How to Avoid Fast Food When You Don’t Have Time to Cook

How to Avoid Fast Food When You Don’t Have Time to Cook

When it’s been a long day and you have even more work to do, turning to fast food seems like such a great way to address your hungry belly. But getting into the habit of eating out frequently is not only bad for your wallet, but it can also be really bad for your health. Even eating at arguably healthy places tends to mean ingesting inordinate amounts of unhealthy preservatives.

Home Meal Kits

According to Stylist, a great way to prepare for days when you don’t have time to cook is making great meal kits that you can whip up fast. For example, try making jar salads. This involves putting the various ingredients of your salad into a jar with the heaviest ingredients at the bottom and the lighter more delicate ingredients, like the lettuce, towards the top. Then when it’s time for lunch, all you do is throw in the dressing, shake, and then plop the salad onto your plate.

Freeze Meals

Freezer meals are another great option for days when you don’t have time to cook. You can make any meal in advance, stick it in the freezer, and eat it days or even weeks later in some cases.

In addition to simply freezing meals, think about using vacuum sealers with your food. According to Vacuum Sealers Unlimited, commercial vacuum sealers can do a lot more and last longer. For example, using vacuum sealers will not only prevent food from harmful bacteria, but they also prevent your food from getting freezer burn which makes your food much tastier when you reheat it.

Snacks

Another approach that you might consider adopting on really busy days is a snack approach to meals. Instead of trying to have three big meals a day, according to HealthLinkBC, you should focus on having a variety of healthy snacks that you can eat throughout the day.

You would be surprised at how much nutrition you can get from snack foods. For example, snacking on edamame or quinoa can give you the protein you need for the day without requiring you to take the time to cook chicken or another kind of meat.

If you’re trying to stick to a healthy diet, stressful days when you can’t cook can seem to sabotage your goals. But even on your busiest days, you can still find a way to work within your lifestyle goals if you think about things beforehand. Try implementing some of these strategies to see what clicks for you.

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Fun Family Activities that Save Money

Fun Family Activities that Save Money

Spending time with family is essential. However, some activities can end up being pretty pricey if you do them often or have a large family. It is helpful to find activities for your family that can help you save money.

Thrifting

Taking your family thrifting is an excellent opportunity to spend time together and have a unique experience. Additionally, thrifting can help instill good spending habits in your children which will be helpful in the future. When going thrifting, the selection is much more varied than typical stores. You’ll likely see new items every time you go. As a family, you can create very unique styles and do it all for very affordable prices. Thrift stores offer more than just clothing. You can find cheap furnishings for your house, decorations, and even genuine vintage items. Thrifting will offer you a new and exciting experience every time you and your family visit.

Hiking

If you are looking for an inexpensive and active way to spend time together, consider taking your family for a hike. This will allow you to spend a great deal of time together, explore nature, and get your blood pumping. The best way to have a great experience is to thoroughly prepare. You want to make sure you have plenty of water, food, a first aid kit, and anything specific to your children. Plan out enough time in your day for the hike and expect that there will be delays. Afterall, kids like to take their time exploring. While on your hike, be sure to give your kids encouragement to keep them motivated. You can also make it fun by playing games on the trail. For example, you can create a scavenger hunt that will keep everyone engaged.  

Gardening

Having a family garden is a great way to continually spend time together. It can be hard work managing a garden but doing the work together can be fun and it can also be a learning experience for your kids. If you have young kids, gardening is a great way to engage all five senses and develop fine motor skills. For older kids, gardening is a great way to teach responsibility. Your kids can learn to take ownership for their work. Additionally, you can teach your kids important garden skills and principles. For example, they can learn the importance of using mulch in flower beds. Adding mulch has multiple benefits, and your kids will enjoy playing in the dirt. To top it all off, gardening can help you save money on groceries if you choose to grow your own vegetables.

Build Something

Working on a project is a great way to bring the family together. You can all learn valuable skills and then end up with something you can all be proud of. Throughout the project, you can teach your kids who to work with different materials, use tools, and anything else related to your project. Building something together is also a great way to save money. You can make something for your home that will be useful and cheaper than something you’d buy from a store. As an added bonus, you can take this project as a chance to get creative. Try making something that represents your family in some way.

Have a Movie Night

Creating a special movie night for your kids can turn an ordinary activity into something fun for the whole family. For your movie night, start off by setting the mood. You can rearrange the room and decorate to make it feel like a real movie theater. If you’re doing a theme, like superhero movies, you can decorate appropriately. Of course, no movie night is perfect without some snacks. Pop some fresh popcorn, buy some classic movie candy, and set out some fun drinks. If you want to make the night even more fun, consider setting up a “drive-in” movie in your backyard. All you need is a screen (such as a white sheet), a projector, and some cardboard boxes to be your car.

