Your eating habits when you work from home isn’t something you’ve probably thought about when you make the transition to a full-time home office or freelance worker. However, your eating habits can have a significant impact on your health, energy, and daily outlook.
In this episode of Bring Your Own Office, I give suggestions of meals that have worked from her during her 4.5 years of working from home, as well as ways to utilize meal times to break up the monotony of her day. She also suggests meal planning as a way to stay more organized and sane as a WFHomer, even if you hate cooking.
Play now, or scroll down for the transcribed version:
How to Eat Healthy Working From Home
Today, I wanted to talk about how to eat when you work from home. I feel like your eating patterns is something you don’t really think about when you are switching to working from home full-time, but it is something that will affect your overall health.
The first question I wanted to talk about was, do you eat more or less when you work from home? I will say for me, I probably eat more often, but usually it’s healthier foods, and so that’s helped me a lot since I am not in an office. Usually with the office, you just want something that is nearby, and you don’t have to drive very far to take time away from being at work, or if you have an hour, you can’t take longer than that. Working from home gives you a little bit more flexibility. I will say for myself, usually my eating patterns with lunch specifically is still something quick and easy, but I do try to eat healthy when I can. I do eat frozen meals occasionally, but you definitely want to shy away from any frozen meals that are really high in sodium or sugar. A lot of times, frozen meals will use a lot of sodium because it’s a natural preservative, so you definitely want to stay away from high sodium meals whenever you are looking for good alternatives for your lunches during the day.
Frozen Meals CAN Be a Good Option
Two brands I really like are: Amy’s, they do a lot of vegetarian, vegan and organic stuff that doesn’t necessarily taste like a health food. They also have pretty healthy bean burritos, which I know when you say “burrito,” usually that means it’s not healthy, but it’s a good alternative if you are going to have a burrito of some type. I really like Amy’s bowls with the Mexican casserole and the pesto are two of my favorites. They’re about 450 to 500 calories, so not too bad at all.
I will say that Lean Cuisine has also stepped up their game when it comes to better quality frozen meals. They’re still pretty low calorie, but they are reducing that sodium count, which is always good. A lot of the diet meals like Lean Cuisine are only 250 to 300 calories, which isn’t enough, at least for me, for a meal, so a lot of times I’ll pair that with some fruit, yogurt, maybe a protein bar. One bar that I really enjoy lately are called ReBAR, and they’re from Canada, but they ship to the US, and it is actually eight servings of fruits and vegetables in one 150 calorie bar. They use a temperature control process so all the nutrients are still intact. Of course, it’s not the same as eating eight servings, but it’s as close as you can get, and so I really like using that as a good replacement for fruits and vegetables when I have bad with eating fresh fruits and vegetables.
You CAN Eat More Fruits & Veggies
When it comes to the fruits and vegetables, I think it’s important to be honest with yourself, and know what you’re going to eat. Sometimes I try to be an optimist and think that I’m going to eat a bunch of bananas within a week, but usually I don’t, and then they go bad, so you just have to be kind of prepared with your own eating habits, and plan accordingly. If I do have fruits and vegetables, a lot of times I will make smoothies or protein shakes, and those are a really good option for working from home, because you have a little bit more time to make them. You’re at your own home, so if you use a blender, or I have a NutriBullet. I couldn’t think of the name. It’s pretty loud, and so since you do work from home, you are able to use it, versus if you were in an office, excuse me, that would probably be pretty disruptive.
You can mix veggies and protein powder into your smoothies. That’s what I do. Carrots, and spinach, and mixed greens are usually what I rotate. You can’t taste any of those in your smoothies at all. I promise. It might turn them orange or green, but you really only taste the fruit, and then the protein flavor. I usually get vanilla, because it pairs really well. As my base, I don’t really drink a lot of dairy milk, so I will have almond milk usually, sometimes soy milk, or occasionally even water if I have a lot of good fruit in there, and I know that I don’t really need a dairy base. Sometimes water is all you need, and that’s an extra way to cut calories if you’re watching that.
In addition to the protein powder, sometimes I’ll do ground flaxseed or chia seed, and that’s another good way to add some fiber and protein in there from a natural source. Chia seed isn’t too expensive, and flax seed is getting a lot cheaper. Online sites like iHerb.com has pretty good deals on that kind of stuff. In addition to smoothies and frozen meals, I do eat protein bars a lot. I really enjoy Quest Bars. They have really high fiber and protein counts, 180 calories, about, and the flavor is really, really good. They are about $2.00 to $2.50 per bar.
You can get them on Amazon for about $25.00 for 12, so that’s probably the best deal. Our local grocery store has them for $2.05 a bar, so that’s where I buy them, but there’s tons of amazing flavors. My favorites are cookies and cream, or chocolate chip cookie dough, and so just experiment, and maybe get a few different flavors and see what your favorites are, but protein bars like that are useful if, again, you don’t really want to take a break for lunch, or you … I’m not a breakfast person, so I know I usually have to eat something in the morning, and that’s what I’ll usually reach for, because I’m not that hungry.
