In the past, my husband had lost over 200 pounds with a ketogenic diet, and he is always excited to help other people on that journey. Not me, however – I cannot stomach the idea avoiding carbs and the diet always just felt extremely restrictive.
Before we get into the good stuff, I do want to mention that while this post is sponsored by “Always Eat After 7pm”, the views within are my own.
I do want to lose weight, however, so I started looking around for other ways to go about shedding some pounds. I found “Always Eat After 7pm” and was automatically caught up in the premise that eating at night could actually help me lose weight. After all, it’s been my belief my entire life that eating at night makes you gain weight and with my husbands sort of carbphobia, I was extra scared of late-night snacking or before-bed pizza.
Why This Mom is Reading Always Eat After 7pm
What drew me to “Always Eat After 7pm” is that it claims to offer consistent weight loss while flying in the face of everything I “know” is certified science. Turns out, that’s not the case – in fact, the author points to multiple studies that indicate better sleep and lower calorie consumption the next day when food is eaten before bed.
But to be frank, the thing that piqued my interest was this quote:
“Fact is, most diets are extremely narrow with regard to food choices and variety, and many even limit entire macronutrients altogether over the course of the entire program (think low-carb and low-fat diets). Three months with no carbs? No thanks. Such practices not only are entirely unnecessary, but make for a miserable, unsustainable experience.”
Based on surprising science, Always Eat After 7 PM debunks popular diet myths and offers an easy-to-follow diet that accelerates fat-burning and allows you to indulge in your most intense food cravings: Eating the majority of your calories at night.
I looked at my husband with his 12 eggs a day habit like some kind of real-life Gaston and thought “no thank you”. I’d rather eat whatever I want, especially if I want a late-night snack. And that had me hooked – I decided to try this method.
Ever the skeptic, my husband poked around through the book and watched this video of the author Joel Marion explaining the science behind his method:
Once my husband realized what was being pitched would actually work, he begrudgingly stopped judging the bowl of cherries I was furiously maxing on at 9 pm.
I’d tried other diet plans in the past, like ones where you need hyper-expensive workout videos or meal delivery systems and I hated them. They worked, mind you, but I hated them and they were costly. If this plan could help me lose weight and keep up with my kids, and the entry fee was only the price of a book, I was quite frankly sold.
We’ve been traditionally taught to avoid carbs, have an early dinner, and never eat before bed. But the fact is, the latest scientific research shows us this earlier model is not the most ideal and a diet simply won’t work at ALL if you don’t stick to it. I remember my mom doing juice fasts as a kid and she was always irritable, had no energy and she still barely lost weight, all of which sounds like horrible torture.
I was determined to apply this book’s concepts and objectively see if it worked for weight loss, so I picked up an advance copy. I’ll be working on the concepts in the book, starting with the 14-day acceleration phase that claims to help you lose up to 1 pound per day (I’m particularly excited about that). I’ll be writing about my success with the program, so keep coming back to see how I’m doing.
Right now in our homes, we’re all stressed; the kids, the spouse, our parents. It’s scary and uncertain and there’s a pall of tension over everything, and even mundane tasks like going to the grocery store feel like suiting up for dangerous missions.
Between taking care of the kids, working from home and trying to keep things organized, going to the grocery store was not high on my list of wants, but having food is definitely high on our list of needs. A friend of mine suggested I try Postmates, and they gave me the promo code FOODMATES, which gives $100 off of delivery fees, so I decided it was worth a go. That said, please note this is a sponsored post, but it in no way reflects my view points or opinion.
I had heard of Postmates when I lived in Chicago, as it was a popular courier service, but they’ve branched out and now deliver just about anything, anywhere. This includes food from local restaurants, groceries, medicine, etc so we used them to get our weekly grocery order delivered.
The app is incredibly simple to use and the delivery was fast, no-contact and painless. I didn’t have to fight crowds, wear PPE, or wander around a grocery store – our weekly meal plan was completed with a few clicks of an app.
