I’ve decided that this week on the blog will be themed. And that theme will be food. Slash healthy living. But obviously food’s the more fun subject, so let’s start with that.
When I was getting my MBA, I cooked all the time. And then I started my 9-to-5 and I began eating out more and more. Apparently, I had totally forgotten how to eat healthy while working. Late last fall, I realized I was ordering in or eating out for almost every meal. As a result, I was overeating like woah and spending an absolutely ludicrous amount of money on food. Things were getting out of hand.
Flash forward to the beginning of this month. With the new year (and my mother’s suggestion), I decided to try a little harder (slash just try. period.) to cook in whenever possible. I made this decision not only for my physical health (slash my waistline), but also for my financial health.
What I’m Wearing:
Sweater: Halogen | Necklace: Sugarfix by BaubleBar, c/o | Pants: Ann Taylor
Also Pictured: Crock Pot | Oven Mitts | Silicone Spoons | Food Containers
Figuring out how to eat healthy while working a 9-to-5 can be really tricky. It requires a fair bit of planning and organization… not to mention the willingness to forego your Sunday Funday and instead spend your day doing meal prep.
But it also requires a heavy dose of willpower. It can be hard to say “no thanks – I brought my lunch!” when your colleagues or your friends invite you out for lunch. It’s challenging resisting the urge to pop in for a latte at Starbucks on your morning commute. Learning how to eat healthy while working is honestly really hard.
Take it from me – I’m running a business while also working a full-time job. Learning how to eat healthy while working (and resisting the urge to order in and spend that time working) is just as difficult if not harder!
But – and this is a big but – it pays off. Quickly. And literally.
Last fall, I started off each day with a trip to Starbucks (a grande almond milk chai tea latte + spinach and feta egg white wrap = my jam). Let’s say $10 for Starbucks.
Then, for lunch, I’d either eat at the dining hall at my office (about $15 on average) or go out with friends for lunch (usually $20-$25). We’ll pick the middle and estimate $20 for my average lunch.
After work, I’d grab drinks with a friend ($20) before either eating out or ordering in dinner ($30).
If you haven’t been keeping track, that’s $80. Per day. AKA over $1700 per month – and that’s only including workdays. Weekends were a whole other ball game.
Y’all. For me, that is entirely financially unsustainable. I’m not making spend-$2,000-per-month-on-mediocre-food money. So I decided to get my sh*t together and learn how to eat healthy while working.
How to Eat Healthy While Working a 9-to-5
Starbucks, I love you… but you had to go. It’s not me, it’s you.
For me, getting ready with enough time to make breakfast each and every morning is completely unreasonable and unfathomable. I’m not a morning person. I’m more likely to bring my toothbrush into the kitchen and brush my teeth while making coffee than have enough time to spare to have a leisurely breakfast. But I’m one of those people who has to eat breakfast in the morning before work or I turn into a hangry hangry hippo and you need to watch your arms, legs, and manners.
So instead of unleashing my worst self on the wild on a daily basis or going to Starbucks, each morning, I make my coffee at home, adding in a bit of my favorite lactose-free vanilla creamer from Trader Joe’s and collagen powder (idk if it works, but it makes me feel really fancy).
Each week, I make my favorite broccoli and egg bites in a muffin tin – they’re easy to store, already individually-sized, and you don’t need to change this recipe at all (just use a muffin tin instead of a baking pan). Lately, I’ve been skipping the cheese… so each one is only about 90 calories!
PS if the health incentives aren’t enough for you, consider the environment. I’m no longer using a single-use disposable cup and lid each day. I use reusable food containers for all of my meals and reusable travel mugs for my drinks. So yay for eating healthy, yay for being financially savvy (breakfast now costs me $30 total per month – if that), and yay for doing my little part to help our planet. Yay me.
Lunch at the Office
New year, new me. And, apparently, new me carries an old Athleta shopping bag (they’re reusable!), filled with food, to and from work each day.
I know: I’m such a fashion icon.
Since new me has also vowed to leave the house more frequently, I don’t always find the time over the weekend or at night after work to cook. Thus, my slow cooker has become my best friend as of late.
Each of the recipes listed below makes at least 5 servings (sometimes more!). Typically, I’ll choose 2-3 recipes from the list below, make them in my crock pot Saturday night, Sunday during the day, and Sunday night, pre-portion out about 8 total potions (for 5 days of lunch at work and 3 days of me likely being too lazy to cook dinner), and then I freeze the rest. Then, every few weeks, I unfreeze the spares and have a random week with tons of variety in my meals.
Take that, everybody who thinks meal prep = 0 variety.
Here are a few of the crock pot recipes I’ve made lately:
- Turkey Chili (pictured above; also great on a sweet potato)
- Chicken Enchilada Soup
- Chicken Tikka Masala (I eat this on a bed of cauliflower rice)
- Chicken Cauliflower Curry
Dinner at Home or Out With Friends
If I’m not eating a meal-prepped meal, I’m either cooking in or going out with friends. On weeknights, I tend to be pretty busy… and the last thing I want to do if I get home at 8PM and am absolutely ravenous is spend an hour cooking. Like… no thank you.
So, to keep myself from doing the “easy out” and picking up Halal Guys on my way home or ordering in $30 of my favorite pho, I keep a few easy meals around. My favorites? Salmon with asparagus in lemon juice and eggplant parmesan with zoodles (stay tuned for the recipes for both of these!). Both are quick, easy, and super-healthy. Perfect for the girl who is trying to remember how to eat healthy while working.
Oh and PS you’re probably wondering what happens if I’m so ravenous I can’t even cook a salmon for 20 minutes. Well, that’s why I have at least 3 spare portions of that week’s meal prepped meals laying around. I can just come home, pop one in the microwave, and be stuffing my face in 2 minutes and 30 seconds.
Show Me the Money
If all of that isn’t enough to convince you to follow my lead and learn how to eat healthy while working, let’s talk money.
Remember when I said I was legit hemorrhaging money, averaging $1700 (or more) on food expenses per month last fall?
So far this month, I’ve eaten out 7 times and I’ve gotten drinks with friends 3 times. So what is my food bill thus far for January?
$637.25, as of January 28th.
Yes, you read that right. I’ve saved over $1000 in monthly expenses by meal prepping. And that’s total – including weekends. That $1700 number I mentioned earlier was only counting weekdays.
If that’s not a reason to take my advice and learn how to eat healthy while working, I don’ know what is.