicken to roast.  

 

Chop a bunch of veggies

 

If you're prepping meals just for yourself or one other person, it shouldn't take more than an hour to wash, peel, and chop all the vegetables you'll need for the entire week ahead. Julie Upton, RD, suggests prepping enough greens for four to five days, so you'll have them to toss into a stir-fry, throw in a sheet pan, or even munch raw.

Don't love the idea of breaking out a cutting board and dirtying up your kitchen counter? "Buy pre-chopped veggies to make a quick meal," suggests Brooke Alpert, RD, author of The Diet Detox. Sure the pre-cut kind are more expensive, but if it helps you eat healthier, it may be worth the extra cash.

 

Cook one or two protein sources

 

Pan-fry chicken breasts, grill salmon fillets, or hard-boil a half-dozen eggs at once, and you'll have versatile, high-quality protein that can last the entire workweek. Upton has a trick for prepping a large serving of chicken: "I will Instant Pot a whole chicken, then I'll use the cooked chicken during the week for various dishes like soup or casseroles." 

Vegans and vegetarians can steal this hack too by cooking a big pot of lentils, chickpeas, or beans all at once, with an eye toward adding them to veggie-based dishes all week long.

Pack food in storage containers

 

Pick up food storage containers in varying sizes, so you have places to separate and stash pre-made veggies, sauces, protein, and other items. The containers will help them stay fresh too. "I also like to use rectangular glass meal prep containers, so they can be refrigerated, and then baked, and/or microwaved straight from refrigerator," says Sharon Palmer, RDN.

For some foods, plastic bags work just as well. Katherine Brooking, MS, RD, suggests storing your prepared veggies in plastic baggies in the proper proportions for the meals you plan to eat. "I put them in an air-tight baggie with a date so I can just grab and use during the week."

Keep measuring cups nearby

 

Once you have containers filled with a week's worth of food, it can be hard to eyeball the proper serving size for one meal. Cynthia Sass, MPH, Health's contributing nutrition editor, suggests leaving clean measuring cups in the fridge on top of your food containers.

"I can just scoop them out in the right proportions," Sass says. "I aim for two cups of veggies, a half cup of cooked pulses (beans, lentils, chickpeas), or a half cup of wild salmon salad, and a half cup of cooked starch (sweet potato, quinoa, brown rice, purple potato)."

Double up on servings

 

When whipping up dinner for her family, Upton makes extra servings of vegetables, grains, and chicken to use as ingredients for future meals. It's a no-brainer way to keep your prep time minimal yet always have ingredients ready for a quick, fresh dish the next night. "For example, extra veggies become fillers for frittatas," she says. 

Keep measuring cups nearby

 

Once you have containers filled with a week's worth of food, it can be hard to eyeball the proper serving size for one meal. Cynthia Sass, MPH, Health's contributing nutrition editor, suggests leaving clean measuring cups in the fridge on top of your food containers.

"I can just scoop them out in the right proportions," Sass says. "I aim for two cups of veggies, a half cup of cooked pulses (beans, lentils, chickpeas), or a half cup of wild salmon salad, and a half cup of cooked starch (sweet potato, quinoa, brown rice, purple potato)."

Double up on servings

 

When whipping up dinner for her family, Upton makes extra servings of vegetables, grains, and chicken to use as ingredients for future meals. It's a no-brainer way to keep your prep time minimal yet always have ingredients ready for a quick, fresh dish the next night. "For example, extra veggies become fillers for frittatas," she says. 

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Rely on a few versatile recipes

 

"The secret to meal prep is finding a basic recipe that you really enjoy and that works in a few different ways," says Palmer. She likes to make a large batch of turmeric rice, then top it with different veggies and protein throughout the week. Tweaking the same simple yet delicious recipe keeps your meals fresh and satisfying, but they do away with the stress of making a new dish every night. Palmer suggests stocking up on whole grains, kale, or pasta, which work well as the bases of many hearty, healthy dinners.

How to Move Your Valuables: 6 Tips from Realtor.com

by realtor.com

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How to Move Your Valuables: 6 Tips for Protecting Your Most Precious Stuff

 | Jan 8, 2018

Nothing can take away the thrill of finally moving into a new home quite as quickly as discovering that something you love was damaged in the process. What's even worse? If it's something you love that's also very expensive to repair or replace.

Accidents happen, and you can't control everything that occurs after you put your precious belongings on the moving truck. But you can take some safeguards to protect your stuff before the big day—and make sure that the watercolor painting you bought in Italy or your grandmother’s vintage vanity isn't irreparably damaged in the process.

