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Health & Wellbeing

Health and Wellness — lifestyle

Meal Planning: How it Saves You Time & Money

For the past couple of years, we have planned our meals (lunch & dinner’s) a week in advance. We do not include breakfast in this process as we usually eat the same thing every morning (Granola & fresh fruit) except for the weekend which is either pancakes, avocado toasts or scrambled eggs.

Usually on a Sunday (Occasionally on a Saturday) we will sit down to plan out what we will eat for the following week.

We like to make the process as enjoyable as possible. We carve out 30 to 50min in the morning on a Sunday to dedicate the time to the planning. By dedicating this time, we can just focus on the one task and not get distracted by other activities. We like to make a pot of tea and have a nice snack during this process.

Generally, we use 2 methods:

  1. Look through our cookbooks for ideas for lunch and dinner or
  2. Look up our favorite vegetarian YouTube channels and bloggers

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We like to eat a balanced diet full of vegetables and plant-based protein. For each meal we want to ensure we have enough of whole grains, protein and vegetables to keep us nourished and full of energy throughout the day.

If we choose a larger meal for lunch, we will have a lighter evening meal, or if our lunch is lighter, we will have a larger evening meal.

We usually choose 2 lunch options and 2 dinner options for one week (Monday to Friday), weekends are open to whatever we feel like on the day or if we want to treat ourselves out to lunch or dinner. 😉

After we have chosen our meals, we will create a list of all the ingredients we need. Once the list is created, we ensure we have none of the ingredients in our cupboards or fridge (usually we have salt, pepper, spices, herbs, olive oil and condiments in stock) If there are any items on the list, we have we will cross them out before going shopping.

On our fridge we have a white board which we list any items we ran out of or are low on for that week e.g. toilet roll, soap, apples, deodorant etc. All of these are now added to our list.

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Before going to the grocery store, we will ensure to bring our reusable shopping bags and smaller produce bags. We will pop our list and a pen into the bags also.

At the grocery store we will buy only what is on our list which is basically a week’s worth of groceries. Any items we can buy in bulk we prefer and we try and steer away from packaging as much as we can. This time of year, though it is really hard to find berries without packaging.

The list prevents us from picking up unnecessary items and spending money on items we do not need. By making our own breakfast, lunch & dinner we don’t have to spend money every day eating out, which can add up very quickly. We bring our own tea mugs to work so we do not have to buy take-out tea’s during the week.

Once we have the groceries bought, we will bring them home and put them away. Later that Sunday we will prepare the first option for lunch on Monday, sometimes we might do this on a Monday morning before work if Sunday gets too busy. Monday evening, we will prepare the dinner for the next couple of nights. We never spend more than an hour preparing and cooking each meal.

We usually prepare the other options for lunch & dinner on a Wednesday evening or a Thursday morning.

We love food, having healthy delicious options for our meals is important to us. However, the idea of cooking every day is too much and besides we want to have spare time in our evenings to do other activities.

In total we will spend 4 hours max cooking each week (Mon-Sun) with 30-50min planning our meals.

The pro’s to meal planning are:

  • Creating time & space in the evenings to do other activities
  • Avoiding decision fatigue every evening to decide on what to eat
  • Keeping your shopping within budget
  • Saving money from not eating out for lunch & dinner
  • Having a balanced diet
  • Reducing food waste
  • Prevents impulse shopping
  • Avoiding eating unhealthy fast options to curb hunger as food is always prepped & stored in fridge

We highly recommend planning your meals in advance. Especially for those evenings when you come home from work exhausted, the idea of just heating up a yummy meal is so comforting. The temptation to order take-out is eliminated saving you from all the unnecessary calories and keeps your money in your pocket😉

Please leave your comments below & any suggestions you have on meal planning.

Have a great week.

Chat soon,

Theresa

 

Patience: There Are People Who Stand And There Are People Who Sit

You may have recently read my blog on our trip to Argentina. Nobody likes airports. At least I don’t anyway. It is the same thing every time. We check in, go through security and then wait at the gate while watching a bit of Netflix or reading (Or in Theresa’s case, almost having a heart seizure watching Extras).

