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Do you need greater work-life balance?

A survey put forth by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics reported that we spend approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes daily on food prep and clean-up.

I find that interesting for several reasons because here in our home we focus on healthy eating, no fast-food, and sitting down for meals as a family as often as possible and in our case, this takes much more time than a measly 1 hour and 15 minutes; in reality it is closer to two hours.

Many Americans, and people all over the world, are turning to convenient, high calorie, low nutrition food as solution to saving time and with global obesity rates rising, this is not a solution either.

Many families find weekdays hectic. Greater work-life balance seems like a pie-in-the-sky dream.

At our home right now, in addition to two businesses we run, we have a child in cross country and ACT prep; another in theatre, cross country, speech and debate; and our youngest in chess, yoga, and swimming.

After school, Chris and I are more like school bus drivers than anything else. Greater work-life balance sometimes seems virtually impossible…

In our family, we have also committed to eating together at least five nights per week. This means that sometimes we eat at four thirty and sometimes we eat at seven.

We also realize that this time in our lives is very precious. After sending one of the kids off to university and another who just had a baby, we want to create a loving, healthy home. A home based on greater work-life balance… where the kids know that sitting down and being anchored at mealtimes is a priority.

This level of commitment isn’t always easy and with that in mind, let me share three simple tips that we use in our home to reduce the time for meal prep and keep our family grounded and healthy.

1. Plan Meals the Week Before

As a speaker, I travel often. I do work to be home on Sunday’s as much as possible.

Sunday is my day to re-set and get organized for the week. Chris and I go for a run, head to church and spend time with the kids.

We also plan the next week of meals. After we have a plan, I head to the grocery store.

Multiple trips to the store is a waste of my time so I like to do a ‘one and done.’

We like to have balanced meals for the kids – think protein, a healthy carb (like the organic brown basmati rice shown here), and two to three different vegetables. Like many families, we have some fairly consistent staples on the menu and save the gourmet fare for weekends when we have more time.


2. Prep Vegetables on Sunday

Our kids love raw vegetables. I know, that may sound crazy, and I would love to tell you that we did something special for that to be the case however it just happened.

Their favorites are organic bell peppers, celery, and carrots. I like to pour a glass of wine, turn on the football game and prep the vegetables.

We use glass containers for storage and I do 3-4 days worth at a time. This means that at meal time we just take the container out of the fridge and put it on the table.


3. Embrace Leftovers

I grew up in a house where leftovers were more enticing than any other meal. At least one day per week we looked at whatever was in the fridge and created a buffet.

Chris and I cook enough on Sunday to also support Monday’s meal. On Tuesday we cook enough for Wednesday. This means that out of four days, we only cook for two.

We store our food in glass so that we can go from fridge to over in one swoop.

In this photo is a chicken dish I prepared. I made a sauce, put it over the organic chicken breasts and cooked it in the over for forty-five minutes while I did some work in my office.

The prep time was only about seven minutes and I managed to get several things done during this time.

Lastly, the more time we can save doing our day-to-day tasks, the more time we create to do the things we love. I wish you every success with time saving techniques.

If you have a healthy recipe that you wish to share, something that can be whipped up in a short time, send it over to us and we will re-post. Please send photos.

Go out there and rock it!


Susan Sly is a best-selling author, speaker, trainer and entrepreneur.  She specializes in helping individuals, and organizations, become more productive.  She resides in Scottsdale, Arizona with her husband, Chris.  Susan is the mother of five children and loves her life! To connect with Susan, visit




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