#SheInspires | Michelle Jones: “On Really Tough Days I Need To Write In My Journal”

I just met Michelle recently (as in, she retweeted some of my links, I checked out her blog and instantly became a fan). She is due with her second child any day now and she also has an 11-month-old who keeps her on her toes. I love her blog, BlackZenMama, and everything it represents. I’m sure you’ll dig Michelle just as much as I do.

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Name: Michelle Jones
Age: 24
Kids: Two girls/ A one-year old and I’m due with my second child late July 2014
Whenever I have a moment of free time I look forward to… a nap or a long, hot shower (my bathroom is sorta like my sanctuary!)
My mommy superpower is…. preparing her favorite meals/snacks
On really tough days I… need to write in my journal. It’s one of the best ways I can clear my thoughts and truly relax.
My kids inspire me to…. challenge myself. I want them to say one day “Wow, mama you actually did THAT?”
One thing I miss from my pre-Mommy life is….going out late-night randomly with my husband. Seriously, we would hop in our car just to go get a sundae from Sonic around 11 at night! Fun Times!
The thing that scares me the most about motherhood is….losing my children physically. I suffered many female complications (including a miscarriage) before I was able to successfully conceive so the thought of losing them still lingers around from time to time.
The thing that excites me the most about motherhood is….watching them experience life.
I know for sure I’m passionate about...my family. I care so much about their well-being more than my own at times. I always want to see them happy and enthusiastic about life. 
If my kids can only remember one thing I teach them, I hope it’s...to never stop evolving in life
I feel like a great mom when….my daughter bounces up and down laughing hysterically from a silly face or sound I made.
My personal motto is…..always be present in the moment and enjoy every part of it.
One thing that would make motherhood easier is if….I had a clone.

 

 

 

 

Why I Make My Kids Go To Bed Every Night At 7 P.M.

My aunt has lived in Texas for the majority of my life, whereas I have always lived in Ohio. This means I don’t see her much and our in-person communication is pretty much limited to holidays and special events like weddings.

Once, she was in town for just a random visit and wanted to come by and see me and the kids. But she didn’t, because it was 7 p.m. and she knew (everyone knew) that at 7 p.m., my house shuts down and it’s time for my kids to go to bed.

“I didn’t want to mess up your routine,” she told me. “They told me how you are about bedtime!”

She wasn’t lying. For the first five years of my children’s life, I have been anal about bedtime. At first, it was just so they could get the recommended 11 hours of sleep a night that my pediatrician kept bugging me about. The clock hit 7 and without much fuss, my kids would stop playing their games and head upstairs to begin their bedtime routine. As they’ve gotten older, I’ve become a little more relaxed and let them play until 7:30.

This summer, I relaxed a bit and let them go to sleep much later – like 9 p.m. I’d make them brush their teeth and put on pajamas but they could play in their room until they felt like going to sleep.

Big mistake.

Instead of having that downtime to relax and do whatever I wanted, I was still on “Mommy Duty.” And since my kids get up at 6 a.m. no matter what time they go to bed, I was inevitably losing three hours of “me-time” a day. And that’s no good.

Putting my kids to bed at a regular time was good for everybody. For my kids, who needed their rest. For my stress levels, which needed to come down a bit after a day full of “mommying.” For my husband, who would like to talk to his wife without kids’ elbows and requests in the way.

So now I’m back to the regular bedtime – I don’t care if it’s summer or not. And even two days into it, I feel less stress and my kids are happier in the mornings because they’re not as tired. Don’t be afraid to experiment in your family with what works best for you. You set the tone. You make the rules.

What about you? Do your kids have a regular bedtime – even in the summer?

How Do I Sustain My Life As A Blogger When My Life Bores Me To Tears?

For those who are faithful readers, you might notice the frequency of my posts have been hit or miss this summer. I’ve been dealing with my daughter’s health issues and the stress that comes with having the kids out of school, with a husband working long hours. After finally pinpointing the problem, the medicines my daughter is taking necessitates us staying close to home so it just feels like one loooong day. (Thankfully, she is doing much, much better after only one week on the medication.)

Sometimes I look back at my archives like, “How did I manage to write nearly 1,500 posts for this site when my day-to-day life is so BORING?” I’ve been dying to do a day-in-the-life video of my life as a blogger, but 360 days a year, my life is probably more boring than yours.