Then, the same thing happens, no matter what part of the world we are in or what time of the year it is. 90% of the passengers line up and spend around 40 minutes waiting in line to get onto the flight. The seats are always reserved, we have a specific seat number which nobody can take and yet we line up regardless. The plane will not leave any sooner nor will we get a more comfortable seat by lining up.

Is it FOMO. Do we have a fear of missing out on the optimum seat or baggage spaces?

Is this because of impatience?

Columbia University Professor David Maister argues that “occupied time feels shorter than unoccupied time.” In other words, people like to feel they are being productive when they are waiting in line for something. It would be far more productive to take a seat and actually get some work done rather than standing in line. I believe the subconscious thinking is that we are advancing our immediate goal of getting on the plane.

We are also influenced by other people. This is called the herd mentality where we follow the majority or in some cases not even the majority, just the first ones to make the move. Studies have shown that as little as five people can influence a crowd of 100 to follow suit.

Waiting is frustrating and demoralizing. So why do it? Why wait in line when we can have a comfortable (as comfortable as airport chairs get) seat and board at our leisure?

Maybe the answer is a simple as boredom. A watched pot never boils. Those of us waiting in line at the gate feel like we are watching the pot and that standing in line is moving things along somewhat. Occupying the time, so to speak.

This seems like a lack of patience on our part. I wonder was this always the case? Did we line up for planes in the 1950’s even if we were guaranteed one particular seat on the plane, or is this a knock on effect of today’s society in which instant gratification is the norm so we subconsciously expect instant boarding?

Modern cultural norms like text messaging, Amazon delivery, the afore mentioned Netflix have changed the way we think. We want everything now, but the more we are made to wait, the better we become at it. Or at least that is what one would believe. But the truth is we never willingly wait for anything. Everything is instant, so we expect everything now. Our objective must come to us in a hurry and if that is not going to happen then we will go to our objective in a hurry.

In this case, the aeroplane is there, we must get on.

We cannot wait for anything anymore. It is all about short term success. But in my opinion we need to slow down…..and……… s … t … o … p ….

We need to listen to ourselves. We need to listen to our bodies, our sub consciousness, our needs and our troubles.

The aeroplane is simply an analogy for how we hurry through life these days. We need to take stock of where we are and actually stay in the present moment, rather than letting our minds race ahead to the plane when boarding has not even begun.

It is this quick, immediate, instant mentality that pulls us to the line up. It is not our desire to board the plane, rather it is the fact that our mind is already ahead of us to a completely different destination.

Do not confuse this with thinking ahead. Planning is one thing but letting our minds wander so far ahead that we try to (metaphorically) push through doors that are not even open is another thing.

We have our best ideas when we stop. Have you ever allowed yourself to get bored? That is when things really start to happen in the mind. That is when the mind starts to find some breathing space and work out the kinks that we have buried so deep in our efforts to be somewhere else that they have been forgotten.

Impatience not only takes us away from the present moment, it also takes us away from ourselves and from each other. Impatience kills relationships.

Would life permit us to count to ten before we made every decision? Things would slow down that’s for sure but is that so bad? Is it so bad to have to actually sit at home on the couch and let the mind wander rather than having Ricky Gervais at the touch of a button to make us piss ourselves with laughter?

I watch my fair share of Netflix, but maybe we should think about pressing the pause button a little more and allow the mind to take a breather. I can’t remember the last time I sat in silence (apart from meditation) with no book, no TV, no phone, no stimulation. Maybe I should practise what I preach.

I watched a TED Talk today from a man named Albert “Key Lay” Keys. Albert is paralysed, in a wheel chair. The chair thought him patience and wisdom it seems. He tells us that “patience is the thin line between an argument and an intelligent debate. If we can be patient with ourselves, it is only then that we can be patient with others.”

So, maybe since it’s Christmas time, let’s see if we can actually slow down, rather than speed up like we usually do at this time of the year. Let’s take the time to sit in silence and ignore the honking horns, the frantic shopping needs and the jam packed parking lots.

