Healthy eating as a freelancer is easier said than done. Yes you work from home so technically you have the advantage of a kitchen, but that’s just one part of the puzzle. Eating well requires preparation and routine. When a deadline is looming, eating kale isn’t exactly top of the priority list.
We took to social media to find out what our community of freelancers eat while on the job and as suspected, the majority said they grab a meal deal or exist on cereal bars due to time constraints.
If you’re finding yourself reaching for convenience food instead of feeding your brain and falling prey to the lure of ready meals, read on to find out how to stay healthy when working from home. We’ve covered breakfast, lunch and snacks.
Working from home healthy breakfasts
Most people find that they are most productive in the morning. This is probably because you’re fresh out of bed before the noise and toil of the world has had a chance to wear you down. Not that we’re cynical or anything 😂.
Studies show that breakfast can improve concentration and memory so if we want to be at our most productive we need to fuel our bodies accordingly. Here are a few healthy breakfast ideas which are ideal when you are working from home. You can prepare the following self-explanatory recipes in minutes.
Banana, peanut butter and cinnamon on wholegrain rice cakes / Vegan
Peanut butter is life. It’s also high in energy, loaded with protein and full of fibre. Bananas are great for heart health and metabolism, cinnamon adds sweetness and brown rice is one of the best sources of carbohydrate out there.
This recipe takes less than 2 minutes to prepare and will fill you up until lunchtime. It’s also very reasonable if you’re on a budget. This writers swears by the combination, but if you can’t stand the idea of rice cakes you could opt for wholemeal bread. Or, omit the carbs altogether and go for extra fruit.
Boiled eggs and avocado on rye bread / Vegetarian
Rye bread tends to divide opinion but it’s one of those foods that gets better with time. Sort of like a fine wine… Yeah right, who are we kidding? Rye bread is absolutely nothing like wine. But it is extremely good for you and longer lasting than your usual shop bought bread. Packed with magnesium and good for heart health, rye bread can also reduce cholesterol.
Avocado has jumped the shark in terms of popularity. These days it’s the subject of dread amongst foodies who are fed up with seeing row upon row of perfectly ripe Instagram content. However, there’s a reason why this plant has soared to fame- it’s full of healthy fats, tastes great and is loaded with nutrients. Add a hard boiled egg or two to the mix and a pinch of black pepper for a filling breakfast that won’t break the bank.
Breakfast bowl / Vegetarian
These breakfast bowls are super easy to assemble and loaded with happy nutrients that’ll keep you alive and kicking during the morning period. For maximum convenience, go for frozen fruit – it’ll last longer, requires no chopping and can be defrosted overnight. Top with some yoghurt and chia seeds and you’re in business.
Working from home healthy lunches
You might assume that working from home would afford you the luxury of spending hours in the kitchen crafting a red pepper hummus to rival the likes of Marks and Sparks. The reality is that freelancers are more likely to prioritise looming deadlines or meetings with clients, especially when lunch falls during peak productive hours. It’s often more tempting to grab a handful of sausage rolls that you know will fill you up fast. Let’s not forget that lunch is also probably the only opportunity in the working day to stretch those legs and leave the house, making the prospect of cooking ever more unlikely.
However, there are plenty of quick and healthy working from lunches which can be prepared in record time and won’t leave you feeling bloated and lethargic.
Prepare these working from home lunches the night before and wave goodbye to sad looking sandwiches.
Buddha bowls / Vegetarian
Buddha bowls are the holy grail of healthy work lunches from home. Choose your grain (we like chickpeas) and add a number of colourful veggies to the mix. Top with feta, hummus, some sauce or a mix of all three.
There really aren’t any rules to buddha bowls beyond trying to pack as many colourful veggies in as possible and choosing combinations that you like. We’ve noted this recipe as vegetarian, but if you’re a meat fiend you can easily add some to the mix. Equally, leave out the meat and dairy for a vegan option.
Sadaf’s saffron salmon and seasonal greens / Pescatarian
The great thing about being a permanent staff member at PeoplePerHour is the opportunity to work remotely. We asked our office foodie, Sadaf to share her go-to healthy working from home lunch. This recipe takes a little longer than all the others featured here, but is so delicious you could also have it for dinner and lunch the next day.
Sadaf says, “Fish is high in omega-3 and great for concentration levels. To make this recipe, I bake tenderstem broccoli in olive oil for 20 minutes with lots of salt and pepper. For the salmon I mix a pinch of crushed saffron with hot water, lime juice, salt, pepper and olive oil and bake for around 20-25 minutes. I also like to prepare a side salad of green mixed leaves with balsamic vinegar. If you want to add carbs you could swap the salad for sweet potato wedges- these will take around 30 minutes in the oven.”
Zell’s 5 minute savage salad / Vegetarian
This salad is bursting with flavour and requires zero cooking or faff. Simply top a bed of mixed leaves with cherry tomatoes, roasted peppers from a jar, mozzarella balls, pomegranate seeds and grated carrot. We’ve named it a 5 minute salad but in reality it can probably be prepared in the time it takes to boil a kettle. You don’t really need to add a sauce or dressing but this writer can’t resist a dollop of hummus.
Working from home healthy snacks
Did you know that popcorn contains higher quantities of the antioxidant polyphenols than most fruit and vegetables? As well as this, popcorn is super low calorie – the average bag contains around 70 kcals. You can make this yourself at home with a wok (be sure to cover the lid) or choose a multi-pack from the local supermarket.
Below, we’ve listed a number of energy raising snacks that’ll give you a boost during the dreaded graveyard hour.
- Sliced apple and peanut butter
- Carrot sticks and hummus
- Dark chocolate – limited to a couple of squares- we see you, chocoholic!
Healthy eating advice from our freelance community
As mentioned earlier in this blog post, we asked our community of freelancers for tips and advice on what to eat for lunch when working from home.
Sandrine B said, “I usually put some salad in a pita bread or a tortilla. For example: cucumber, radishes, lettuce, tomatoes, bits of cheese and boiled eggs. It mixes convenience with healthy. I try to go outside while I’m eating (even just the balcony), so I change my surroundings. I find that the best way not to eat crap is to prepare in advance.”
Jasna N said, “I like to have protein packed and frozen in portions so it’s ready to toss into a frying pan with some veggies. I always have salad ingredients on hand too. If I’m in a pinch I just spread some homemade hummus on a couple of rice cakes and add a few olives or sundried tomatoes. For a snack I usually have nuts in my desk draw. It’s not easy, but I tend to prepare and pack food after grocery shopping so I’m always ready to put together a quick, relatively healthy meal when working from home.
Nourhan said, “I’ve asked a lot of my friends and because I’m always busy and I’ve tonnes of active projects they advise me to prepare all day meals in the night so I can jump to the fridge any time, heating, and just eat it! This helps me to stick to a healthy diet when working from home.”
Drinking 8 large glasses of water a day is the recommended amount to prevent dehydration. Not drinking enough water can negatively impact brain function and energy levels, so be sure to stay hydrated in addition to a healthy diet.
Aswell as drinking enough, try to reach the government recommended 10,000 steps a day. This is roughly an hour and 20 minutes worth of walking. Most phones have built-in step counters which can help you to track your progress.