Camp in the Living Room

Give your family the experience of camping without even having to leave your home. Not to mention, it’s far more convenient. To start off, you’ll need a tent. Of course, you can also create a tent with some sheets and blankets and then fill it with plenty of pillows. Stringing lights and placing lanterns around the room can really set the mood for your “camping trip.” With everything set up, you can enjoy some classic camping activities like singing songs or telling ghost stories. There are also plenty of options for making smores inside. Camping in the living room is a great way to have fun with the family without having to spend any money.

Have a Cooking Competition

Whatever the skill level of your kids, having a friendly cooking competition can be a fun activity. For younger kids, it’s a chance for you to teach them important skills in the kitchen. For the older kids, it’s an opportunity to show off the skills they’ve learned. There are many ways you can have a family cooking competition. One fun idea is creating a mystery box challenge where you gather random ingredients that another family needs to try and make a meal out of. You can also divide into teams and have a team cook off.

Visit the Library

Once you have a library card, visiting the library is a free activity. You can visit as a family and make reading goals together. Perhaps you all have to read one book each month. You could even all read the same book and have a book club. If you make it a habit to go to the library, and encourage reading amongst your family, you can help your kids develop a passion for reading. This can be very helpful for mental stimulation and even in their regular schoolwork.

Spending time with family doesn’t need to be expensive. There are a lot of fun activities to do as a family that don’t cost much and many can even be done at home. Afterall, the most important thing is that you are spending time together.

Looking to save even more money? Check out our resources!

Can Co-Parenting Actually Work?

Can Co-Parenting Actually Work?

Children of divorced parents often struggle to trust, to feel cared about, or to feel the constructive influence of both parents in their lives. Constantly being relocated and split between two homes can be detrimental or at least concerning to a child’s upbringing. “Co-parenting” is one solution that has significant potential in productive parenting and a healthy lifestyle for a child. Maintaining a focus on the child, consistent constructive communication, an effort to align guidelines, and mutual respect and cooperation between parents are essential components to a positive relationship between child and parent.

Focus on the Children

At the very least, your child is the one element that undeniably connects you and your former spouse. If both of you want to contribute to your child’s life and play a role in it, they need to be the determining factor in any decision. As difficult as it may be, there will likely be things you will have to (even begrudgingly) compromise to create the best circumstances for the child’s development and happiness. With your ex, according to Lifehacker, you should establish that your child’s well-being is the most important thing to both of you and you will each be willing to do what is necessary to foster such.

Talk it Out

Communication is always key! There will almost certainly be situations concerning rules, boundaries, involvement, and expectations that will require communication between you and your ex. Especially when determining the initial guidelines of co-parenting, consider professional mediation to ensure effective communication. According to Judy Ford Attorney at Law, mediation can help you negotiate custody and other decisions, without the costly and exhausting process of going to court. If that can be avoided, both parties will feel more confident and less hostile towards the other knowing that each of you is willing to be patient, composed, and considerate.

Try to Be Consistent

According to Empowering Parents, having rules in one home and not the other may be frustrating for a child who doesn’t understand why one parent finds an act okay while another finds it punishable. Discuss with your partner how to align expectations to create a level of consistent implementation of rules. If that alignment is unattainable, explain to your child that it is okay for there to be differences in homes and provide reasonable cases for the benefit of both kinds of rules. Support your partner’s decisions as best you can; if there are issues that you feel strongly should not be a part of the child’s life, communicate or seek mediation.

Show Respect Through Cooperation

Your child will be attuned to the tension between you and your partner if you are uncooperative. Following through on promises and schedules is an important part of demonstrating respect and support to your partner and your child. Attempting to sabotage or take advantage of the other parent in your child’s life will only result in confused feelings on the child’s end, and hurt feelings on the parent’s. Be kind to your child by being kind to each other!

Co-parenting may be a tricky balance for all involved, but it also allows children to create healthy and uplifting relationships with both of their parental figures, meaning they have positive influences from both sides. Let this be your goal, and co-parenting can be successful.

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How to Put Together an Estate Plan for Your Family

How to Put Together an Estate Plan for Your Family

No matter what stage of life you are in, it is wise to create and update an estate plan for your family. This plan will ensure your family members are taken care of if something happens to you. A few aspects to your estate plan should include getting a will, buying life insurance, and designating a power of attorney.

Get a Will

A will is a legal document that identifies when and how your beneficiaries will inherit your property and assets. If a beneficiary dies before you, you also have the opportunity to name other alternatives. Additionally, a will provides instructions for how you’d like your executor to settle your final affairs. Your will must meet state requirements set by state law, if it does not, the probate court will not honor it. These requirements generally include the number of witnesses and how the will should be signed to be considered valid. If you are unsure how to fulfill all the requirements, consider hiring an attorney to assist you.