Let’s stop and just soak it in. Feel what’s happening. Feel the goodwill, and if we can’t feel it we can create it.

Let’s start by stopping.

Peace,

George

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We’ve Got Class

You’re at a party and someone asks “what do you do?” This question will always come up as a conversation starter, but why, and what do they mean?

I think people genuinely ask to make conversation. The question they are looking for an answer to is “what you do for a living?”

Even when the question is posed innocently, the answer can bring judgment. I prefer to be vague about my day job simply because it is the last thing I want to talk about when I’m not in work.

It is a question I personally try to avoid asking. Yes, it is an easy fall back when you are feeling awkward or you are not sure what to talk about. But it’s also easy to ask “what do you do for fun?” or “what do you do in your spare time?”

I love people and I love talking to people, but I really want to know about the person, rather than how they earn a living. That is not what defines a person. There is so much more to us than how we earn our keep but that can define us from other people’s perspectives as they draw conclusions on our interests, earnings, class, etc.

Class. What is class anyway?

It depends on how you look at it.

Class as a noun can be defined as:

“The system of ordering a society in which people are divided into sets based on perceived social or economic status.”

Do we judge people based on their class? Do we decide to be friends with people based on their class? Yes, I think we do.

I have had people from backgrounds of great wealth and status accept me and welcome me with open arms and I have had people look down on me and keep their distance due to what, I assume, they perceived as a difference in status.

On the other spectrum, I have shared meals with people who make less than a dollar a day and they treated me like they would treat any other person.

Why is that?

We often hear the terms upper, lower and middle class.

What is lower class? Lower suggests inferior but we must be careful with the words we use as there is great power in words. Right speech is an important thing. When we use the term lower class we infer inferiority but this is not correct. Lower class or working class does not mean inferior class.

There is nothing inferior about someone who does not have opportunities like education, for example. This doesn’t make them inferior. It means they have a tougher life because it will be more difficult to support themselves and get a job that pays enough to support their family. They may not be able to afford to send their children to college or  even afford the food to keep their family healthy.

It doesn’t mean they are inferior but means their opportunities will be fewer and their lives will be tougher. Because of grit and strength this is something that people can overcome but it will be a more difficult path than that of somebody from “higher class.”

In my opinion, the terms; upper, lower and middle are outdated. These classes are simply different. There is no higher or lower, better or worse. Higher and lower opportunity maybe.

As I mentioned, there is power in words and the above terms are outdated to me. Maybe phrases like the following would be more acceptable:

  • Limited social / economic opportunity
  • Intermediary social / economic opportunity
  • Established social / economic opportunity

Another definition I found for class was:

“Stylishness in appearance or behavior” or “showing stylish excellence”

I would like to think that people with Limited social and economic opportunities are folks that show their “stylish excellence,” in a different way. A stronger way, with more grit and determination than any of the rest of have been given the opportunity to dig deep enough to find.

Peace,

George

 

Autumn: Our Favorite Season, Hygge is back!

We love Autumn so much. Its our favorite season. The reds, browns and burnt orange colors are so warm and comforting. The crisp mornings and longer cozier evenings are very Hygge, pronounced “hoo-ga”.

What is Hygge? It’s a term the Danish have for describing that warm, cozy, content feeling aroused by simple comforts. A very Hygge scene would be by a fire, with woolly socks on, reading a book and drinking a hot chocolate spiked with baileys or whiskey😉

Autumn is our Hygge season. It’s the time of the year we begin to socialize more with our friends. We usually go back to visit our family in October too. We find summers busy and don’t get to see our friends or family all that much.

Fall is our time to reconnect and enjoy home cooked meals with friends. We both have really improved our cooking skills over the past few years and really enjoy entertaining and making our home as comfortable as possible for our guests.

It’s the time of year that life slows down after the hectic summers and before the craziness leading to Christmas. It’s a perfect time to reconnect & recharge.