Taking a Break For Lunch Can Help Break Monotony
I will say though, it is important to take a break, and lunch can be a great excuse to do that. Since I’ve worked from home full-time for, geez, almost five years, so four and a half years, I’ve found that having an excuse to leave the house really helps stave off cabin fever. Going to get something to eat two to three times a week really helps me with that. It prevents me from going insane, and staying by myself all the time. I might run out to grab a salad, or a sandwich, or a wrap, something like that. I do now work in a co-working space two to three times per week, so I’ll often use that as an excuse to leave the co-working space and go get a drink, and a salad, or whatever. It just breaks up the monotony of having to eat from home, or from your co-working office, if you’re like me every day. I do enjoy that.
I will say though, when I’m not going out for a meal, it does help to plan what you’re going to do. I do that with my lunches, and then dinners as well. I’m one of the weirdos that actually like grocery shopping, so every Sunday, I will make our grocery list based on the meals I’m going to make for the week, Monday through Friday. I don’t cook on the weekends, because cooking during the weekdays is terrible enough, so I’ll plan out what we’re doing. If me or my husband’s going to be gone, then I usually won’t cook and the other person’s just on their own unless I bring him something from my happy hour, or whatever. I’ll make my list, and then I’ll also add what I’m thinking for, for lunch. Usually it’s some packaged salads and some frozen meals, or maybe a healthy pizza, or something like that, that I can eat over a few days, and I’ll add that to my grocery list. That helps me be more prepared.
Know What Health Snack & Dinner Options Work For You
I also make sure to add healthy snacks on there. I’m a big fan of those pre-packaged snacks that are so popular now. It is more packaging, and they are slightly more expensive, but it helps me keep portions in control. They have hundred-calorie packs of nuts that I really like, crackers like Cheez-Its. Those are my guilty pleasure. I enjoy them, though. It’s fun to just have a little treat. I know Keebler has some cookie ones. That’s a good little treat too, and it’s not that many calories, so you don’t feel bad about having one, once a day, or whatever. That’s another thing I always add to my meal planning list.
Another thing that has really helped me break up the monotony of having to prep and deal with food working from home is crock pot and pressure cooking. With the crock pot, it’s super easy to just dump everything in. I always use crock pot liners, which are pretty inexpensive, and by the aluminum foil at the grocery store, so I have less cleanup, and I’ll make barbecue chicken, lemon chicken, chili, white chicken chili, all kinds of stuff. If I remember to make it at lunch, or maybe 10 AM, then by 5:30 or 6:00, it’s ready, and all I have to do is basically serve it, and that makes it super easy to make something without worrying about it, especially if you’re not a fan of cooking like me.
I did just get a pressure cooker, so I am kind of learning how to use that. It’s pretty much the same idea. In fact, you can even use it as a slow cooker/crock pot, but with pressure cooking, for most meats, it only takes 20 to 30 minutes. Because I’m not a big meat person, again, I like not having to handle cooking the meats or dealing with that, so it’s easier to just plop it in, and plop in my sauces or spices, and I don’t have to worry about it until it’s a ready. There’s a ton of really cool pressure cookers out there that make it super easy. A lot of times, there’s preset buttons; all you have to do is push it, and then it starts, and you’re good to go.
In fact, I just bought ribs this week to make for dinner in the pressure cooker, so we’ll how those turn out. It’s fun to experiment and see what you can get, and I feel like a lot of things that you can make in the crock pot or the pressure cooker are good leftovers for lunch tomorrow. That’s another thing that I do occasionally. I will make bigger dinners that I really enjoy, and refrigerate well, and then I’ll eat those for lunch for a couple days. I know most of you are like me, and having the same thing every day, especially if it’s leftovers, gets tiresome, so I usually only try to have it for one or two days, and them I’m kind of over it. You want to plan your portions accordingly with that.
Healthy Meal Plans For Working From Home
Yeah, so those are my main strategies when it comes to my eating plan and diet when I work from home. I know there’s tons of other options. Some people just get food every day, and that works for them. I’ve seen meal delivery plans. You can get organic lunches and dinners delivered right to your door, and you don’t have to go anywhere. There’s a online grocery store here in Kansas City, where you order all your food online, and then you go to the store and you just put in your ID number, and then you drive to a stall, and they load it right to your car, so it makes it super easy to get your groceries, or meals, ahead of time without having to go to the grocery store. It’s in Olathe. It’s called Zoom In Market, if any of you guys are in Kansas City. I really enjoy it.
Yeah. That’s all that I have. I would love to hear what your eating habits are if you’re a work from homer, or a freelancer. If you have any strategies on eating healthier, planning your meals, or being more organized, I’d love to hear those, too. The hashtag is BYOO, and as always, thank you for listening.
Images via Pixabay