I wake up. I take care of my kids. I make breakfast. I write. I take them to school. I write. I pick them up from school. I write. I make dinner. Occasionally I make it to the gym. Yawn.

The truth is, I’m not living life to the fullest. Not yet. I think it’s slight PTSD from my unplanned pregnancy, when my life was flipped upside down and I found myself pregnant, poor, and unwed. I never ever wanted to feel that caught off-guard again. So I began to approach everything from a “What if?” perspective and I’m always guarding against a worst-case scenario.

I don’t go out because I want to save money. I don’t buy clothes because I want to save money. I don’t paint my nails or get my hair professionally done because I want to save money. I don’t do a lot of things normal people do because I’m always scared something big will happen and I won’t have the money to pay for it because I spent that $5 last week at Subway. (I have a very unhealthy relationship with money.)

But sometimes…you have to spend a little bit of money to have fun. I’m giving myself permission to loosen up the purse strings and allow myself to treat myself to something new or a new experience every once in a while. I’m an adult. It’s time I start living like one.

I feel like I’m half-assing it in my personal life. I work 60+ hours a week building my career, but I give myself absolutely no down time to explore some of my other interests. Lately I’ve been feeling the urge to paint, or to build something with my hands, or to learn to play an instrument. I know I have a lot to offer the world with my creativity, my integrity and my vision, but I’ve been stagnant. I want to have that fabulous adult life I’ve been dreaming about since I was a little girl. I’m nearing 30 and it’s becoming so clear that I want more for my life. I love this space I’ve carved out online, but how can I continue here if there is nothing going on with me other than brainstorming things to write? I have to actually do things, not just write about doing things.

I’ve got work to do. Who’s joining me?

#SheInspires | Natasha Vianna: “Being A Young Mother Doesn’t Mean You Have To Give Up Your Youth”

I don’t even remember when I first met Natasha but I’m glad I did. Over the past several years she has been outspoken about everything that matters – equality, reproductive rights, respect for teen parents and more. She is one of my idols and I’m thrilled to salute her in this #SheInspires series:

Natasha Vianna

Name: Natasha Vianna

Age: 26

Kids: 1 daughter, 8 years old

Twitter: twitter.com/natashavianna

Whenever I have a moment of free time I look forward to… reading. I recently finished Janet Mock’s book, Redefining Realness, and have been really reflecting on how a book can have such a great impact on my life. As a young mom, I think I so often looked for tasks to complete during free time but rarely focused on personal growth and emotional well-being. Books allow me to escape from current reality and travel into a place where my mind is nourished and stress fades away.

My mommy superpower is… being able to quickly and creatively craft a backup plan. There’s no such thing as bad news when it comes to changing plans with your child. So if something doesn’t go as planned, or it starts raining, or you realize you left your wallet in your other purse, there’s always an, “I have an awesome new idea” moment that makes me feel like I can take on the world.

On really tough days I… take naps. I wish I had something more motivating to say but naps can really change how I proceed through the rest of my entire day.

The thing that scares me the most about motherhood is… that you’re constantly feeling like you have to tip toe around situations that may bring judgment. Motherhood, especially young motherhood, isn’t seen as something women grow into or learn how to master so we’re left with stares and comments and unnecessary parenting tips from strangers in a grocery store. It scares me that our society doesn’t recognize and value women and mothers for their courage, creativity, and strength.

The thing that excites me the most about motherhood is… that I get to support, love, and nurture someone who will do the same for others someday. I have spent a lot of my time thinking about how the world can be a scary place and I’ve reflected a lot on the way so many people treated me. In a strange way, those negative experiences helped mold my plan to raise an empathetic and sensitive child who would go on to teach others the same.

I know for sure I’m passionate about… young mothers’ rights because, like Tara, I know how hard it is to parent young and how much harder it is when people feel the urge to shame you for your choices. Having given birth at 17, people have often dehumanized my daughter and labeled her as a public health issue or reduced her to one of the negative consequences of unsafe sex. My life and her life are often politicized and used as either examples or exceptions, but we were and are rarely seen as humans. This is why I partnered with 6 other amazing young mothers across the country to launch #NoTeenShame, a campaign raising awareness on the unnecessary stigmatization of teen parents in teen pregnancy prevention strategies.

If my daughter can only remember one thing I teach her, I hope it’s… the impact of love and respect. I was raised on tough love and the idea that children are not respected as experts on their own lives, and I do my best to challenge that and meet her in a safe middle ground. My hope is that as she moves on into adolescence and adulthood, she remembers the value of love and respect in how she engages with and interacts with people.

