Top 10 Fast Foods (When I’m out of Options on the Road)

Things don’t always go as planned, and there is always less time than we hoped we would have. Sometimes we are just plain lazy! I definitely have had my days. Surprisingly, I’m least motivated to cook on days when I have had to do grocery shopping. No idea why this is the case, but it does feel like I have earned a night off from the kitchen!

If you’re out all day and you still have a million errands left, it really is not better to starve. What’s best is to give your body the highest quality fuel money and time will afford you. I know personally on those long flight delays I feel I am being held hostage at the airport. Isn’t there ever anything else besides bagels, bruised apples, and chicken caesar salads?! Below is my list of foods that I eat on lazy busy days. Don’t worry– I’ve included non-vegetarian options!

(Click the image for a larger view)

Group Dining Etiquette

Whether we like it or not, eating out in groups is an inevitable circumstance. It happens when we have reunions, birthday celebrations, or happy hour after work. For many, the experience is rather pleasant. If you know everyone in the group, there is hardly an uncomfortable discussion about how the bill will be handled. In fact, if you’ve known the friends for years, it probably doesn’t much matter because as often as you eat out together, it sort of evens out. But, what about those times when you hardly know anyone? What happens when you ordered only one $8 drink and someone suggests you split the bill evenly sticking you with a $30 bill? It is difficult to be frugal when you’re thrown in with the bunch.

I often wonder, is it impolite to speak up? Thinking the best of people, my guess would be that splitting evenly is simply easier. The truth remains that someone is often left paying far more than they bargained for and if they didn’t bring cash, there is no easy way out of it.

What do you do?

I don’t know the right answer. I just know the advice I would give which would be not to pay exceedingly more than you bargained for, especially when you may not have it. Imagine that same scenario happening once a week at happy hour for a whole year. That would be roughly an extra $1000 lost! Let’s not get carried away, though.

I’ve come up with a few simple solutions and I’d like to hear from you, the readers which route you would choose. I think in life most things are about balance. I believe we can use our best judgment and know there are times when it’s best to just pay up and not to bother looking back at the overspending. Other times still, speaking up can prevent hard feelings later.

Group Dining Solutions

1. Bring cash. When dividing evenly is suggested, offer what you would fairly be charged included tax and group gratuity.

2. Provided that you know all of the guests, quietly tell the person who may not have put in enough cash that they may have miscalculated. Offer them a second chance to look over the bill and help them calculate accurately.

3. Be the money organizer. Offer to help everyone calculate tax and tip for their portion of the bill.

4. Ask the waiter or waitress if separate checks are possible, and if not if the group can be broken into smaller groups of 4 or 5.

5. Opt out. You may not be able to justify missing a friend’s birthday party– or so you would think. If the group setting just won’t work for your budget, offer to meet them for dessert or coffee another day. Another option is to drop by and socialize briefly without ordering dinner.

I realize that money matters often make for awkward situations. I too have felt this when dining out in a large group. Part of maturity is learning how to use tact to respectfully speak up when something is not right. It may be about more than just principle when it comes to overpaying on a dinner tab.

Comment below and let me know what you think!



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A Season of Giving

Right now you have plenty and can help those who are in need. Later, they will have plenty and can share with you when you need it. In this way, things will be equal. ( 2 Corin 8:14, NLT)

That verse came to mind this morning as I cleaned out my closet. It may not be Spring cleaning time, but I recognized I had more than enough things and I really hate the clutter. I was recently reading a post on Rhiannon Duffin’s blog and became inspired to really play hardball with getting rid of clothing I do not wear. The tough thing is that there are a ton of clothes I don’t wear, but they are still nice. I’ve talked myself into keeping them because I remember the price I paid and what store I bought them from, or who gifted them to me. I was basically justifying the clutter around me. I have two filled closets, under bed storage, and space organizers heaped with clothes. This is not something to be proud of– it’s really quite silly. What is the point of having plenty if I do not use it?

I thought about some of the clothing that still has the tags, or work clothing that no longer fits. Somewhere (likely somewhere nearby), there is a woman who could use a new dress, or a pair of pants to wear to an interview for a job that will feed her family. That’s when I got the cleaning bug. What other things do I have in excess that I can share? Food? Office supplies? It really is rather freeing to just get rid of things.

Sometimes I wish for more in life, when I haven’t even been diligent enough to clear out the old. I remember fights with my mom in grade school every August. I would say I needed new school clothes, she would say she would not purchase so much as a sock until I got rid of the clothes that no longer fit. This standoff never resulted in me winning, and she was right. Why would she reward me with new clothing when I was still holding onto the old?

Many of us look around at our home decor, and may have things we still want. I am definitely guilty of this. In the interim, getting rid of clutter can make a home look more “together” and it can also reveal opportunities for creativity which may have otherwise not been recognized. Freeing up new space makes room for home DIY projects, and the chance to rearrange furniture.

A few tips….

1. When going out of town, think of a neighbor or friend you can give extra food to instead of letting it spoil in your fridge.

2. Share your bulk items.

3. Get rid of clothing that hasn’t been worn in over a year and develop a good storage system for seasonal clothing items– and I don’t mean those HORRID novelty Christmas sweaters. You can throw those away!

