Before I started my health kick I used to open the fridge door at work at look at the shelves of homemade lunches with envy. There they stood, packed lovingly the night before full of healthy looking goodness. I wanted to be like those who made at work food look so easy.
The owners of this food also didn’t have to spend 20 minutes of precious lunchtime hunting for something reasonably healthy to eat. And then pay $15 for the privilege of enjoying said meal.
Fortunately, like all those who had come before me, after some investigation I realised that I too could do the food from home thing. All it would take is a little planning, some consideration and confidence and of course, lots of experimentation!
You see, bringing healthy, delicious food from home isn’t actually that hard (I know – shock horror!) you just have to prioritise it and apply some savvy organisation tips to the process.
Two years later and I’m now a food prep queen (if I don’t say so myself) and it’s my honour to invite you into the elusive club.
The following tips are by bible on the topic. If you do follow my well-tested advice, make sure you share some snaps of your at work lunch wins. Soon you too will be the envy of everyone else in the office 😉 Hoorah for that!
- Plan your food weekly: On Saturday mornings I sit down for an hour to cruise through my collection of recipe books and the food ideas I’ve saved throughout the week. I then check out the fridge to see what left overs we have from last week’s shop before planning what I’ll make this week. To plan our meals I use an excel document with the days of the week across the top, and the meal times down the left hand side. I plot out our meals (including snacks) and make a shopping list as I go. Planning this way means I only have to go to the shops once (hallelujah). It also gives me more time on Sunday mornings to cruise my local farmers’ markets tasting all the delicious testers on offer (a serious highlight of my week!). Budgeting is also much easier to manage and this approach eliminates the mid-week ‘what do I cook tonight’ freak out which can throw your entire taking lunch to work plan out the window. Planning doesn’t take a lot of time but it’s well worth the effort, you just have to prioritise it.
- Cook in BIG batches: While the above tip is key, so is this one! No one wants to cook every day – even if you enjoy standing in the kitchen it will eventually become a drag! The answer? Cook as much as you can at once! I like to dedicate my Sunday afternoons to cooking. I set aside a few hours to get all the basics (rice, beetroot, pumpkin etc), done for the next few days. I often do lunches for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday all in one go. I then block out my Wednesday nights for Thursday and Friday’s meals. By approaching it this way, you’re not a slave to the oven after a long day’s work.
- Save glass jars and use them as your containers: Ehk plastic! Did you know that most plastics are full of harmful toxins that can be released when heated? Your delicious veggie lasagna isn’t looking so pretty now, is it? These toxins can disrupt your body in lots of crazy ways, so it’s best to avoid them if at all possible. The best way to carry your food to work? Be creative and use recycled glass containers. I specifically buy a certain type of coconut oil because it comes in an awesome glass jar. Keep an eye out for opportunities like this when doing your shopping. It’s nice to the environment and super friendly on your hip-pocket too.
- Schedule cooking like a meeting: We all say we don’t have time to cook, but there’s always time to watch The Bachelor, isn’t there? 😉 Schedule your cooking like a meeting and stick to it! Food prep for the week can be done in 2-3 cooking sessions max, so it doesn’t have to be laboursome. Put it in your diary when you do your weekly food plan. With your big batches already done on the weekend, your week night cooking should really only be restricted to meats and smaller items.
- Don’t be afraid to mix up your recipes: It’s easy to get into a rhythm of cooking the same thing week in, week out. While this may be fine to start with when first building your skills, you’ll quickly get very bored and ditch the home made meal for something more enticing from the downstairs cafeteria. You don’t want to do this! My tip: find recipes that are easy and give them a go, often! Lola Berry’s cookbooks are an amazing place to start.
See! It’s not that hard is it. 🙂