Working From Home: A great opportunity to eat healthier

Covid 19 has affected people all over the world. One of the consequences of the pandemic is that a large proportion of people are now working from home. This can lead to an expanding waistline for several reasons: burning less calories during the day without a daily commute; the cancellation and disruption to exercise classes and gym schedules; and easy access to limitless calories within arm’s length in the form of your own kitchen.

Eating Healthier

Working from home also creates a huge opportunity to more towards dietary excellence. From personal experience, commuting to an office every day removed some of the control I had over my diet. Without the time to bring a home prepared meal to work with you and/or facilities to reheat this meal, you are often constrained by the dining options available within close proximity of your office. With the time saved from not having a daily commute, many people have additional hours in the week available. We can can avail of this time to prepare healthy meals, and with ready access to your own kitchen, meals can be stored and re-heated conveniently. Having more control over the food you eat on a daily basis provides more control over your health and well-being.   

Learn to cook healthy meals

Taking some time to learn to cook healthy meals is a massively beneficial investment in your long term health. Most healthy meals are relatively easy to prepare. For the absolute novice, there are many recipe videos available online that you can follow along to. Building an inventory of “go to” healthy recipes is something that is easy to do with some preparation and planning. It involves searching for suitable recipes, trying them, and storing for future reference if you like them. This serves as the foundation of a solid nutrition plan.

Prepare by buying in advance

There is an old saying that is a bit of a cliché at this stage but still holds true, and that is, “fail to prepare, prepare to fail”. Or is it “fail to plan, plan to fail?”. Something along those lines anyway. You are much more likely to follow a healthy eating plan if you have the ingredients to hand. If you need to run to the store to purchase half the ingredients every time you prepare a meal, you may be more likely to just grab something quick and convenient.

Having a good idea of the meals you are going to cook for the week ahead and buying all of the ingredients in advance is advisable, to ensure you have everything on hand when you go to cook a meal. With good planning, you can ensure that all of the common staple ingredients such as herbs and spices are stocked up in your press before you go shopping. These can be forgotten as you may only need a pinch for each meal. I have felt this pain many times, such as being half way through a chili recipe and discovering that the brown cumin powder on the inside of the cumin jar was hiding the reality that the contents of the jar were empty.

Do not buy unhealthy snacks

One of the hazards of working from home is ready access to your entire pantry. If you have just finished a stressful call and are searching your pantry for a quick fix, you may be more likely to reach for the unhealthy snacks when your willpower is low. It is better not to buy them in the fist place. Conversely, having healthy snacks such as fresh fruits available makes it easier to reach for these when you are hungry.  

Batch cook

Batch cooking meals by cooking more portions than you need, and keeping the remainder for future meals, can help you achieve “economies of scale” in the kitchen. You can spread the initial time investment over several meals, since you only need to re-heat the additional portions. You can then store additional portions in the fridge or freezer, and then reheat a healthy meal in minutes. This also works great for salads, since you can prepare a big salad in advance, and keep in the fridge for eating during the week. This takes the hassle out of busy work day lunches.

A lot of the recipes I make are suitable for batch cooking. Below are some of the ones we often make in batches in our household.

Red Lentil Dahl

Veggie Chili

Veggie Shephard’s Pie

Minestrone Soup

Benefits

Eating a healthier diet has a multitude of benefits, improving health and well-being both physically and mentally. Its also associated with a decrease in risk for many chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.

Home cooked meals, with a focus on minimally processed plant foods, are usually less calorie dense than pre-prepared foods. This means you can eat more and feel full, while consuming less calories. This can help to lose a few unwanted pounds if that is your goal. My recipes focus on plant-based ingredients. If you include animal products in your meals, the general dietary recommendation is that lean protein sources should be chosen, with limited red meat and avoidance of processed meats. One thing to note is that oils do not count as minimally processed plant foods. Oil (and fat) is the most calorie dense food you can consume at 120 calories per tablespoon. I recommend using oils sparingly in recipes, or not at all.

You can also save a lot of money by preparing your own meals. Ingredients for meals like vegetable curries, pasta dishes, bean chilis and lentil dahls are inexpensive. Each portion can work out at only a small fraction of what you would spend on buying pre-prepared meals. You get to eat healthier and save money, a win win situation.

Get healthier, lose a few pounds (in weight), gain a few pounds (in cash). It’s time to use the opportunity provided from working from home to get cooking.

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