In today’s fast-paced society, the world of work can seem all-consuming. Longer hours and graveyard shifts can leave us feeling utterly drained. The prevalence of zero-hour contracts is increasing, and many workers and their families feel especially vulnerable relying on employment that is not guaranteed. Trying to maintain a healthy diet when you’re tired, time-poor and on a tight budget can feel impossible. Surely you shouldn’t bother spending extra time and money cooking a healthy meal from scratch when you can just bung some cheap ready-meals into the microwave, right? Well, that’s where you would be wrong.
Firstly, eating a wholesome diet does not have to be expensive. All that is required is some careful planning prior to your weekly shop. On the other hand, consistently buying ready meals or resorting to take away is expensive, and the costs of this bad habit will quickly add up.
Neglecting your diet is only going to make you feel more fatigued, and the unnecessary packaging that goes hand in hand with instant meals only serves to hurt the Earth. Try and implement these tricks and tips to getting healthy food on the table into your everyday life instead.
Planning is the difference between having a healthy meal and reaching for that takeaway menu. If you take twenty minutes at the start of the week to plan your menu for the next seven days, you are already well on your way to living healthy, and more frugally.
In a weekly planner or journal, assign a meal to each day and list the ingredients needed for these meals. This way, when you go shopping you are aware of exactly what you need to purchase for the week ahead, and you can avoid any unnecessary spending.
Try to incorporate more meat-free meals into your weekly diet. Eating unprocessed red meat 1-2 times a week is sufficient for a healthy diet, and vegetarian meals can be just as filling if they contain beans, pulses and rice.
If you know the week ahead will leave you minimal time for cooking in the evenings, pre-prepare your meals on your day off. Meal prepping is one of the best ways to stay organised and healthy when you are time-poor and on a budget. You can prep your meals by cooking in bulk and then freezing portions to have throughout the week.
The great thing about healthy meals is that they are so versatile. If you plan carefully, the healthy meals you cook can last you all week. By cooking in bulk, you’ll easily have enough food to take to work the following day for lunch (buying your lunch on your work break may seem quick and easy but in reality, it’s an unnecessary expenditure, and you’ll be less inclined to purchase something healthy if you are surrounded by the processed food available on the high street).
Consider purchasing cheaper cuts of meat from your local butcher, for maximum nutrients at a lower cost. It is unfortunate that offal has such negative connotations, as they are in no way deserved. People seem to forget that products like paté, foie gras and sweetbreads belong in the offal category – despite all three items being considered delicacies worldwide!
Liver is rich in iron (a nutrient especially beneficial for women) and vitamin B, and kidney is a good source of protein and vitamin A. Leftover vegetables and meat from a roast the night before can easily be turned into a delicious healthy soup the next day. And don’t be afraid to freeze your leftovers so you can use them later! There is no point buying healthy produce if it’s destination is the rubbish bin.
Technology is Your Friend
If the thought of getting nutritious food on the table seven days a week is overwhelming, let technology be your friend. There are thousands of free apps that are designed to make healthy eating easier and best of all, you can download straight to your phone.
Try downloading some free healthy recipe apps. These will help you when you feel lacking in inspiration and push you to cook with different foods. Kale quite literally became the flavour of the month a while back, and overnight it seemed to appear on every hipster menu in town. Before it’s phenomenal rise in popularity it was considered to be quite a bitter-tasting, run-of-the-mill vegetable. Using apps to explore healthy cuisine can potentially introduce you to new favourites.
You may not have considered using tasking apps to get your through the week, but they can be real lifesavers. Tasking apps (such as Airtasker, which is due to finally arrive in the UK this year) are fantastic because they allow you to stay on track, no matter how busy you get. If you don’t have time to do a weekly shop, you don’t have to abandon your meticulous planning. Simply auction off the task to a willing Tasker on the app. If the perfect pictures of meal prep you see on social media intimidate you, arrange for a Tasker to drop by and show you how it’s done. When it comes to balancing a busy work life and a healthy diet, technology is here to help.
When we are used to giving our all at work, it can be difficult to summon the energy to take care of our bodies at home. But getting a healthy meal onto the table throughout the week is totally possible, with the help of a little planning and practice.
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