I always try my best to eat well. For me that means plenty of home cooked meals and lots of fruit and veg. I try to keep ready meals and takeaways to a minimum. Not just for health reasons but mainly because of the damage they can do to my food budget. Since starting my new job I’ve found that nothing tests your resolve to prepare your own food and avoid takeaways more than working shifts! Firstly because juggling different shifts is tiring in itself. Secondly because it takes extra organisation when you are working a mix of earlies, lates, overnights and random weekend days. You need to work out where you will be at mealtimes for a start, home or work. The convenience of throwing a ready meal in the microwave or picking something up on the way home starts chipping away at your resolve. I think we have all been there! You cave in, pick up a portion of fish and chips on the way home and devour it while guiltily thinking about the fresh and healthy ingredients in the fridge. The stir fry will have to wait another day! You can tell I’m speaking from personal experience here…
There has to be a better way right?
Its taken me a few weeks of discovering what works for me and what doesn’t. The first thing I do is open my diary and plot out when I will be at home and when I am working. I plan out a morning/afternoon when I have a bit of time to collect my shopping and do some prep work. I’ve started using the click and collect service that most of the bigger supermarkets offer and its made a big difference! No wandering around the shop or forgetting my list. I plan my meals and snacks for the week, order the ingredients and choose a time to pick it up the next day. Here is the system I use to plan my meals.
My grocery planning list
I order my groceries by working through this bullet point list:
Weekly essentials: Milk, eggs, bread etc that I use every week. I also check that I have enough teabags, pasta and other items that I use daily but come in big packs.
Meal prep recipes: More about this below. I choose the recipes I’ll be prepping and order the ingredients.
Day off recipes: For meals that I’m not prepping ahead. For example on my days off when I have more time and energy. My go-to’s are things like stir fry or pasta bake. I often make enough for two and fridge/freeze leftovers for another time.
Quick/cheat recipes: For days when I’ll be at home but might not have much time/energy to cook. I buy fresh filled pasta or gnocchi which cooks in minutes and serve with pasta sauce. I also keep frozen mash which goes with anything and frozen fish or chicken in batter for cheat days. Hey its better than going to the fish shop!
Snacks: Fresh fruit, veg to cut into sticks, hummus, cheese and crackers, popcorn etc. I try to vary my snacks so that it doesn’t all go out of date at the same time! I used to buy fruit and berries for the week, only for it all to go moldy by day 4. Now I eat the fruit first and the longer lasting snacks later in the week.
With regards to meal prepping, I choose three or four recipes. Something for breakfast, usually bacon and egg cups, pictured below. I make twelve using a muffin tin and divide them into bags of two. Then I put three portions in the fridge and three in the freezer for whenever I need them. All links to recipes can be found in my pinterest board here.
Next I choose a soup or salad that I can batch prep for lunches. Then one or two dinner recipes that can be portioned out and split between the fridge and freezer. I have tried big meal prep sessions in the past but they leave me feeling burnt out. Also I have limited fridge and freezer space as I live in a house share so it isn’t practical for me to prepare a weeks worth of food at once. If I choose two dinner recipes I don’t cook them both at once. I prep my breakfast, lunch and one dinner recipe as soon as I get back from the shops. Then I check my shifts and choose a day later in the week when I’ll be home at dinner time. On that day I cook the second recipe and fridge/freeze the extra portions. I find this works well for me as I don’t get overwhelmed by cooking several things at once and it makes the most of my storage space.
Tips for eating well while working shifts
Plan ahead: Check which days/hours you are working and plan accordingly. Having something ready to heat up when you get home makes it so much easier to stick to eating healthy.
Have backups: I keep fresh pasta or gnocchi for days when I need something quick and comforting. There will be days when for whatever reason you don’t want the meal you have prepped. Having a backup stops me from giving up and ordering takeaway. Scrambled eggs on toast is another of my backups. Choose a couple of backups of your own and have the ingredients on hand for those “everything has gone tits up and I need comfort food” days. We all have those right?
Pack snacks: I find taking healthy snacks to work helps me stay on track. It keeps my blood sugar right (mine sometimes jumps up and down making me feel shaky, light headed and grumpy) and stops me reaching for the biscuit tin.
Keep a bit of variety: This ties in with the backups. Having a few options to choose from, such as your prepped meals, leftovers in the freezer and your backups stops it from getting too repetitive. I also switch up which recipes I am prepping from week to week so I don’t get bored.
