Meal planning: An easy way to watch your health and your wallet

If you’re a busy professional, you probably don’t have a lot of time to cook healthy meals for yourself. Maybe you find yourself ordering take out, or going out to eat more often than you’d like. In that case, your bank account may be feeling the crunch. But there is a simple way to fix both of these problems: meal planning.

Planning your meals and grocery shopping on a weekly basis helps you eat healthier by ensuring you have on hand everything you need to cook a nutritious meal. It helps you save money by reducing your excuses to eat out—and limiting the amount of food that goes to waste in your refrigerator. 

Not sure how to begin? Here’s a quick get-started guide to meal planning:

  1. Make a master list. For ease of menu-planning, create a master list of go-to recipes that you can refer to when you’re out of ideas. As you come across meals you’d like to try, add them to the list. Then each week, making your menu is as easy as opening up your master list and choosing a few options. 
  2. Plan your menu. If it feels overwhelming, you can start by just making a dinner meal plan. Add in lunch and breakfast in a week or two. Then, create your grocery list. Group like items together (produce in one column, dairy in another, dry goods in a third) so that it’s easy to find everything once you’re in the store.
  3. Cook extra and use your leftovers. If you cook a double portion on Monday, you won’t have to cook again on Wednesday or Thursday. If you prefer not to eat the same thing too often, you can also freeze the extra for the future. Leftovers also make excellent lunches. 
  4. Make grocery shopping part of your routine. Carve out a day and time to grocery shop each week and make it a habit so you’re not tempted to skip it.
  5. Build in a break. If you enjoy trying new things and eating out, you don’t have to give it up altogether. By cooking more often, you can save your money for truly special meals that you won’t feel guilty splurging on—money-wise and calorie-wise.

Now start making your list and enjoy the health benefits and money savings that come with meal planning!

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Fixer Upper: 4 Easy Home Improvement Projects

Summer is upon us, pandemic restrictions have eased, and hopefully you will find yourself with a little free time on your hands. But summer isn’t just a great time to enjoy being outside. The more relaxed pace makes this season a good time to tackle small home improvement projects around the house that can have a big impact.

From improving an unsightly corner of your home to upgrading a room, here are four ideas for easy summer projects that will invigorate and inspire you to flex your DIY muscle.

Give your half bath a facelift.

Changing the whole look of your guest bathroom can be as easy as replacing the mirror with a statement piece and adding a rug or new hand towels. If you’re willing to put in a little more work, consider a new paint job. Half bathrooms are typically small enough that it doesn’t take long—or much paint—to repaint the whole thing. The small wall area also means that you can experiment with bolder colors than you’d choose for a larger room. Try a deep copper or a vivid plum—or create a statement wall with stencils or wallpaper.

Reorganize a closet.

Warning: This project is addictive. Once you’ve redone one closet, you may want to do all of them. Making over a closet can be as simple as purging items you no longer need and reorganizing the ones you choose to keep. Or you can remove closet doors, install new hardware or turn an unused storage space into a fun office or reading nook.

Create a mudroom.

The entry of a house or apartment can be the hardest area to keep organized. You can help bring order to this space—and the rest of your home—with some clever organizational wizardry. Try removable self-adhesive hooks on a wall near your front door, with a boot tray or small shoe rack underneath. Having a place to keep your stuff will motivate you to put it away, and make it easier to find when you are trying to get out the door in a hurry.

Organize a collection.

Whether we’re talking purses, baseball caps, scarves, or ties, it can be difficult to keep a collection of items organized. If space is at a premium, try displaying them as art in a hallway. Or utilize the underused space on the back of a bedroom door. You can store purses or belts in a repurposed wall file organizer, or install decorative hooks for scarves and hats. Best yet, collect it all for donation!

A home improvement project like one of these is the perfect summer pastime. Happy DIYing!

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