We restart our Eco nights this time of year too. On Wednesdays we turn off all the lights, light candles, read books and ban screens for one night. It is glorious. We sometimes play a boardgame or I fall asleep by 8:00pm! It’s a night to fully relax and avoid external stimulation of any kind. Bliss.

During this time of the year we always get back on track with our healthy eating and exercise. The weather is usually fresh, and we want to be outside as much as possible. Being from Ireland the cooler temperature suits us better than the heat of the Vancouver summers. Phew!

Going home probably is a big reason why we love this time of year too. The excitement and lead up to our trip back to Ireland is always the highlight of our year. The weather at home is usually frosty mornings with clear blue skies. The tress are a pallet of Autumn shades which is a lovely contrast to the green fields all around.

The food is also a highlight! Pumpkin pie, roasted vegetables, chai tea, soups, porridge, apple pie, stuffing, cranberry sauce & roasted spuds! Thanksgiving dinner basically! Another reason to love Autumn. We usually have friends over who don’t have family here and we all celebrate together as one.

We buy a lot more candles this time of the year. We like to light them in the darker mornings at breakfast and during dinner in the evenings. We are not a fan of scented candles just plain unscented. The lighter throws on our sofa are replaced with heavier blankets for chilly evenings. The big duvet is taken out of storage and returned to our bed. The hot water bottle returns! We love our room cold, we keep our windows open all year round but keep the bed warm with the hot water bottle. Oh yeah!

Honestly warm fuzzy feeling galore for this time of the year! HYGGE! Love love love! Definitely our comfort zone…. bring on warm cozy layers and coats! Autumn we are ready and will embrace every moment.

Are you as excited as we are about Autumn? What is Autumn to you?

I hope you all had a great week😊

Speak soon,

Theresa x

Grin And Bear It: Why Smiling Has A Positive Impact On Our Lives

There are a few things in life I chase, things I crave which are important to me. A good sleep. I forever search for the best sleep and I try to perfect it like an art.

The true self is another thing I strive for. I have written about this several times now.

Calmness, within and without is another of my goals. A destination I journey towards. I am interested in the effects a calm mind has on my life and my personality and the opposite also, for instance, I find I am quick to grind my teeth when I become angry. The effect of this simple act is amazing and lasting. Even as I write this I feel the urge to grit my teeth together and press. Even the thoughts of this act suggest anger in my mind.

“Facial feedback response,” Darwin called it. Your brains reaction to your facial expression.

Anger = Grit Teeth

Grit Teeth = Anger

On a more positive note, the opposite is also true. As you read, smile broadly, Bring the smile into your eye muscles also. Keep it there. It doesn’t matter if it is fake or forced, do it anyway……….Hold it……..Now relax.

How do you feel?

Your brain, through Darwins facial feedback has recognized that you are smiling and boosted your endorphins (happy chemicals) and reduced your cortozol (stress chemicals). You feel better. It is the cheapest therapy available and as a Yoga teacher it is probably one of the easiest but most beneficial poses I could teach. I intend to bring smiling into my classes and will keep you updated.

Thich Nhat Hanh said “Sometimes the joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” Force the smile. Grin and bear it.

Why shouldn’t we smile? For one thing we are alive. A quarter of a million people die every day. Sadhguru tells us, everytime we look at our watch and check the time we should be grateful we are alive as our lives are ticking away. If a quarter of a million people die every day then two or three million people loose a loved one every day. If this hasn’t happened today, then smile.

Research has shown that a smile can stimulate us as much as 2,000 bars of chocolate. It reduces stress and blood ressure, enhaces our good mood and according to Penn State University, allows us to be perceived by others as being more competent.

Mother Theresa once said, “I will never understand the good that a simple smile can accomplish.”

Smiles are free. If you don’t have change to give the homeless man outside Wholefoods or even if you don’t want to part with your hard earned cash, a smile is free and easy. It helps, it is contageious and there is a limitless supply.

So the next time you are in a bad mood or stuck in traffic or having a difficult day, fake it till you make it. Plaster a big fake smile on your face, getting right into the eye muscles and hold it as long as you can.

See what happens.

Let me know.

Peace,

George