I feel like a great mom when… my daughter finds the strength to call me out on the things I need to work on. There are times when I’m stressed out and not giving her the attention she needs and she’ll just hold both of my hands, look into my eyes, and ask me if I need to take some deep breaths with her. Sometimes I smile and sometimes it makes me upset, but knowing that she has learned that responding in a loving way makes me feel like she will be such a great friend to so many people. Another time, I was super upset because her father was canceling another visitation weekend with her and had a hard time hiding my anger towards him. She hugged me and told me that while he was disappointing her, he was not hurting her and that her disappointment was not a burden I needed to carry. Yes, I almost cried.

My personal motto is... Being a young motherhood doesn’t mean you have to give up your youth. Your youthfulness is what will make this experience even greater! When we don’t fall into society’s expectations of what a mother needs to be or look like, I think we often beat ourselves up and try to meet those standards. As a teen mom, I thought that being a good mother meant acting more mature and being less goofy but that didn’t last long. Our goofiness is what got us through some difficult times.

One thing that would make motherhood easier is if... our society respected mothers in the workplace. I’m lucky to have a job where my boss understands when things just don’t go as planned and I never worry that my future in this role will be negatively impacted by these issues. While all mothers deserve this kind of understanding, not all will have this peace of mind.

No, Honey: You Don’t Need A “Beat Face” To Face The World

I very rarely wear a full face of makeup. Growing up, my mom stressed the importance of maintaining your natural beauty and she discouraged me from playing in makeup for fear that it would mess up my face. “You have beautiful skin,” she said. “Just wash it, moisturize, and drink your water.”

So that became my mantra. I went to an all-girls school so it  didn’t matter much. No one was checking for me in the hallways so why not walk around bare faced? I took all the money I would have spent on makeup and spent it on $25 undies at Victoria’s Secret. #SillyRabbit

By the time I got to college, I had thrown myself into my studies and into my extracurriculars so much that I didn’t spend much time partying or clubbing (the only two valid reasons why I would apply makeup). My makeup less streak continued.

When I got knocked up and decided to marry my daughter’s father, I went into Sephora to buy makeup for the wedding.

“What do you need?” one of the employees asked me.

“Um…” I look around the store. I want to say, “Everything,” but instead I say, “Foundation.”

She gets me to buy a $50 bottle of MakeupForever foundation that I’m not sure matched my skintone but whatever. Fun fact: Day of my wedding, the make-up artist looked at my foundation, tossed it to the side, and used the foundation she brought with her.

I’ve used that foundation exactly ONCE since I bought it in 2007 and this past weekend, after seeing it roll around in my drawer for a good five years unused, I tossed it.

WHAT IS MY POINT WITH ALL THIS BLABBING?

My point is that I feel increasingly in the minority here. The ranks of women in the “I Can And Do Leave The House Without Makeup” camp seem to be disappearing by the minute.

A simple search on YouTube can yield thousands of women (and men!) showing you how to apply your makeup and achieve that “beat face” look you see your favorite celeb rockin’. One vlogger, MakeupD0LL, has been criticized for her COMPLICATED  multi-multi-multi-step makeup/skincare regimens.

This make-up removal video (which I’m embedding here because I like her and am in no way trying to hate on her business she’s created for herself-she’s got skills!) is 10 minutes long and features no fewer than 15 products.

She’s got: 
Wipes
Oil cleanser
Oil-Free Cleanser with Clarisonic Mia 2
Clay Mask
Lip Care system (3 steps)
Toner
Acne Treatment
Three Separate Serums
Night cream/Eye cream

All I have to say is those YouTube checks must be NICE because honey, ain’t no way I’m spending that much on product. Y’all lucky if I wash my face four times a week with one regular cleanser. You know I use olive oil or raw shea butter on my face? Everything I put on my skin I can also cook with. #Multipurpose

I love a woman who can rock a bare face. It’s the most beautiful to me—acne blemishes, hyperpigmentation and all. But just like with everything else, the Internet is the great equalizer. Anyone with halfway decent DSL can get makeup tutorials from women who know how to rock those pencils and brushes! It’s a great time for makeup enthusiasts!

