Five ways to organize your summer meals

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Summer is a busy season for everyone – between summer camps, trips, and day-long activities, there is usually little time to prepare and cook a meal. However, with these tips, you can ensure that you will have a meal ready to eat without the stress or cost of ordering out:

Pre-purchase ready to eat protein options

When the weather is hot, the last thing people want to do is heat up their homes by turning on the oven. Instead, stock up on pre-cooked protein options, like rotisserie chicken or shredded pork from your local grocery store. Canned tuna and hard-boiled eggs can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge for recipes like these. You could also pre-cook your meat early in the morning or at the beginning of the week, so you can avoid using the oven during the heat of the day.

Take advantage of the fresh vegetables

Summer is prime time for fresh vegetables, so why not take advantage of them? Stock up on your family’s favourites and incorporate them into easy meals, like stir-fry, salad and sandwiches. Vegetables can be washed and cut up at the beginning of the week or earlier in the day, so you don’t have to worry about doing all of your preparations right before the meal. To save time and avoid your oven, you can also use your vegetables raw instead of cooking them. Most vegetables taste even better when they are fresh during the summer, so incorporate them into your meals like this recipe for Shaved Squash Salad with Tomatoes and Ricotta.

Utilize your kitchen appliances

Instead of always using your oven, utilize your other kitchen appliances to plan your meals in advance, like a slow cooker. Your meat, vegetables and grains can all be prepared the night before and turned on in the morning so they are ready for you to eat in the evening. You can even use a rice cooker to cook up rice at the beginning of the week, so you have a side dish ready to go for multiple meals. Get creative and use your other kitchen appliances to put together stress-free and tasty meals like these over the summer.

Use your leftovers!

Don’t feel bad about having a “leftovers” meal night when you are out at the lake or park all day! Save any leftovers from your meals throughout the week, and plan on having one meal made up of all your leftovers. If you don’t quite have enough food, supplement your meal with a quick side salad or fresh fruit.

Stay simple

Most importantly, don’t feel the need to plan large, complicated meals. They take a lot of time, ingredients, and energy that could be better spent on outdoor activities or gatherings with friends and family. When the weather is hot, many people don’t feel like eating multiple courses or rich dishes, so it’s okay to stick to simple meals with simple ingredients. During the summer months, there are plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables to purchase at the store or grow in your own garden that are full of flavour. It’s easy to organize meals for the week because they are so readily available and quick to prepare.

This summer, don’t stress about making meals when you’re busy soaking up the sun, or break the bank because you’re always ordering out. Cook simple meals with ingredients that are ready to go and don’t require using your oven, so you can avoid heating up your home. By following these tips to organize your meals, you can relax and enjoy your summer without the stress at mealtime!

Are you ready for your summer vacation?

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Summer is here, and that means many Calgarians are getting ready to head out on their summer vacations. Any summer trip, whether it is a quick weekend getaway or month abroad, requires a lot of planning. Below, we’ve outlined some of the steps you will need to complete to ensure you have everything you need before you leave! 

 

Make lists

Lists can help you keep track of every stage of your trip. To prevent you from getting confused, make sure that you separate your lists by subject. For example, keep one list for just the items you need to pack and another for what you need to do before you leave.

When you’re putting together a “to do” list, or a list of items to pack, make sure that you keep them in a place that is easy to find. You don’t want to lose it before you even start! Consider using a task tracking app like Trello or Awesome Note. You can also create a list on a white board and hang it in your office, kitchen or bedroom. This way, anyone can easily add or check off your items and tasks as you complete them.

 

Pack smart

One of the most essential parts of an organized trip is packing smart. Before you start pulling out your items, make sure you consider what the weather is predicted to be like at your destination, what activities you will be doing, and how you will be travelling. Do you need to consider baggage restrictions on a flight, or have limited room in your vehicle? From here, you can put together your packing list, and use it to make sure that all of your items are accounted for.

When your packing items, consider using packing cubes or storage compartments to keep your items organized, compact, and easy to find. Packing cubes are smaller, rectangular fabric containers that can fit a variety of items. For example, you can use one to store all of your shirts so they are neatly folded and easy to find. Storage containers and bags with smaller compartments and pockets can also help you keep like items with like, and help you fit more items in your bag.