4. Have clothing swap parties. Invite friends over for brunch and trade. Give the rest to charity.

5. Cook what you buy. Sometimes it’s tempting to eat out when  you have had a long day. If this becomes a habit, you could be allowing good food to spoil as you burn a little hole in your wallet.

6. Make it a habit to routinely check for things to get rid of in closets, freezers, the fridge, the trunk of your car, etc.

When I don’t think I have much at all, my reminder is to give from the areas of my life where I do have plenty. Although we don’t give to get, it always works that the most generous people always have more than enough. I think we get into the spirit of Christmas and are inspired to help those in need, but there are many who need help long before Christmas and long after. So I propose new a season of giving–one that lasts all year long.

3 Easy Gym Tips

Staying fit and keeping active for many is no easy feat. With work, children, travel, and catching up with friends and loved ones– it is sometimes hard to lock down a set schedule to head to the gym or get outdoors and be active. An active lifestyle helps relieve stress and maintain weight, but it works best in conjunction with a nutritious diet and plenty of rest. When I think of all the reasons I have skipped physical fitness, it mostly comes back to being tired or being too hungry. To remedy this, I have learned to snack. Snacking between meals should not be out of boredom, but out of purpose. It should hold a person over till their next meal, and it can also fuel a person before a tough workout. In these summer months, I will periodically blog about easy snack ideas so that we can all stay on track with our fitness goals. Here are a few things that consistently keep me feeling energized and light and ready to tackle a tough workout:

3 Easy Gym Tips
1.Smoothies and shakes:Add protein powder, fruit and any green and you instantly have a high protein, low calorie drink that helps you stay on track with your daily fruit and vegetable intake. Click here for a great shake recipe.

2. Nuts: You need only a small handful to provide you with fuel from protein and fat. These are very easy to store in the office or in your gym bag for emergencies.Does anyone else get cranky when they are hungry??

3. Water: spend a little money on a good refillable water container. It’s worth it. If you are feeling thirsty, you are probably already a little dehydrated!
4. Greek yogurt: Low calorie, high protein, and delicious.
5. Berries: These are full of antioxidants and they are brain food. If you are sharp and alert, you will have the mental power to PUSH during your workout!

Here is a link to my video pertaining to fitness and food tips:

QuickTip #5| 21 Seasoning Salute

What is this 21 Seasoning Salute I hear so much about, you ask?

21 Seasoning is exactly like it sounds– a blend of 21 spices and natural ingredients. It is salt free, but very flavorful. With a dry blend of onion, basil, bay leaf, oil of lemon, mustard and cumin (to name a few), you have the power to bring out flavor, and create flavor, without salt. Rice, dry rubs, poultry and more can all be tastier and healthier with this seasoning blend. You can still use salt, but the power of this blend is that you will need significantly less. 21 Seasoning Salute can be  purchased for $1.99 at Trader Joe’s, but there are other brands such as Mrs. Dash, Magic Salt-Free Seasoning, Kirkland Signature No-Salt Seasoning, etc. that provide the same benefit as 21 Seasoning. If you have your long term health in mind, buying one of these substitutes is the responsible thing to do. A diet that is lower in sodium is a great contribution to a healthier body.

Quick Tip #4 Fruit Salad

Fruit salads can be done in many different ways and when served chilled, they are a refreshing way to offset the summer heat. Carefully choose fresh, firm and unblemised fruit for chopping up into your salad. Toss in mint leaves for a fun touch (and lots of zing) and use a citrus juice of your choice– I like to use the juice of 1/4 an orange. Not only does this keep the fruit from browning, but it adds a surprising accent to the other flavors.

Quick Tip #3: Chips & Dips

Chips and dips are completely addicting and usually easy to find on tables at parties and work potlucks.  Unfortunately, the thing that tickles our taste buds most does little more than fill us up with empty calories that give very little nutritional value. Since the chips aren’t portioned onto a plate, we really have no idea how many we have eaten! I find myself looking at the nutritional information on the bag and saying, “9 chips is a serving? Seriously?!”  But really,  who can resist those warm, freshly made tortilla chips at Mexican restaurants? The key is to place them onto a plate and if the portion is larger than can fit in your hand– you are in violation. My trick at parties is to portion out the dip on my plate and stop when the dip has run out. Another trick is to use flavorful crisp veggies in place of chips. My favorite for hummus is large strips of bell pepper or sugar snapped peas. Salsa is healthy so I load up on the salsa and go easy on the chips.

Quick Tip #2: Easy Salad Dressing

Salad dressing can be whisked together in 2 minutes or less when you have good base ingredients. I am a huge fan of the vinaigrettes, & as you read in my previous blog  (10 Great Pantry Items), there are certain things you should always stock in your pantry. For salad dressings it is good to have oil, vinegar, sea salt, pepper, & some type of citrus juice. Get creative! Some really good vinegars I like to use are balsamic,  red wine & apple cider vinegar. For oils, it all depends on your ingredients. Extra virgin olive oil and sesame oil are what I use most. I always use about 2 parts oil and 1 part vinegar. Vinegar can have a lot of bite and balsamic specifically can really overpower the flavor of everything else you are eating. You really only need a splash of balsamic!

Ex: Making grilled salmon fillets? Mix sesame oil, rice vinegar & sesame seeds to drizzle over a bed of spinach and red onions with your salmon.