On the other hand, I feel like those women who dare to rock only minimal makeup or none at all are considered “brave.” What insane times we’re living in! It’s natural to want to look your best, but what if you “feel your best” when you are in your natural glory? What then?

Give me your opinion: Is a “beat face” your everyday look or only for special occasions? Does the amount of makeup a woman wears say anything about how she views herself?

 

[Open Thread] How Do You Get Involved In Your Child’s School?

teachers

I’m working with the insanely smart and dedicated women over at The Mission List to talk about a subject that is near and dear to my heart: education. Specifically, how YOU choose to get involved at your child’s school. I’m especially excited to get your feedback, because often the assumption is that young parents don’t care or don’t know how to get involved on behalf of their child’s education. But from what I’ve witnessed here, I know it’s not true.

  • How would you improve communication channels between parents and teachers/administrators at your child’s school?

My school does a decent job of reaching out to parents. Our principal is always out and about and if you come up to the school at any point during the day, you will run into her and she will greet you by name. There are newsletters and email listservs that keep you in the loop about upcoming events. Plus, each teacher my children have had is very good about returning phone calls and emails. At their school, I have no complaints.

Do you feel the same? Is there anything you would change about the communication at your child’s school?

  • What does it take to motivate you to advocate or take action on an educational issue (local, state, and/or national)?

After Sandy Hook, the local police department sent one officer to be stationed at each school during the school day. My daughter was terrified. One day as I was dropping her off, she started crying in the backseat, saying police officers had guns and that frightened her. I asked my daughter if anyone explained to her why she was seeing cops in the hallways. Surely they understood that students might need an explanation on why they know having armed police officers in the school. But no. There was no assembly, no announcement. Just show up to school and now there’s cops.

I had spoken to administrators and they agreed with my position. The next day there was an all-school assembly where the police officer assigned to the school spoke with the children and allowed them to ask questions. My daughter came home from school with a smile on her face and there were no more tears at drop off.

This is but a small example of advocacy, but I’d love to hear your stories. When have you had to advocate on behalf of your child’s education, whether it was a local, state, or national issue? 

She Inspires: Chaunie Brusie, Nurse + Young Parent Advocate

Back in 2012, I had a series that I ran on the blog called, “She Inspires!” I picked noteworthy women (aren’t we all?) to give YML readers a peek inside their lives. My goal with this was to give everyday mamas some shine and perhaps share a little bit of mommy wisdom amongst ourselves. I’m pleased to announce that it’s back and better than ever! Want to nominate someone for the series? Email me or send me a tweet with that person’s handle!  

notforprofit.com

Name: Chaunie Brusie
Age: 28
Kids: Two girls: 6,4,and my son: 2, and another little girl due in August :)
Blog/Business URLhttp://www.tinybluelines.com

Whenever I have a moment of free time I look forward to…

Reading! I’m a total bookworm at heart–always have been and always will be. I love reading actual books whenever I get the chance, which is usually late at night and in sacrifice of my other favorite thing–sleeping!

My mommy superpower is….

Staying one step ahead. I work from home, so it’s all about staying one step ahead to avoid major stressors in the day. That means laying out clothes, prepping food early on, and always having snacks on hand to avoid small people meltdowns!

On really tough days I…

Am not actually very grown-up about things, I have to admit. I tend to get super tired and cranky and even though rationally, I know I just need a good night’s sleep, I will sigh the martyred sigh of mothers everywhere until bedtime.

The thing that scares me the most about motherhood is….

The fact that someday, my children may sit around a table and hash out all of my flaws! It’s so hard being responsible for all these little lives when I know I am far from perfection myself. It’s easy to fool them when they are little, but when they are older? *shudder*

The thing that excites me the most about motherhood is….

Watching my children learn new things. I admit that I’m a blubber ball mom and have a hard time watching my kids grow up (and letting them grow!), but it helps to focus on knowing that there are so many exciting and wonderful things in the world that they can experience as they grow.

If my kids can only remember one thing I teach them, I hope it’s….

That reading is awesome! All of my kids love to read so far and it’s one thing that I feel I’ve done right as a mom, instilling that love in them. I only hope it can stay with them for life.

I feel like a great mom when….

I can learn to have more patience and speak kindly always. I don’t ever want my kids to feel like they are bothering me for interrupting my work–because my first job is them, no contest.

My personal motto is…..

design

Read more from Chaunie at her website, on Facebook and Twitter

 

 

Behind The Curtain: Why Being Your Own Boss Can Sometimes Suck

Back in 2011, I decided that I was going to try to do something I’d wanted to do my whole life: be a full-time writer.