To keep the good vibes rolling from the moment you set foot into your new place until every last knickknack is unpacked, follow this valuable advice from pros on protecting your valuables. You'll be glad you did.

1. Determine what's valuable to you

Sure, when you think of valuable items, you probably think of the fanciest things you own. But Christine Daves, a certified professional organizer and owner of the Twin Cities–based Think Organized, wants you to expand your definition of "valuable."

She considers items such as little ones’ favorite stuffed animals as precious when she’s organizing a client’s move.

“Kids are already going through such a big change," Daves says. "If they have a specific teddy bear or something, it’s a valuable item if they need it to sleep."

You should also pay special attention to necessities like prescription medications and important documents while relocating, she says. Replacing them can be a costly and stressful process—an emergency doctor’s appointment in a new city in order to refill a lost prescription won’t be cheap or easy.

2. Take an inventory—with photos

Once you've determined what's valuable, make sure you write it all down and take photos of each item—even the paperwork and the pills. It's tedious, we know, but you'll be grateful for the visual proof in case something goes wrong (we'll get to that in a bit).

3. Pack conspicuously

The No. 1 rule of packing is to label your boxes clearly. But when it comes to packing valuable items, Daves cautions against marking them in an obvious way.

“Don’t label a box 'My Gold Jewelry,'" she says. "You want to think that everyone is honest and all of that, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.”

Another pro tip: Pack valuables in small boxes, advises Jon Daly, a mover with Matt’s Moving in Minneapolis.

“Big boxes are meant to be filled with a lot of goods," he explains. "Keep valuables by themselves in smaller boxes so they can go on the top of the load.”

And, of course, you should hit up a moving supply store to buy packing materials, Daly says. They’ll have everything you’ll need—from bubble wrap to specialized boxes—to keep your precious items safe.

4. Keep your small valuables with you

That said, your best bet for protecting your valuables is to keep them off the moving truck entirely. That means transporting them to your new home in your car, or shoving them into your carry-on luggage if you’re flying. (Try to avoid checking these items, as they could disappear somewhere between Point A and Point B.)

In fact, Daves recommends keeping valuables on your person as much as you can while en route to your new digs—even if you’re just stopping in a restaurant for a bite to eat. Toss your precious jewelry and your expensive compact camera into a backpack that you can grab and take with you as you stop, instead of leaving it in the car, no matter how concealed it seems.

5. Leave the big or extra-special items to the pros

What about those bigger valuables that you can’t transport yourself? (For example, that dining table that’s been passed down in your family for generations or the organic mattress your splurged on last year.)

If it fits in a box, go ahead and mark on all sides of the package that the contents need special care. Make sure to note any breakable items on the inventory, too, and tell the movers when they show up, Daly recommends. And don't forget about moving insurance.

That said, your highly valuable and precious items should be packed by professional packing or crating companies—which you might need to hire in addition to your moving company.

Daves recalls a client who once had to move a Steinway grand piano. “For things like that, there is absolutely no reason to go cheap," she says. "Hire the professionals.”

Whom do you call? Start by contacting the store where the item was purchased. It can recommend a company that specializes in crating such pieces.

“If it’s something like a statue, I might look up a museum services company," she says. "They’ll build beautiful crates that are specific to what you have.”

Yes, it'll cost some bucks. But dishing out the cash for packing professionals also takes the responsibility off of you.

“That’s one of the bonuses of having a moving company or [professional] third party pack your items—they’re liable for anything that gets damaged inside,” Daly says.

6. Check your stuff before you let the movers go

Unfortunately, all the planning in the world can’t stop accidents from happening—furniture gets scraped, boxes get dropped, antique crystal gets shattered. The key is to arm yourself against those scenarios with diligence and protections at every step of the moving process.

Once your belongings have been delivered to the final destination, make sure to do a final walk-through before the movers close up the truck and drive off into the sunset.

We know: Moving is utterly exhausting, and you might be tempted to just skip it, sign on the dotted line, and be done. But if you find damage in the unpacking process that you didn’t note on your final walk-through, Daly says, you’ll be hard-pressed to get your moving company to take responsibility for it.

Take thorough notes and photos of any damage you discover. Don’t stop with just photographing the damage—make sure you snap a few pictures of the packaging and boxes, too.

“The idea is that someone can look at your documents and get an idea of what happened or what went wrong” when it comes to filing an insurance claim, Daves says.

Remember those notes and photos you took before the move? They'll come in handy now. Use them to bolster your claim that something went wrong—and that it wasn't your fault.