Plus, by ordering through Postmates, there was no chance I was going to impulse buy anything; I got exactly what I needed and didn’t have to leave the house.
It’s not guided meditation or a 5-mile run, but anything to prevent some stress right now is welcome. Having our groceries delivered by Postmates freed up a huge amount of time in my day, and by using the promo code FOODMATES, I didn’t even have to pay for delivery (though we tipped of course).
Do yourself a favor and give them a try and see how much less stressful your life can be when things you need are brought to you.
While the world is staying safe and keeping our distance, there are still those of us who must go out and work, shop and interact at least in some ways with the outside world. Though we’re all counting the days to when we can get out and mingle again, for right now our trips to the grocery store need to be quick, efficient and frugal.
Grocery Shopping Tips For Quarantine
These tips are designed to help us all make our quarantine grocery shopping healthy, safe and efficient, but they’re useful for when all of this ends as well. Wrangling your grocery excursions each week can save you thousands of dollars over the year and tremendous amounts of waste, and might even improve your health.
Make a meal plan before your grocery list
Everyone knows that you shouldn’t go shopping hungry or thirsty because it increases your chances of impulse buying. Did you know it’s just as detrimental to not have a plan in place for all your groceries?
A good meal plan flows into each day; buying a value pack of ground beef can make burgers one day and the leftovers can be used for chili the next. Cooking a pork roast for dinner on Sunday is perfect to make pulled pork on Monday or Tuesday. Planning meals like this saves money and prevents waste, and it allows you to use fillers like beans or rice to make your meals stretch farther.
Avoid Instacart unless you absolutely cannot
Though it seems like getting your groceries delivered is a great way to save time and minimize risk, ultimately someone else is still out there shopping, meaning even though you’re not exposed, someone else is. Additionally, this person is looking at your list and touching things, putting them back and spending more time in the store than you would because you know where to find your routine purchases.
Services like this also mark up the cost of each individual item and charge you a fee. Combined you might be looking at paying over 20% more than if you had shopped yourself.
For high-risk people, these types of services are likely necessities, but many grocery stores offer special hours for high-risk, elderly and emergency services customers. These are low traffic times with extra precautions taken, so if you can, use these hours to your advantage.
Try expanding meatless Mondays
Meat is usually the most expensive part of a meal and with supply chains becoming hindered, it’s increasingly scarce, limited and costly. Meatless Monday is a popular concept that helps people reduce their carbon footprint, reduce meat intake and increase their vegetable intake for better health.
Beans are a great substitute for meat as they provide proteins and cost dramatically less. Dried beans last a considerable amount of time when properly stored and they’re not difficult to cook at all. When coupled with rice, most beans provide a complete essential protein profile and again, both are pantry staples that last for years.
If you want an idea of how much meat to buy for your family and how much each serving costs, there are calculators online that help with that. Applications like these can show you just how much you spend each week on meat, and how much each serving costs, and you can compare different proteins against each other for cost-effectiveness as well.
Batch cook and streamline
With quarantine days bleeding into each other, it’s best to automate as many healthy practices as possible. Your brain likes to make habits out of the mundane, but different experiences feel more special when we make certain parts of our days automatic.
To this end, making big batches of easy breakfasts and lunches is a great way to eat healthy with little thought and to save money. A big container of tuna salad or a breakfast casserole are both extremely cheap, can feed a family for days and can be tailored to be delicious and healthy. This also makes it so that your dinners or weekend meals are more special, because they differ so dramatically from your daily meals. Canned tuna also keeps for a long time, making it an ideal purchase during quarantine when you want to maximize your shopping trips.
Safety and efficiency
Going to the store should be as quick and efficient as possible. Plan a grocery list based on what you pass by as you flow through the store. Produce and meat are usually on the outside, with pantry staples in the middle of the store.
Take a list to ensure you only need to go past each area once, and don’t waste time browsing. Getting in and out as quickly as possible is your top priority, as is maintaining distance. Going as early as possible is another great idea to minimize interaction with other people and maximize how quickly you can get through the store.