Unlike other small children, my answer to “What do you want to be when you grow up?” didn’t change from week to week. I wanted to be a writer. Full stop. That’s it.

So I went hunting for writing jobs. Some paid well, some were laughable. An editor friend of mine reached out and asked me to write a post for this new site and it would pay me $250 for roughly 500 words. (To put it in perspective, I regularly write 500-word posts here at least four days a week.) I accepted any assignments she gave me, and for a while, it seemed like I was well on my way to replacing my lost income from my PR job.

One day, the CEO of that site called me directly. Asked me to become a contributing writer, paying me $100 per article, and I would get a guaranteed 10 articles (of my choosing) per month. At the time, I was very happy to get it because I got kids, yo, and it was the highest paying writing job I could find. Plus, the CEO asked me. Lil’ ol’ me from Ohio, receiving a phone call from the CEO while he lounged poolside in LA. Consider my ego stroked. I accepted.

All went well for two months.

In June, I sent my invoice for $1000 for 10 articles written in May. A full month and a half goes by before they send me a check. Only the check is for $250. WHERE IS MY $750, THOUGH? Had me looking at my check like,

ice cube gif

I email and email and get no response. At this point, I’ve also got my June invoice and a few articles from July pending with them. Their accounts payable department finally responds, saying my rate and the rate of all the other writers had been slashed to $25 per post and we just had to accept that the rest of our money wasn’t coming.

Now they’ve made me mad.

justin timberlake gif

I called and emailed the CEO (who was the one who asked me to write) and he was dodging my phone calls like a pro.

I would call and get angry with his secretary. “I KNOW HE’S RIGHT THERE, TANISHA! PUT HIM ON THE PHONE!”  She, of course, refuses, even though I can practically hear him sitting there.

BREAKING BAD GIF

They owed me $1500 for May and June and $300 for July. I needed my money. That was a mortgage payment I was missing. I kept this up for weeks. I tried to get the other writers to organize with me for some type of collective suit, but they weren’t interested. “Just accept it as a loss,” they said. “We’re moving on.”

The website has since gone out of business and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t happy about that. They played me to the left, meanwhile my bills still kept coming. How you gonna change payment terms AFTER the work is completed? We had a contract! An agreement. Freelancing is wack sometimes.

Lesson Learned: Sometimes, people will not pay you. Do as much as you can to guarantee at least a deposit for your services, add strictly worded language in your contract about refusal to pay and pad your bank account for the lean times.

There is so much faith that goes on behind the scenes. You have to believe the work will continue to come, or that you will be nimble enough to adapt if it doesn’t. You have to believe that the person on the other end of that accounts payable email address sees those emails and understands that the quicker you get your check, the faster it hits your check, the faster your mortgage company can get their share. You have to believe you are fulfilling your life’s purpose and that the small (and large) setbacks are worth the headache in the long run.

I do hope to share more stories of my life as a small business owner—the good, the bad and the ugly. Now only will it help me gain perspective about my career (I still had enough money to pay my mortgage after this incident, thankfully) but it is my hope that it will also help you all as you decide to branch out and create side hustles and small businesses!

Have questions about business, working from home, balancing motherhood? Hit me up on my Ask.fm page and your questions might spark a full blog post!

So About That ESSENCE Magazine Feature….

I woke up today with my cell phone buzzing on my nightstand. I cocked one eye open and fumbled around for it. What is going on? I wondered. Why does it keep chiming?

I then saw a bunch of Twitter notifications, congratulating me on being featured on ESSENCE’s website. Even though I had completed the interview last week, it still shocked me. I sat straight up and clicked through to the site to read what I had said about my journey as a full-time blogger and writer.

Essence feature website

Very cool, right?

The relationships editor who asked me if I’d like to be featured is Charreah Jackson, who is a good friend of mine. We interned together in the American Society of Magazine Editors’ internship program back in 2006. I was at Reader’s Digest, way out in the country, and she was at ESSENCE magazine.

But here’s the thing: I was offered an internship at ESSENCE that summer and I turned it down. It is a decision that still breaks my heart, but I had to choose the internship that paid more money, considering I had a kid on the way. I fully expected not to get along with her because I was nursing my own wounds. (Let’s face it: I was pretty immature back then.) I had dreamed of working for ESSENCE my whole life, but I had to put on my big girl panties and make the decision that would be best for my growing family.