Buy Life Insurance

Parents with children and homeowners should especially consider purchasing life insurance policies. Life insurance will protect your dependents from the loss of your income when you are gone. In your absence, your family will be financially secure with a life insurance payment. Investing in life insurance can help pay off any previous debt, cover funeral expenses, build cash value, and give your family financial stability

Designate a Power of Attorney

Power of attorney is given to the person you designate to have authority to make decisions for you if you cannot. Power of attorney is generally given to spouses but should always be granted to someone you can trust to handle your finances, healthcare, and any other legal matters. Who you designate to handle affairs can be one or multiple individuals. After you have designated your power of attorney, bring them in on your situation and make your wishes known regarding the management of your affairs.

Preparing for the unexpected is the best way to make sure your family is well taken care of in the event of your death. After you have put together your estate plan, notify family members what your wishes are so they can be better prepared. Keep in mind, with the proper legal action your plan can change at any time. Ultimately an estate plan protects your assets, and more importantly your family.

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What You Should Do Before Buying a Home Right Now

What You Should Do Before Buying a Home Right Now

Buying a home is an exciting event, but can also be pretty stress-inducing… if you go into it unprepared. To prepare yourself for the housing market, take the time to research your local market, find a good agent, and establish your standards for your house hunt. This will help you through the process and help you feel in control of your real estate experience.

Expect Heavy Competition

Supply and demand have swung to a point where existing homes are more highly sought after than ever. The competition for housing is significant, but don’t let that overwhelm you—you can still come to your offers as a stand-out candidate. Strive for confidence in your offers: prepare all of your necessary tax information (bank statements, income information like W2 forms, etc) so that you are ready to make an offer quickly when you find a property you like.

Find an Experienced Agent

Facing the housing market on your own may feel like a paralyzing task. Real estate agents are a great resource for guiding you through the housing market and pointing you in the right direction, providing centralized and organized information on the homes that match your desired qualities. Look for an agent that is knowledgeable and experienced in your specific location and situation! There are many benefits to using an experienced real estate agent as opposed to one unfamiliar with the area. This will assure that you get the best advice if you have any special circumstances to take into consideration, and it will help you feel heard and understood. You will trust your agent more if you are confident that they understand you.

Establish Your Standards

There are some elements of house hunting that you can be firm on and others that you may need to be flexible with. Determine what things fall into those two categories. Your budget, for example, is something you may have to set a firm ceiling for, but special features like access to community centers or balconies or wood versus carpet floorings are all things you may be more willing to compromise. What things do you need, and what things can you be ok not having (at least for now)? Going into your house search with these standards already established will make it an easier time saying yes or no to places on the list.

Even in this energetic housing climate, finding a home you love doesn’t have to be impossible or stressful. Prep yourself with expectations of the market, your agent, and your house to give yourself an easier time maneuvering real estate.

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How Negotiation Skills Can Save You Money

How Negotiation Skills Can Save You Money

Negotiation can be intimidating, especially if you aren’t in the habit of doing it, but it can save you a lot of money. Learning to negotiate well can help you to get the things you need at a price that you are happy with. No matter what you do for work, developing negotiation skills can help you to be more financially stable.

Negotiate Your Bills

Many people believe that all bills are solid and have to be paid in full. However, in many cases, according to Lifehacker, those bills can be negotiated to a lower rate. Even things like your utility payments and credit card bills can potentially be negotiated to a more reasonable rate. Taking the time to talk to the companies and negotiate costs can help you to find and take advantage of promotions that you were missing out on before. Don’t be afraid to reach out and have a conversation so you can see if there is room for negotiation and save yourself some money.

Navigate Insurance Company Bureaucracies

Insurance companies are one of those places that are full of bureaucracy. If you are skilled at negotiation, you can cut through that bureaucracy to get the coverage you need for a price that makes sense. According to Rogers Beltran, insurance companies will avoid paying you if they can help it. That is why it is essential to negotiate and not take the first offer as the final word. Through negotiation, you can get more help and make sure that you are getting your money’s worth on your insurance policy.

Save Money on Big Purchases

If you are in the market for a big purchase like a car or a home, negotiation skills can come in handy in a big way. Many people struggle with the negotiation process but knowing what you need and what you aren’t willing to compromise can help you out. According to Zillow, when you go into a negotiation, make sure you have as much information as possible so you can prove your point through the negotiation process. Stand your ground and compromise when necessary to come to a price that you are comfortable with.

Negotiation is an old process that has been around since people first started trading with one another. Taking those skills into your life can help you to save money and get better service all the time. Now is the time to hone your negotiation skills so you can better control your financial future.

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