Redefine your overall budget
Your grocery budget should be robust enough to feed your family well, but not bloated and including things you really don’t need. Reconsidering your entire budget is a great step during these quarantine times because money is probably becoming more tight, but even if it’s not, there’s never been a better time to step back and evaluate where your money is going and how it’s working for you.
Take the time to sit with a budget calculator and plug in the data to determine how much you should be spending on groceries versus how much you are, and find ways to make those numbers more closely match up.
Grocery shopping has changed dramatically in a few months, and what was simply another chore has turned into something that begs deeper consideration. You can, however, make it a positive, efficient and money-saving experience with just a little bit of planning, budgeting and forethought.
Cooking is one of the most important skills for literally every single person to learn. The days of hoping you marry someone who can cook are over; even if you do, there will be periods of your life where you’ll need to cook for yourself.
Eating takeout all the time is hard on your wallet and your waistline, and cooking for yourself (or your family) has the benefit of allowing you to know exactly what is going into your meals. Additionally, for people with intolerances or allergies to certain foods, cooking for yourself might be literally lifesaving.
Saving Money by Cooking at Home
Particularly at the time of this writing, quarantine across most of the globe due to COVID-19 has us stuck in our houses, so there’s never been a better time to learn how to cook. Let’s take a look at some ways in which home cooking can benefit you, your wallet and your weight.
Cooking is a must for weight loss
If you’re trying to lose weight, cooking for yourself is the right way to go. Even though most restaurants have calorie and macronutrient breakdowns (fat, protein and carbs), those are still dependent on a chef that goes by exact measurements. A heavy hand with the sauce ladle can tip the calorie count 200 or more, and nobody wants that.
Since weight loss is based mostly on what you put into your body – mainly calories – knowing how many you’re taking in per day can be far more easily measured when you’re cooking for yourself.
Home cooking saves you money
While it’s a great thing to support local restaurants, particularly during these difficult times, you can’t reasonably do it every single day. Cooking is far cheaper than eating out, and it’s not difficult to see why.
When you map out a meal plan – you do make a meal plan each week I hope – you can usually ballpark how much it’s going to cost you. For a family of four, a frugal meal plan can be $100 or less, but to eat out for a family of four might cost upwards of $50 for one meal. The math is plainly obvious; $100 for an entire week of meals, or $50 for one single meal of takeout.
Cooking is so easy to learn
Despite what you may think, cooking isn’t incredibly difficult to learn. There are plenty of places online where you can learn basics of home cooking, even if you’re a complete novice. Youtube is a great place to find beginner recipes, cooking steps, tips and basic information.
For a new cook, one of the most daunting tasks is figuring out how to convert measurements – how many tablespoons in a cup, ounces in a gallon, etc. Having a reliable website to convert measurements is hugely helpful, even for a seasoned cook (or if you’re trying to make cooking fun but educational for the kids!)
The conversion tools at Culinary Schools.org are fantastic for quick conversions, no matter how new to cooking you are. I’ve been cooking for years but there’s times where I’m in the middle of a recipe and simply don’t know how to measure out an ingredient, especially when the directions are using metric versus imperial units.
They’ve also got a handful of weight loss calculators that are perfect for figuring out your macros, your body fat percentage and the amount you can expect to burn from working out. If you’re learning to cook to lose weight, they’ve got all the tools you could possibly need to scientifically progress towards your goal.
No matter what reason you have for embarking on the noble pursuit of learning how to cook, it’s not nearly as hard as you think, and the benefits are enormous. Cooking at home is a powerful, noble life skill, it can save you money and help you become the healthiest version of you. There’s never been a better time to learn how to cook for yourself.
As a parent, I’m always trying to find a way to encourage learning in my kids. My son is in kindergarten and he’s great at math and reading, but homework is a struggle. He just gets antsy and I totally understand, as I think we all can; after a long day of learning, who wants to do more school?