Do you work shifts? How do you stay on track with eating healthy? Let me know in the comments below =)
October already? I shouldn’t complain, autumn is my favourite season. I would much rather wear a cuddly jumper and curl up with a hot cup of tea and a good book than sunbathe in shorts and a crop top. Don’t get me wrong, I love it when its sunny up to a point but once I get too hot I feel frazzled and grumpy. This summer was crazy hot so although I was very happy to get a decent tan, I’m inwardly celebrating that colder weather is coming!
I’ve been having a think about what I want to achieve in October. The blog is still a baby, just nine days old so I want to focus on being consistent with posting and growing an audience. So its not just me sitting here chatting to myself! Problem is I don’t know what a challenging yet still realistic target would be, I’m very much learning as I go along. Which is good in a way because that was the whole premise of Educating Hayley in the first place! However it does mean I’m a bit clueless at the moment…
Post at least twice a week
Get to grips with Twitter and Pinterest
Have 500 site views over the month
I’m keeping my focus on better sleep and how much caffeine I’m drinking. I also want to get back into reading, I don’t make time to sit and read a book anymore. Time to change that.
Keep tracking sleep and caffeine intake in my bullet journal
Stick to no more than 3 caffeinated drinks a day
Finish reading at least two books
I’m making this month the month of organisation! Moving to another city is imminent, as soon as I secure a job I’ll have to pack up and drive to Yorkshire. At the moment its a waiting game. I hate waiting games! But if I can get the majority of my things sorted out and ready to go then that’s one less thing to worry about.
Pack up anything that I don’t need right now, summer clothes etc.
Make a page in my bullet journal for everything that needs doing before I move.
Declutter, declutter, declutter!
I’m going to make that do for this month. Hopefully I can reach all these goals and set bigger ones next month. I also hope to have moved by then but I have no guarantees. What are your goals for October? Let me know below =)
Every plan has to start somewhere. The problem I have is I normally do too much, too fast and get burnt out and frustrated. In my first post I came up with a list of skills and habits that I think (and hope) will make my life easier. Now I’m trying to come up with a proper plan instead of the “flying by the seat of my pants” style I normally go with. For each goal I’m going to take a couple of little steps to get me started. At the moment I’m between jobs and once I get a job I’ll be moving to another city a couple of hours away, so it makes sense to start putting things into place now before life goes manic again. Plus in the meantime it gives me something to focus on, I’m not used to having so much spare time!
Goal 1: Learn how to plan and prep meals ahead
Once I start working again, the plan is to have work lunches and dinners ready to go. If it’s waiting for me to heat and eat, I will. Have you ever had a decision to make, not an important one, something trivial like what to wear or what to eat and felt completely overwhelmed by choice? Might just be me but sometimes making a choice is the exhausting part! If my meals are already prepped, I don’t have to think about it. “This is what I’ve prepped so this is what I’m eating”. There’s no temptation to order a takeaway or binge on something unhealthy because the quickest and easiest option is right in front of me. While I’m waiting to move I want to try out some recipes that I think would work well for meal prepping. Work out what I like and what I don’t so that when life gets crazy again I know what my favourite recipes are and how to cook them. I’ve also recently bought a soup maker. Is there anything better than a mug of hot soup on a cold autumn day? Plus if I make it myself I know exactly what is in it, so I’m going to get to grips with using that too.
Learn more about meal prepping. Read blog posts, watch videos, look through cook books and magazines.
Choose a few recipes and try them out. Discover what works and what doesn’t.
Get acquainted with my soup maker.
Goal 2: Declutter, organise clothes and make a capsule wardrobe
Lately it feels like I just have too much stuff! A couple of years ago I tried out the idea of a capsule wardrobe and it was great but when I moved away for work the habit slipped and the clothes crept back in.
Declutter room. Bin or donate anything I don’t have a use for.
Sort clothes. If it doesn’t fit or I haven’t worn it for over a year then it has to go.
Make an autumn capsule wardrobe. Box away all my summer clothes and choose what I’ll be wearing this season.
Goal 3: Get back into the habit of using a Bullet Journal
There’s a blog post about my bullet journal coming soon. I used a bullet journal every day for over a year and it was brilliant! One week at the beginning of the year I stopped, I don’t even know why but once I stopped I found it really difficult to start again. I didn’t want there to be a random gap in the dates, as silly as that sounds and the longer the gap became the harder it was to restart. So I’ve bought a new notebook and I’m starting afresh.
Set up bullet journal and get going again!
Goal 4: Make a budget and shop smarter
This one is more in the research stage at the moment. I’m living at home while interviewing but once I secure a job and move away a budget will be essential. I’m looking for a bit of inspiration.
Research! Read blogs, articles and websites to learn more about how to set myself a budget that will allow me to save for my big goal, a house deposit.
Do you give yourself little steps to work towards big goals? Let me know in the comments =)