Have you ever thought how effortless it looks to watch Olympic ice skaters glide across the ice? It looks effortless but we know it takes years of dedicated practice. Work life balance in concept is effortless to understand, however, if you have been working from home for long, you know the implementation of the concept is not effortless. It’s easy to put all your effort into work, leaving little for your family. You think you can do it all, but you can’t pour from an empty cup. It’s important to find that middle ground where you take care of your job, yourself, and your family. We attribute the ancient Greek’s with influencing much of our thinking of today and in particular, the idea of balance. Aristotle describes meeting in the middle of two extremes.
Aristotle said, “Virtue is the golden mean between two vices, the one of excess and the other of deficiency”
In the case of family mealtime, on the extreme side of excess would be take-out food or frozen meals every day and never cooking or sitting down together for a family meal. Too much yang. On the other side of the extreme, cooking, chopping and shopping would take over your life and not leave time to work and earn money. Too much yin. Where is the middle ground? Even Bobby Flay has to spend some time doing something other than cooking. This article has some ideas about finding the golden mean between the two extremes with auto pilot cooking. Work life balance may not require as many hours of dedicated practice as skating in the Olympics, however, it is also not something that we are born with knowing. It’s something we learn and perfect over time.
The Work Life Balance
Mealtimes are some of the most important times families spend together. As activities ramp up again and everyone has their ‘thing’ it’s hard to find that time to connect, but there’s magic that happens at that dinner table – everyone unwinds, laughs, and feels the connection. You don’t have to give that up if you work from home – meal prep, ovens, and crock pots all make the work life balance not only possible, but successful. Luckily, working from home affords options that are more difficult to implement for the traditional commuter. Autopilot cooking saves your sanity and puts healthy food on your table. You can work despite being home, and have a hot, healthy meal for everyone to enjoy.
No Commute Means no Fast Food
How many times did you swing through the drive-thru when you worked outside the home? Traffic, working late, or busy after work schedules were all reasons to grab fast food or to-go orders. Commute time added to your stress and made it ‘okay’ to grab food on the way home. Working from home eliminates that commute. You’d actually have to make a special trip out to get the fast food. Time constraints exist, but they aren’t a barrier to healthy home cooked food with the right tools and scheduling. You can use part of that commute time savings to cook delicious home cooked meals while you are working from home.
What is Auto Pilot Cooking?
Most work from home jobs provide the ability to set your own hours within certain time constraints. With our job, you can expand your day beyond the traditional 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and up to 12 daytime hours by working the coast to coast time zones. Working different time zones means having the option to start early on the east coast and/or work later on the west coast. In between and weekends, there’s plenty of time to prepare your meals for the day or even the week.
Each family has different food preferences, but some of the auto pilot cooking options look like:
- Creating premade casseroles or lasagnas on the weekend and putting them in the oven right before dinner- while you are still working
- Making baked meals that take hours to bake while you are working in your home office, and require little prep or hands-on time, such as roasts, whole chicken, pork, or beef
- Experimenting with crockpot meals, such as soups, chili, or whole meats (chicken, beef, pork), that cook all day while you are working
- Quick and easy sheet pan meals that put all ingredients on one pan and bake together
And don’t forget about lunch! It doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, your dinners can do double duty. Make enough for everyone to eat at dinner and get more mileage with leftovers.
- Chop meats for salads or tacos
- Make sandwiches out of roasted meats
- Heat up leftovers as is in the microwave
Anything you can throw in the microwave or grab from the refrigerator already prepped is the perfect lunch when you work from home. You can pre-wash salad greens and place them in the fridge. They taste even better when they are crisped up in the fridge.
An Auto Pilot Cooking Recipe to Try
Here’s one of our favorite recipes from Skinny Taste. We love it for its versatility because it’s great for leftovers. Serve it over rice, or tortillas, or even on your salad that you prepped over the weekend. You can even prepare this meal ahead of time and store in the freezer or store prepared portions in the freezer, popping them in the microwave when you’re ready to eat.
Crock Pot Santa Fe Chicken
- 24 oz 1 1/2 lbs chicken breast
- 4oz can diced tomatoes with mild green chilies
- 15oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 8oz frozen corn
- 1/4cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 4oz can fat free chicken broth
- 3scallions, chopped
- 1tsp garlic powder
- 1tsp onion powder
- 1tsp cumin
- 1tsp cayenne pepper, to taste
- salt to taste
Season the chicken with salt and layer all ingredients in the crockpot, placing the chicken last. Cook on low for 8 – 10 hours, removing the chicken when there are 30 minutes left. Shred the chicken and place it back in the crockpot for the remaining 30 minutes.
Aristotle Would Be So Proud
Working from home is a great way to stay connected with your family, while still excelling at your career. It requires a bit of restructuring and a lot of discipline, but once you get into a routine, it’s easy to see the benefits. Create a schedule that allows time to work, making your calls or other work, and performing your job during the required hours, while still spending quality time with your family. We can’t ask Aristotle what he thinks of the idea of auto pilot cooking, but I think he would see it as the golden mean. We’d probably all get an A in his work life balance class. Oh, I think my Instacart order is here!