When your work day seems like it’s consuming all of your waking hours, it’s no wonder that you feel like calling out for pizza when you get home. Likewise, having a hectic work schedule means you may not be prepping healthy lunches or indulging in good-for-you breakfasts before you leave the house.
All that eating out and convenience food is going to take its toll though, even in the workplace. Good nutrition can make you more productive, and that can help your career. To get you started eating better, try any or all of these simple tips.
Eat protein in the morning. Bagels, cereal and toast are all easy things to eat in the morning, but those carb-heavy breakfasts are preparing you for sugar cravings and energy crashes later in the day. When you focus on protein in the morning instead, your body won’t start out burning sugars and your energy levels will stay more even. If you don’t have time to make eggs in the morning, boil enough for the week and take one or two to go. Also, don’t rule out more non-traditional breakfast foods, such as smoked salmon -- a classic "brain food" -- or a few slices of turkey.
Do real meal planning, and use your slow cooker. At the end of the busy work day, you’re not necessarily going to feel like putting an elaborate meal on the table. That’s where the slow cooker can really come in handy. Put a few key ingredients into the cooker before work, and after, you’ll have delicious stews, sauces or casseroles ready to eat. To make it as easy as possible, plan out your meals for the week on your off days, using a mix of new recipes and old favorites to keep things fresh.
Love your leftovers. When you’re facing the prospect of a boring sandwich for every lunch, it’s no wonder that you’re spending a mint on eating out at lunch instead. But once you start planning those delicious dinners, another thing falls into place: you’ll likely have leftovers you can eat for lunch. When you’re planning your meals, plan to make enough so that you’ll have some left over for the next day.
Chop some fresh veggies or fruit while you’re preparing dinner. If you’re like a lot of people, you’ll need some snacks to get you through the day -- and to help you avoid the office snack machine. While you’re prepping your dinner, use that time to also prep some veggies, fruits, cheese, salami or other healthy items for a snack. Throw them in a big container in the fridge, and then put some in a smaller container to take to work every day.
Start a snack club. If you have some like-minded co workers, take turns prepping healthy snacks for the office fridge. Do it by the week, the day or whatever works for the size and inclination of the group. The benefit is that you’ll only have to prep snacks once in a while, and you’ll get a variety of healthy treats.
Cook big once a week. If the slow cooker idea is getting a bit stale and you’re still finding it difficult to make that healthy-dinner-turned-leftover-lunch, you can also spend just one evening a week prepping the week’s healthy dinners. Lasagnas and other hot dishes are easy to throw in the freezer for later. Veggies that you’ll use for a stir fry are easy to prep ahead of time and store in the fridge. And of course, when all else fails, there’s always the grill. A piece of chicken and long slices of zucchini, broccoli or cauliflower make an easy, healthy dinner -- and leftover lunch -- anytime.
Naturally, you’re going to be tempted to eat out at lunch and to indulge in pizza or a happy hour dinner from time to time, but by planning ahead, you’ll probably find that you’re saving money and staying a lot healthier.
Image courtesy M. Dolly, Flickr