If you’re anything like me, you want your kids to learn and absorb as much knowledge as they can, but you sometimes hit the “homework conundrum” where concerted extra education is met with resistance.
Convincing your children to play a game, however, is a lot easier than doing homework. There are tons of apps you can download and many are great, but most have a subscription fee or at the very least have ads. I wanted to find something that would engage my son and reinforce the math he was already learning, but that he could play on his own.
Teach Kindergarten Math Online
Browser-based math games
I was an adult in the 2000s when Adobe Flash games were at their peak. The nice thing about browser-based games is that they usually don’t require anything more than a click to play them, and they’re usually pretty simple. Especially right now while home learning is at its peak, finding new ways to engage little minds has never been more critical. I found this site that had all the browser-based math games I could possibly want, without needing an email or even creating an account. Better yet, they’re free, and there aren’t even any ads, which is wonderful because little ones LOVE to click on banner ads.
As I went through the site, I found dozens of math games for all manner of skill levels, but since my kids are in preschool and kindergarten, I wanted to focus in on games for them in particular.
After trial-and-error, I found that 1 and 2-star games were probably just right for my children. Using this information, I endeavored to find the best ones that would both hold their attention and be playable (ideally without my interference).
Here are some of the best ones I found, based on ease of play, ability to reinforce good math fundamentals, and of course how fun they are.
Math Plus Puzzle
I personally, as a real life adult, found this game to be pretty fun. It’s a matching game of sorts, requiring you to do some addition to clear colored blocks, not unlike Collapse. As you progress the math gets slightly more difficult, but my son did a great job, and it’s very forgiving.
It’s colorful, interesting and because of the increasing difficulty yet simple design, it’s pretty addictive. The best of the ones I played for sure.
This is the one my son liked the best, mostly because we’ve been on a Last Kids On Earth kick and he wants to fight monsters all the time. It is a little more challenging, offering math equations that you have to complete before a monster gets you. When you complete the equation, Math Boy does a flourish with his sword and vanquishes the horrible creature attacking him.
It gets faster and the math problems get more complex, and you can choose between addition, subtraction, multiplication or a mix of all operations, so this game would be good for older kids as well. In fact, of the ones I played it seems that most of the Calculators.org games scale in difficulty while sticking with a simple premise, which I love.
While my son liked this one for the monster-vanquishing, I found it tedious after a while because though the math get more complex, the monsters and levels don’t seem to change much. And how many monsters did I destroy before I came to this conclusion?
Way too many, but on the plus side I’m better at math now.
Math For Kids
This one is probably the best if you have younger kids. It allows you to set limits, like if your child only knows 1-10, the math doesn’t get more difficult than that. You can start with simple counting, then move on to addition and so forth.
Math For Kids is simple but engaging enough to keep them learning while playing a game and again the increasing levels of complexity keep it relevant as they progress.
For preschoolers – Animal Memory Game
This isn’t a math game exactly, but it does help with memory and logic. It’s literally what it sounds like – a memory match game – but without tiny cards that get lost all over your house. It’s good for preschoolers and younger, since it’s an engaging way to teach them how to use their tablet or laptop.
Math games for learning
Overall, I found the website to be a good grouping of games for kids to learn math but not realize they’re learning math.
The downsides I found were minor, though they could be improved upon. For instance, the games should be evaluated and grouped better for age range. The star-rating for difficulty is deceptive, as some games are listed as a 1-star (easiest) and involved multiplication and division, and a few games are higher difficulty but could be customized for young children just learning math.
In general I would say that was my biggest complaint – the games are there but there’s no way to search or determine what would be best for your particular learner. It took me actually playing a dozen or so games before I could hone in on the ones that would be good for my kids, which isn’t awful but again, it could be improved upon.
Ultimately these games are a good addition to your home-based learning. They’re engaging, somewhat addictive, bright and colorful and actually pretty fun. There’s really nothing to lose since they’re free and play right in your browser, so I do recommend giving them a try.