Combining health and career can be a challenge for many career-focused professionals. Too often, the time available and motivation to dedicate to nutrition seems to be limited. However, putting focus on the weekly diet does not take too much time effort and can even be done on weekends prior to a busy week. Thereby, individuals save time during the week and can focus more on work. In this article I want to share some benefits of precooking food as well as basic tips to start with.
Precooking food vs. eating in canteens or restaurants
When comparing precooking with eating in canteens or restaurants, the focus should be laid lunch as this is the main meal during working time. Here are the five most important advantages of precooking:
- Save time: It is simple math. Spending an hour on weekends to prepare food for the upcoming week does most likely take less time than walking to the canteen and queuing for food five times per week. This results in extra time during the week that can be used to focus on getting work done quicker.
- Eat healthier: Preparing own food for the entire week puts you in a position to know exactly what is inside your dishes. Avoid unhealthy calories hidden in sauces and baked foods that can even increase tiredness and reduce efficiency in the afternoon.
- Reduce stress: Not knowing where and what to eat in the moment of getting hungry before lunch might increase the stress level for some people. The process of finishing an ongoing tasks quickly while simultaneously thinking and organizing the upcoming lunch reduces efficiency at work. A time pressured decision about lunch does also lead people to unhealthy but comfortable lunch options (e.g. a quick burger in the office’s canteen instead of a healthy salad in a bit further away restaurant)
- Save money: A pleasant side effect is that your own cooked food is cheaper on average than going to the canteen or a restaurant every day. You could use the saved money for something useful in your fitness and nutrition routine (For example resistance bands to work out at home or on the go. Check out our reviews for TOMSHOO Resistance Bands and FitBeast Resistance Bands)
- Stay independent: Having your food in your pockets puts you in a position in which you have the free choice of what and when to eat. You are not dependent on colleagues, opening times or limited lunch options of restaurants. Sounds unimportant at first but can actually be a great benefit in the long run.
Precooking food is a feasible task
In my opinion, the investment of one hour of food preparation on the weekend is worth it. To be honest, there really must be a good excuse to convince me not to plan my weekly nutrition ahead. Be it a dispute with the partner, a visit of parents or friends or a spontaneous short trip over the weekend. As long as priorities are set right, there will always be an hour time to prepare your food and start with a good feeling into the upcoming week.
There is one exception though: If your job requires you to travel and stay in a hotel for several days during the week, it is difficult to take the precooked food with you. In this case preparation of food looks a bit differently. Check out the article “Nutrition To Go – Stay Healthy When Traveling For Work” for more information on this topic.
When it comes to packaging your food, you should not make the size of your storage boxes dependent on the size of your refrigerator compartments, but the space of your work bag. Since you carry them every day, make sure that the boxes fit into your bag. I often bring a typical backpack to work which calls for higher and squared boxes. If you are rather a shoulder bag type of person, then longish boxes make sense.
Precook your food on Sundays
Here are three main aspects to consider for precooking:
- The right timing: My working hours are usually from Monday to Friday. As I like to prepare my dishes in peace, my favorite cooking day is Sunday. Thereby, the time of the day is not very relevant and can vary depending on everybody’s priorities. I do not recommend precooking your food after a stressful day or even after work. This is counterproductive as you might skip it or do it without fun.
- Use easy recipes: The whole concept of taking ownership of your nutrition routine does not require you to be a Michelin star cook. Focus on simple dishes with healthy ingredients. You can find a variety of simple recipes with just one click online. When you have found a handful of delicious and healthy dishes, stick with them and continue to improve them over time. Remember to keep it simple.
- Food Selection: Generally, I use a lot of fresh vegetables with a side dish like rice, pasta or potatoes. In addition, I add some proteins like tofu or lenses. In case you want to treat yourself with a delicious piece of meat or fish, keep in mind that these will not last long in the fridge. My recommendation for eating meat and fish is to reduce this to once a week. Based on my own experience, I am convinced that an increased consumption of meat and fish makes you tired and less productive at work. Also, when buying food, make sure you are looking for a good quality. I don’t always use organic food, but it makes sense for vegetables and meat. Quality over quantity is the top priority here.
The additional effort is a worthwhile investment
As you now know, simple precooking can make your day-to-day work significantly easier and you can concentrate more on your career. Try to gradually change your eating habits and you will quickly experience a positive effect in terms of time and health. As often, just getting started and continuously improve over time is the basic principle to follow.
I hope this article was helpful for your meal preparation and lunch habits. If you have additional questions or want to get further insights on that topic, feel free to leave me a comment. I look forward to a lively exchange with you.