Meals in Jars

Student teaching has begun, though fall semester class are still a week away.  I’m questioning how I’m going to provide healthy eating for myself and the kids. It’s much easier heating pizza or cooking spaghetti every night, compared to putting thought and time into building a healthy menu. When I get busy and stressed, I find myself wishing someone else would step into the picture and cook a nice meal for me. Yes, I’m a romantic at heart … so I obviously need a workable plan in place instead of being so wishful.  🙂

I have discovered a wonderful idea for quick breakfasts and lunch so that I have a little more time (hopefully) to think ahead what to make for dinner.  Overnight oats in mason jars, and salad in a jar! What a GREAT idea!! My kids can easily help create breakfast ahead of time during the weeks they are with me. I have a feeling that making more than we need in advance won’t hurt, since my teens constantly snack. 

IMG_9175

Check out the variety of overnight oats one can prepare in advance! What a gift to tired parents everywhere!  I’m glad that I’ll be able to use almond milk since my oldest son is lactose intolerant, and can use a variety of different ingredients to please numerous preferences of everyone in the family.

https://www.familyfoodonthetable.com/overnight-oatmeal-jars/

I also discovered that one can create salad mixtures in mason jars ahead of time, and then “grab & run” out the door to work (or school). No more taking the same gluten free sandwich in my lunch every single day! This semester is the beginning of my student teaching year and eating sandwiches Monday through Friday is already getting old. I’ve only been student teaching for two weeks! Seriously- meals in mason jars will be a life saver for me!!!

IMG_9176

                            https://hurrythefoodup.com/how-to-pack-a-salad-in-a-jar/

Additional meals-in-jars ideas abound on Pinterest! Some people have told me they are afraid of Pinterest because they get “lost” in all the possibilities. I honestly don’t have this problem with the schedule that I keep. 🙂 My suggestion is to simply set a specific time to search for jar meal ideas … and then immediately create a shopping list. Personally, if I don’t write things down when thinking about them, it’s likely I will forget and then miss an important ingredient while grocery shopping.

Here I go … making a list, checking it twice, and then creating my breakfast and salad jars for my upcoming week. Wish me luck on making time to eat healthy, as I wish you luck!!  We’re in this thing together~ 🙂

Next time, I’ll share tips for planning and/or creating evening meals.

Healthy planning in a crunch

pexels-photo-793763.jpeg

    I admit that planning for healthy eating is a big challenge when you’re a full time student working two part time jobs, and co-raising three teenagers. When my kids are at my house alternating weeks, I’m quite certain I have purchased enough groceries to feed everyone for an entire week. A couple days later, however, I find myself running back to the store with another shopping list and coupons in hand. And meal planning? On the busiest nights, I hope the kids will eat leftovers … sometimes to discover they already ate them?!

It is SO helpful having a daughter old enough to cook simple recipes now!!

    During my “alone” weeks, I don’t cook a lot because it would mean I’d consume the same food over and over again. For. The. Entire. Week.  

The daycare/preschool where I work includes employees within their lunches and snacks, so I don’t usually think to pack any food with me for my college classes that are before or after work. That said, my classes are sometimes in the middle of the day or right at dinner time (the evening meal). I often carry snacks of almonds and dried cranberries with me so that I’ll always have something on hand and won’t be tempted to try out the vending machines on campus. My water bottle accompanies me everywhere I go, as I attempt to increase my water intake.  6-8 glasses of water a day seems like an awful lot when there’s other things to accomplish in life. I have discovered it’s helpful keeping the water bottle nearby to serve as a reminder.

pexels-photo-669986.jpeg

    Ok, so when do I find the time to plan for healthy food planning? I often create a shopping list based on my coupons, and I rely on old favorite recipes or visit Pinterest for ideas.  Life is very unpredictable, and I have learned that flexibility is the key for survival while trying to keep your head above water. Yes, having tacos, pasta, and enchiladas within one week is acceptable.  Having your children help with the cooking is an amazing experience. They get to practice some valuable life skills while you get to rush off to class! Or to work! 😉 Seriously, take some time during the weekend to cook alongside your children, and let them know what the next week’s schedule looks like.  Everyone in the family appreciates knowing what to expect.