But as soon as we met, I knew I found a true friend. I adored her big smile, her unwavering kindness and enthusiasm, and even back then, I could see that she was destined for big things. We didn’t hang out that much that summer, other than arranging to sit next to each other at our professional development sessions. You see, I was five months pregnant, 500 miles from my family and very homesick, so while the other interns gathered together at happy hour and at tourist-y spots around NYC, I spent most of my time in my dorm/apartment eating pineapple out of the can, waiting for my boyfriend to call. (That last sentence sounds waaay more depressing than I wanted it to be. LOL)

But we’ve kept in contact throughout the years and I’ve cheered as she’s climbed her career ladder and she’s cheered as I’ve tried to make my dreams a reality.

My point with all this is that you meet certain people for a reason. We were meant to cross paths, as two young journalism students who were trying to make our name in this ever-shifting industry. And I’m glad that we were able to forge and maintain a friendship after all these years. Maybe the goal wasn’t to be in ESSENCE. Maybe the goal was to make friends with a woman who inspires me personally and professionally.

And on THAT note, I encourage you to go read the piece! I talk about my superpower (hint: it’s Beyonce-related) and why I don’t separate my personal and professional life. You can sign up for the weekly features to hit your mailbox as well. What are you waiting for? Go, go, go! :)

5 Tips For Pulling Off A Week-In-A-Day Cooking Session

It’s hot outside and I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel like heating up my kitchen every single day. By the time I get done making dinner, it feels like it’s dinnertime again! Like, damn. Didn’t they just eat?

About once a month or so, I set aside time to cook 3-4 meals at a time. It helps me free up time during the week so that I’m not wondering what’s for dinner at 5:55 p.m. and end up ordering pizza. I’ve done this off and on all year and I love it. My family loves it too, because it means dinner is ready earlier and now I rarely, if ever, burn dinner. LOL! Here are my tips if you’d like to try cooking for the week in one day:

1. Cook on the day you grocery shop. 

You’re already moving a ton of stuff in and out of your fridge and if you just bought a ton of meat, you don’t have to worry about defrosting it and waiting for ingredients to be ready. Everything is already there.

2. Merge the same ingredients into different meals.

For instance, I will plop 4-5 pounds of bone-in chicken breast in the slow cooker until it’s fork tender. Then, I shred the meat and I have cooked chicken ready for whatever recipe I want. You could toss it in some BBQ sauce for BBQ chicken sandwiches, or make tacos or a casserole. The possibilities are endless. Here’s a menu I did recently:

Sunday: Roasted chicken and potatoes with green beans (this one-pot meal is my favorite)

Monday: Italian turkey meatballs, orzo and broccoli

Tuesday: Tacos

Wednesday: BBQ meatloaf muffins with mashed potatoes and green beans

You see how it could work? You’re roasting the chicken, the meatballs and the meatloaf muffins at the same time, while you brown the meat for tacos on the stove top. It will probably take you about 40 minutes to get everything in the oven, and then 15 minutes to brown the taco meat. Boom. While the meats are cooking in the oven, make the mashed potatoes and veggies. In about an hour and a half, you could be done with dinner through Wednesday. How cool is that?

3. Remember not all foods taste as good on the second day.

If you’re having baked fish that week, let that be the first meal you eat. You wouldn’t want to save that for Wednesday if you’re making it on Sunday. If you’re making spaghetti, that’s a meal that tastes great when reheated, so you could make that for the end of the week. Soups, stews, and casseroles are great for making ahead of time and finishing off the day you want to eat it.

4. Cook in bulk.

If you’re already elbow deep in cooking, why waste time later making the same dish? For example, if you’re making meatballs for dinner, make 10-15 extra for a second meal. If you’re cooking rice, double the amount and freeze it for later. Maximize the time you spend in the kitchen so you can free up your time to do other, more important things, like actually eating the food.

5. Reheat like a pro.

I find that most items taste better reheated on the stove or in the oven than in the microwave. That’s just my preference. If you don’t like the way reheated food tastes, you can always just do a head-start on your meals. Instead of cooking everything, you can chop all the ingredients and put them together in Ziplock bags or Tupperware and cook them each day. You’d still be saving time and you’d get that day-of flavor you want!

Anyone else try to cook multiple meals at once? What are some of your tips?