 
Cinnamon Janzer is a journalist and writer based in Minneapolis. Her work has appeared in Fast Company, USA Today, New York magazine, and more. You can read more about her at www.cinnamon-janzer.com.
 

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Here’s What to Eat for Lunch If You’re Trying to Slim Down, According to a Nutritionist

Whether you prep ahead or grab take-out, these energizing options will help you power through your day.

CYNTHIA SASS, MPH, RD 
January 08, 2018

 

Breakfast gets all the glory as the most important meal. But lunch plays a key role in your day too, especially for anyone trying to slim down. If your midday meals are too skimpy, you may overeat at dinner; while too-heavy lunches can make you sleepy and sluggish—not the ideal mindset for your ongoing weight-loss efforts. Below are five options that strike just the right balance, to help you power through your afternoon and drop pounds healthfully. Each contains plenty of nutrient-rich veggies, lean protein, and beneficial fat, along with a small portion of good carbs (enough to energize you but not enough to keep you from losing weight). 

If you're all about efficiency ...

 

One of the simplest strategies I recommend is making a double portion of dinner, and packing the leftovers for lunch the next day. Include two baseball-sized portions of green veggies, prepped with EVOO and seasonings. (Think leafy greens dressed with EVOO, balsamic, and herbs; or EVOO and herb sautéed or oven-roasted spinach, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, green beans, or zucchini.) Add a portion of cooked lean protein, such as a half cup of pulses, like lentils or beans, or three ounces of poultry or seafood. And include a half cup of a nutrient-rich starch, such as yam, sweet potato, skin-on fingerlings, quinoa, brown, or wild rice. To keep it interesting, change up the combos, herbs, and spices while maintaining the same overall proportions.

If you're into meal prepping ...

 

You can’t go wrong with a simple stir-fry. In a medium pan over low heat, sauté a quarter cup of minced yellow onion in one-third cup of low-sodium vegetable broth until translucent. Add a cup of broccoli and a half cup each of chopped red bell pepper and shredded purple cabbage. Stir in a teaspoon of minced garlic, a quarter teaspoon of fresh grated ginger, one-eighth teaspoon each of crushed red pepper and black pepper, and sauté until veggies are slightly tender. Add a serving of cooked lean protein to heat through, such as three ounces of chopped chicken breast or a half cup of black-eyed peas. Serve over a half cup of cooked brown or wild rice, and garnish with a quarter cup of sliced almonds.

If you appreciate an Insta-worthy meal...

 

It’s true that we eat with our eyes as well as our stomachs. Many of my clients say that beautifully crafted meals help them stay on track with healthy eating, and feel more satiated. One trend that hasn’t fizzled out is mason jar salads: Fill the bottom with a half cup of oven-roasted sweet potato or purple potato. Add layers of dark leafy greens, alternating with sliced grape tomatoes, shredded carrots, and yellow bell pepper; and top with three ounces of canned wild salmon or a half cup of cooked red lentils. Just before you’re ready to eat, top the salad with a dressing made from two tablespoons of tahini, thinned with one and a half tablespoons of water, and seasoned with a teaspoon each of fresh lemon juice and minced garlic, and one-eighth teaspoon each of sea salt and cayenne pepper. Post your Instagram pic, then dive in.

If you're grabbing takeout ...

 

It's a common misconception that sushi is a healthy and slimming lunch. The truth is, sushi rolls are generally packed with white rice, and include a scant amount of protein and veggies. A better Japanese takeout option is a salad with ginger dressing, three ounces of sashimi or seared tuna, a side of avocado, and small side of brown rice. Craving Mexican? Order an entree salad (no fried shell), made from a base of greens and grilled veggies, dressed with pico de gallo, topped with black beans, chicken or fish (or just beans for a veg option), and sliced avocado or guacamole.

If you prefer to graze...

No time to sit down to an actual meal? Nibble on finger foods that add up a balanced lunch. Include a few handfuls of raw veggies (like sliced cucumber, red bell pepper or celery) with a quarter cup of olive tapenade or guacamole, or a few tablespoons of seasoned tahini or almond butter for dipping. For protein, include a half cup of oven-roasted chickpeas, a few hard-boiled eggs, or three ounces of chilled, sliced grilled chicken breast. Round it out with a serving (about three cups) of popped popcorn. Munch away at your leisure.

Cynthia Sass is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, a New York Times best-selling author, and a consultant for the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets.

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JoAnn Gadkowski Team
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660 Southpointe #200
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719-339-8909

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