    Google calendar is great for planning meals! Depending on how often you tire of certain recipe’s, you may schedule each meal to repeat in a specified number of weeks. The only problem I have had with this method is changing family and school schedules that mess up predetermined meal plans. So, remember to be flexible and periodically update your Google calendar to reflect scheduling changes.

Here is a tutorial that will help you to set up your own Google calendar. Everything from meal planning to school schedules can be added to one household calendar for everyone to access! 🙂

Next up…I plan to share a couple of my favorite recipes.   🙂

A Journey to Wellness

We all strive for health and wellness in order to improve our crazy lives.  As a single mother of three teenagers, and a full-time elementary education student, I know all too well the challenge of implementing a healthy lifestyle necessary for a balanced life. I’m not an expert, but enjoy sharing all that I learn within the chaos. Topics within this new blogging endeavor will include all the dimensions of wellness- not just exercise, health, and nutrition. Social, emotional, spiritual, occupational, and intellectual wellness are all very important pieces to life’s puzzle that we often neglect. I am excited to learn along-side with you as a friend. Perhaps, something I share will trigger new ideas or potential helpful methods for you! 

For starters, if I never made lists, I would be very lost in this world! It seems there’s always one thing more that screams for my attention, keeping me from a hike in the mountains- my preferred form of exercise. Keeping fit is important to me, and I refuse to fall into the trap of making excuses for why I cannot exercise. I even told myself in the past that since I am an “outdoors” kind of girl with no time for a hike, that I wasn’t going to exercise at all. I had to accept being in a different [busier] season of life with finishing school and having teens, and embrace the gym instead (said with a grimace)! If I didn’t have the YMCA to visit, I would definitely fail to “find time” for any exercise at all. And … using exercise equipment is not all that bad. 

Image result for YMCA images

If you are concerned about being able to afford a YMCA membership, the Y offers financial assistance for families or single parent families who qualify. You can visit your local Y’s website for more specific details.

The first step in making time for physical fitness interests and desires need to be considered before sketching work out goals. I say “sketching”, because individuals need flexibility while discovering what works for them. Perhaps, when first creating work out goals, I want to try running around the block or on the treadmill, and find that I dislike running. I might admire another person’s running goals and try to adopt their routine, but if I am struggling to enjoy myself the entire time, it’s worth seeking something different. I would need to anticipate returning to it several times a week. Working out is difficult enough, so find something you love!  

The second step in making time for fitness, is to alternate building muscle with aerobic exercise. If you have already chosen workouts you enjoy, this will flow smoothly together after awhile. I work out about thirty minutes on equipment (which may include walking on a treadmill- ha!), and then enjoy a fitness class at the YMCA, including yoga or Zumba. Actually, one day I workout on equipment, and another day is the group exercise. I am a big fan of group exercise even though I enjoy solo fitness hikes in the mountains. I can’t explain this interesting personality contradiction, but at least I know what motivates me!  🙂

IMG_7641
One of my favorite places to exercise! Garden of the Gods Park in Colorado Springs

Once you know what motivates you, create a baseline fitness routine- the bare minimum of what can be completed on a difficult day. We all have fluctuating motivation when it comes to working out, because every day is different. If you have a baseline plan to follow, then you won’t feel guilty when you don’t feel like tackling the extra methods you intended to try. My baseline is what I mentioned in the previous paragraph, and my extra’s include additional exercise equipment for my legs and arms. I don’t especially care for free weights, so I leave those off of my “extra’s” list. 

Before long you will be surprised how the fitness routine becomes second nature, and how disappointed you feel when a day’s crazy schedule delays a visit to the gym. Have fun finding what exercise(s) keeps you interested in working out! Sometimes, having a friend to check-in with is the best motivation of all. You can keep each other accountable with your fitness goals and build a trusting friendship at the same time.

Good luck to you!

It’s time for me to go to the YMCA now …. I will check in again soon!   🙂