Working from home has become the new norm and is something we’re still adapting to. With a change in work environment comes the need to create new routines to maximise our productivity, something that has declined for many of us as we meet new distractions (such as the fridge!). With unlimited access to food, not only are we eating more, but also spending more money. Here are our top 5 tips to ace your nutrition while working from home without putting a hole in your wallet.
1. Plan your Meals and Snacks for the Week
Making a plan of what you’ll eat for both meals and snacks through the week is one of the best ways to eat well while #WFH.
The first step is mapping out what you would like to have for meals and snacks – don’t forget the healthy snacks! This is more of a skeleton outline rather than a restrictive plan. Spending even a small amount of time thinking about what you want to eat (i.e. foods to help you meet your goals), will give you the best chance of executing it well.
Having a plan of what you’ll eat also helps with knowing what you need to buy. This can help alleviate any stress that may come with deciding what to put on the table. It can also prevent that last-minute decision to order take-away because it’s the easiest decision. By planning, you can tailor your meals to meet your nutrition goals and budget.
Dedicating time and energy to nailing your nutrition through creating a plan is no different to nailing your budget through the creating of a spending plan!
To help you nail your nutrition and to take the work out of it for you, the team at H&PC have created a weekly meal planner and shopping list for you to download, which is available at the bottom of our 3 Ways to Ace Your Nutrition article.
2. Create a Shopping List
Creating a shopping list is a great way to ace your nutrition while working from home. This can be a piece of paper, a fancy meal planner or a list on your phone – whatever works best for you. H&PC have even created a planner you can download here.
When we go shopping without a plan, we tend to leave spending much more money than we expected and with more unnecessary high energy discretionary foods. This becomes even more of a problem if we are shopping while hungry! Making a plan and stocking up on healthy, nutritious foods makes it easier for us to achieve our nutrition goals while WFH.
A grocery list will help you fill up your trolley, and later your fridge and pantry, with nutritious foods. Plus it will save you time when walking through the aisles, and remove the temptation to spend money on extra foods. A good tip is to try and do most of your shopping around the perimeter of the store, which is where a majority of the ingredients you need (for best health) will be.
Reducing your time at the supermarket is not only beneficial for productivity at home, but also best for everyone during this time!
3. Don’t forget the Snacks!
You’re not the only person whose fridge is talking to them all day at home, trust us! This is a struggle many of us face while WFH. Fear not, we have a few nutrition strategies up our sleeves, to help you get this under control.
Make sure you have healthy snacks available! These are snacks that keep you satisfied between meals and prevent unnecessary over-snacking. Snack time is where many people struggle with their nutrition, but with a little bit of thought and planning, can be where you have the biggest nutritional wins!
The first step is knowing what a healthy snack looks like. The second step is making the healthy snack available by including them in your weekly meal plan and shopping list. The final step is making sure you enjoy the snack! It must be both delicious and nutritious – that’s the only rule!
A healthy snack = Quality Protein + Colour + whole grains + healthy fat
- Quality protein – keeps our appetites satisfied
- Colour (i.e. fruit & veg) – contain ALLL the micronutrients, fibre (and 95% of us don’t eat enough)
- Whole grains – for more fibre and to manage our energy levels
- Healthy Fats (In small amounts) – also help keep us satisfied and our blood sugar levels balanced
- Mezze Plate – boiled egg, cheese, veggie sticks, hummus and a handful of nuts
- Greek yoghurt with fruit and mixed nuts
- Wholegrain crackers w/ ham, cheese, tomato & avocado
- Rye crackers w/ hard-boiled egg + 1/4 avocado
- Rice cakes with cream cheese, smoked salmon & cucumber
For more snack ideas, head to our article on Best Snacks When Working From Home.
Preparing snacks (as well as meals) at the start of the day or week is a great habit to get into. This may include cutting up some veggie sticks, portioning out some nuts, roasting some veggies or chopping up some fresh fruit. This isn’t anything extreme but takes the effort out of preparing food and makes it more enticing to eat.
People who wing it tend to struggle at snack time because they don’t prepare and plan. A nutritious snack plays an important role in sustaining our energy levels, mental concentration and appetite. Having a well-balanced (and tasty – equally important) snack available, increases the likely hood you’ll consuming.
“Failing to prepare is preparing to fail” – a saying that couldn’t be more true when it comes to failing or nailing snack time!
4. Get Creative With Your Eating
Now is the perfect time to experiment with your eating. One positive nutritional change you may like to play with for your health AND the sustainability of the planet, is eating more plant-based proteins. Not only will it benefit your health and the environment, but it will also have a positive impact on your wallet.
By no means are we suggesting you watch a certain documentary and change the whole way you eat overnight (please don’t do that!). We are simply referring to finding ways you may be able to add more plant-based meals or protein to you diet.
This doesn’t necessarily mean replacing animal protein, while this is something you may like to play with, you can also add plant protein in addition to animal protein. For example, next time you are making spaghetti bolognaise try going 50:50 with lean minced meat and a can of lentils. You could also mix lean mince with a can of five-bean mix in a burrito bowl, or chicken with a can of chickpeas to a curry– the possibilities are endless! By doing so, you’re increasing the amount of fibre (yay for gut health!), and reducing the cost per serve, without compromising on the flavour – we promise!
Adding in plant-based proteins will help you to cut back on meat, reduce financial strain on your wallet, and help the planet. Some examples of plant-based proteins include:
- Black beans, kidney beans, five beans – beans in general (you get the jist!)
- Free-range eggs
- Unsweetened yoghurt or milk
You can also focus on buying fresh seasonal produce (which is available in abundance!). Everyone seems to be going crazy over frozen food, putting all the fresh produce at risk of waste. We’re very fortunate in Australia to have such good quality fresh produce available, so make the most of it!
5. Healthy is Not More Expensive (not a tip, just a fact!)
Now is the time to stop telling yourself that healthy has to be more expensive. This is not the case! Consider this:
- Bananas are ~ $3/kg vs a slice of banana bread ~ $12/kg
- 150g of potatoes is 60c vs the same amount of potato crisps is $2.90
- 30g of rolled oats is 15c, vs the same quantity of a breakfast bar is 60c
- 100g fresh chicken is 40c vs 100g of BBQ chicken is 55c vs 100g pre-made kebab is $1.40
- 100g of apples is 60c vs 100g of sultanas is $1.25 vs 100g fruit bar is $1.90 vs 100g chocolate bar is $4.30
Next time you go to the shops, take these tips on board and buy all the basics you need (those ones you wrote on that list) before considering other extra foods, and whether they fit into your budget or not.