 

Create an itinerary

Your summer vacation is supposed to be fun and relaxing, so make sure you know where you need to be and when! Make sure to record important times for travelling, tours, excursions and meet-ups for your vacation before you leave. You can use the calendar in your phone or an agenda to keep track of addresses and times. Apps like Google Trips and TripCase can store all of your important travel information, as well as any documents you may need like tickets and reservation confirmations.

If you are travelling with other people, make sure they have access to a copy of the trip itinerary, so everyone is on the same page. Apps (like the ones listed above) and phone calendars having sharing functions that allow you to share your itinerary and information with travel mates. 

 

Prepare your home

Even though you are leaving home behind, it’s important to make sure that everything is prepared for when you leave. Make arrangements to have a neighbour, friend or family member check on your house periodically over your vacation. A list of what to check for, as well as any keys or passcodes needed should also be gathered and provided for whoever is watching your home. Any outdoor items like toys and patio furniture should be properly stored. It is a good idea to give the inside of your house a quick clean, so everything is in place for your return.

Any arrangements for pick-ups from airports, train stations or bus stops should also be made beforehand. Let a family member or friend know about your travel plans and provide contact information in case of an emergency.

 

Before you get away for rest and relaxation, make sure you are ready for your trip by making lists, packing smart, creating an itinerary, and preparing your home. By completing these tasks ahead of time, you can enjoy a stress-free vacation this summer!

Outdoor living: Simple, colourful, and inviting

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The forecast may not look great for the weekend, but it is sure to warm up as we get further into July. Until then, it’s time to get your outdoor living space ready for you to relax and enjoy! Whether you only have a deck or a huge backyard, there are a few key tips to keep in mind when you’re putting your outdoor space together. There are many different decorations, accessories, and objects you might be enticed to buy, but keeping your style simple and practical will not only create a welcoming feel but also keep your outdoor space from becoming cluttered and disorganized.

Multi-functional pieces

When you’re picking out furniture for your space, consider pieces that can serve multiple purposes, especially if you are working with a small space. For example, a bench seat can also be used to store cushions, and coffee tables can be used to set food and drinks out as well as store toys or smaller cushions. An ice chest can also be used to store ice and keep food and beverages cold while also acting as a side table.

Keep décor minimal

Sticking to neutral pieces will extend their longevity, but colour can be brought in with cushions and throw pillows to make the space more vibrant. When you’re purchasing cushions and pillows, make sure that you purchase fabrics that are durable and don’t over-purchase throw pillows. Only buy the number of items that you actually need. Remember, all of these items will need to be stored over the winter and in bad weather.

Consider what works with your space, and what works with our weather. For example, wrought iron furniture is durable but heavy, and might not be easy to move and store. Whicker is weather resistant but some pieces can be bulky and may not work with your space. Sectional couches can maximize space while still offering a lot of seating, and may be a good option if you don’t have room for multiple couches and chairs. Weather resistant carpets are a great way to protect feet and keep your patio or deck clean while also bringing some style to your space.

Add some greenery

Make use of your natural outdoor surroundings and add a pop of colour with planters or a small flower bed. Planters come in all shapes and sizes, so you can use one that fits your space, whether it’s around your backyard or a simple pot on an outdoor coffee table. If you’re tight on space, you can create a “hanging” garden but planting flowers or herbs on a wall-mounted planter on the side of your house or shed. However, you’ll need to keep in mind that these plants will have to be watered and looked after all summer. Try to keep all of your gardening tools close by with a gardening caddy or storage bench. This way, you will have easy access to regularly used items like watering cans and gardening gloves.

Let there be light

Lanterns or string lights can provide much needed light to a space, especially when you’re enjoying a beautiful evening outside with friends and family. String lights and lanterns can also provide a decorative element to your outdoor space, and many can be used as decorations inside during the off-season. String lights are also relatively easy to store, and can be wrapped up like Christmas lights to prevent tangling. Try making your own storage system or purchase a storage container like this option.

Your outdoor space can be warm and inviting without over cluttering your yard. By using simple and practical pieces with a few pops of colour or greenery, you can transform your deck or patio in time to enjoy the warm weather ahead!