I’m off enjoying a wedding this weekend, so please enjoy this guest post by the lovely Katie of Lil Veggie Patch! 

Hi Keeping It Real Food-ers!  My name is Katie, and I’m honored to be guest posting for Jess today. I write a little blog called Lilveggiepatch, where I document the food I eat, friends I meet, and just about everything in between.

After graduating from college with an English degree two years ago, I started a post-baccalaureate program to obtain all of the pre-requisites needed to apply to a PhD program in physical therapy.  It’s been quite an adjustment going back to school full-time- and taking really difficult science classes!- so I thought I’d share some of the successful ways I’ve found to save time, stay healthy, and stress less. In my experience, it’s all about managing planning, time management, and not taking yourself too seriously.

1. Make lists.  Write down everything you have to do including work tasks, cleaning chores, and all those other things you want to put off.  Make sure to add fun items, too… my lists often have “paint my nails” and “watch latest episode of Gossip Girl” on them.

2. Cook once for the week.  If you budget a couple hours out of your Sunday to grocery shop, prep, and cook a few things, you will save yourself so much time.   I usually prepare a big pot of grains (brown rice, quinoa, and millet are my standbys), roast vegetables, and cook some kind of protein.  In the fall and winter, I also love to have a pot of soup ready to heat up in the fridge.  Here are my go-to simple foods to cook:

3.  Pack lunch while you make dinner.  This one is a huge time saver… mornings are stressful enough without having to pack a bag with lunch and enough snacks to get you through the day.  Make extra of whatever you’re having and pack it right into a container.  I’m a big fan of these Klip It containers… they have compartments to separate food, often include reusable silverware, and have a special clip that prevents spillage.

4. Pencil in exercise.  While it’s not my favorite thing to, working out is something that I know will bust my stress while keeping my heart healthy.  I don’t always have time to pump iron or take a fitness class, but something is always better than nothing!  I often multitask by reading a chapter of a textbook while I ride the bike or use the elliptical.

5.  Make time for fun!  As the saying goes, all work and no play makes Jane a very, very dull (and burned-out) girl.  You can’t work all the time, so be sure to see your friends and family when you can.  A group of my friends gets together every couple weeks for pot-luck dinners; it’s an inexpensive way to spend an evening together, and we have to eat anyway!

6. …. At the same time, it’s okay to say “no” every once in a while, too.  In the last five days I’ve canceled four different sets of plans.  I was overwhelmed with schoolwork, and knew I wouldn’t be much fun if I was thinking about how I should be home studying.  It’s also okay to tell your friends you really need to spend a night in the bathtub with a good book and a glass of wine.  I do it often, and they understand.

7.  Know your limits.  Even Betty Draper can’t be 100% perfect all the time, and sometimes you just have to tell yourself you did your best.  Modern women have so much going on and so much to balance, but there’s only one person who knows how much she can or cannot handle.  So be honest with yourself.

Thanks again to Jess for hosting my post!  I’d love to hear about how you stay organized, so feel free to drop on by my blog sometime!

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