We all know that eating healthy at the office is always hard. There’s no time for lunch, snacks are from the vending machine because it’s closest to our desk, etc. At least these are the lies we keep telling ourselves. With people being called back to the office, this trend will most probably continue. To maintain healthy eating habits isn’t that hard, however, a lot of people find excuses to make the extra move.
The result? Obesity, demotivation, dehydration, anxiety, less money in the pocket. Doesn’t sound cool and promising, right? Well, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Maintaining healthy eating habits at the office isn’t hard
Yes, you heard it right, it isn’t hard. I know, I know: you don’t have time for buying quality food and snacks, because you are busy working or going out with friends. To work and to go out with friends are two very important activities our brains and wallets adore. However, they shouldn’t come with such a high price – both figuratively and literally.
One very neat and niche way to maintain healthy eating habits is to prepare your food by yourself at home. It’s definitely more time consuming than going down the hallway to the vending machine, but it’s definitely more cheap and healthy. Why so, you may ask? Because if you buy your food by yourself, you will know what you bought. Also, cooking a meal at home can cost you between 2 and 5 times less, depending on the restaurant.
What is processed food and why would we avoid it?
When you go out to the grocery store, you can buy whatever you want. However, try to concentrate on the essentials and avoid processed food. Processed food is everything that is a byproduct of another core ingredient and is having its nutritional composition changed.
For example, when we cook or bake food, we are processing it. The difference is that we bought the ingredients in the first place and then cooked the food. So, why we don’t cook anymore, instead of buying processed (already cooked) food? Because it’s easy. But is it healthy? I would say rarely.
The processed food we find in the grocery stores is often prepared and treated with saturated fats and other cheap ingredients. The reason behind that is basically the industry and the market. The demand is high, so companies are finding new ways to process food faster and cheaper for mass production. As a result, they are having their revenues skyrocketing, because of the low cost for the production of their product.
As a result, we have processed food that contains nutrients that are not natural. It tastes delicious because it was designed to but this doesn’t mean that it’s healthy. If you take a brief look at the ingredients written on the package, you will be surprised. How many of them do you recognize as something you can find in nature?
My point exactly.
Preparing food at home isn’t that hard
Yes, you heard it right: preparing food at home isn’t that hard. You just have to be a bit more organized and dedicated. At our household, we’ve dedicated Sundays to food prep. All the cooking and preparation happen in 2 hours every Sunday and we’re done for the next 4-5 days. Most of our grocery shopping is done also during the weekend so that we’re ready for the food prep Sunday.
How would you know what to buy for a 1 week worth of cooking meals and snacks? Well, as it is with everything – you have to plan it. Sit down, write a list with all of the things you would like to eat for the next 5 days, and check which of the ingredients you don’t have right now. One thing we like to do is buying more of certain stuff so that we could cook a few different meals with it.
As an example, a chicken bon fillet you can throw in the frying pan with a bit of olive oil, white wine, salt, and pepper for Monday. Another take could be to use spicy red pepper and powder the bon fillet and put it in the oven. Cook some rice, add to one or the other (or both) and you’re done for Monday and Thursday. Remember, adding spices can add to the variety of your meals.
Homemade snacks can be amazing
Maintaining healthy eating habits can’t be achieved without healthy snacks. As we rarely can find healthy snacks in the vending machine or at the grocery store, it’s better to prepare them ourselves. There are multiple ways of doing that and I’m sure you will never get bored out of these.
Here is a list of 5 homemade snacks you can definitely prepare easily and quickly:
- Popcorn – yes, you read that right. Just don’t buy them from the store already cooked. Get your corn from the store, add some oil and salt, put everything in the pot, and wait a few minutes. As soon as the popping sounds start to go down, remove the pot from the stove.
- Hummus and slices of cucumber and pepper. Bonus points if you can prepare the hummus at home.
- Avocado – slice it on 2, add a little of olive oil, salt, and pepper and you are good to go. You can eat it with a spoon.
- Green salad and chicken bon fillet – there isn’t much to say here, this one should be pretty straightforward.
- Boiled eggs. Yep, easy as that.
All of these snacks contain natural nutrients, fats, proteins, and carbs. You can prepare them quite easily and they will help you maintain healthy eating habits.
Food storage and transportation
I would say this is quite an important aspect of the whole food prep and most people would see here the ideal excuse to avoid preparing food at home. There are many types and brands of food storage containers. First things first, if you have an oven in your office, you wouldn’t need a special thermal lunch bag. For storage containers, I would avoid the plastic ones.
Plastic tends to preserve the odor and color of the food that was in it last time. Steel containers could add a metallic taste to the food as well. If you’re not okay with these two options, then I would suggest you getting a borosilicate container. I bought mine for the equivalent of €10 – it is a 2L container that could hold a pretty big lunch. Snacks containers of the same type but smaller are available even cheaper.
Yes, these are not a good idea for soups and other liquids, but for general use they are perfect. Borosilicate glass is also harder to break, so you shouldn’t care much about that part.
Maintaining healthy eating habits is cheap
Preparing food at home can be far cheaper than buying it from the vending machine or the restaurant near the office. Cooking larger amounts of food at home will allow you to distribute that food for multiple meals. Even if you eat one meal no more than twice a week, you can achieve enough variety for a fraction of the price you would pay at a restaurant.
We’ve calculated the cost of some of the meals we cook at home: they are 2-3 times cheaper than eating at a restaurant on average. This means that we’re not only eating healthier, but we’re also eating cheaper. I can’t calculate accurately the amount of money I saved from buying food and snacks at the office, but I can say that I definitely notice these savings.
In normal weeks, I was spending about €10-15 for snacks at the office only. A week of lunches at the office costs me usually another €15-20. That’s €30 on average/week or €120/month. As soon as we started to prepare our food at home, about a half of these €120/month I saved. About a half, because there was also a bump in the cost of our groceries. However, that helps me to maintain healthy eating habits and I still have money left.
Isn’t this a win-win?
Which are the meals and snacks you love to prepare at home? Share them with us in the comment section down below!