Eating well while working shifts

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.

Meal Prep

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 =)

Take care,

Hayley x

My food budget challenge

It’s been one month since I moved to Yorkshire for work. Its the first time that I’ve been in charge of shopping/cooking for just myself and no one else. Its liberating in a way, I can cook and eat whatever I want. No one to complain that they don’t like this or that we keep eating the same things etc. Before I moved, I thought that £20 a week would be plenty to budget for food. In reality I’ve spent double that, around £40 a week. That seems like a staggering amount for one person! In my defense, when I moved I had nothing so I have spent the last month stocking up on store cupboard essentials.

But now its time to do better

I spent a bit of time trying to research the average food budget for a single person. I came up with pretty much nothing so I’ve decided to challenge myself. I’m setting a maximum budget of £100 for the month but aiming to come in under budget and save any leftover cash for a rainy day. I opted for a monthly budget instead of weekly so that I can bulk buy if I see a good deal. That way I can stock up without blowing that weeks budget.

I have taken £100 out of my bank and I’m keeping it separate to my other cash. This way I can see how much money I have left and its more accountable than using contactless. If I shop online where I can’t pay cash, I will use my card but take the money out of my food budget envelope.

I’m going to use meal planning and prepping to stay on track as well as trying out Approved Food for dry or tinned goods. Approved Food is a website that sells items that are near or have passed their best before date at greatly reduced prices. I haven’t got a huge amount of storage space, so I didn’t think it would be worth paying delivery on the small amount of things I would buy. But as luck would have it, the warehouse is nearby my new city and its possible to collect! So that’s something I’ll be trying out in the next couple of weeks.

Do you have a food budget? What are your tips for cutting down on spending? Let me know in the comments =)

Take care,

Hayley x

December goals

Its beginning to feel very festive around here! I’m really looking forward to spending a few days at home with my family over Christmas. Time to set my goals for December but first a quick look at my goals from November:

  • Explore my new city and get settled in: I’m starting my new job next week so I have a few days to explore and settle in first. Complete, I feel like I’m really starting to settle down and I love my new city!
  • Book a yoga class: My housemate/landlady gave me a leaflet for a yoga studio. She has been before and enjoyed it and kindly thought it might be a good place for me to meet new people. I have had a few yoga sessions in the past and I’m keen to start up again! Complete, I’ve been for a few sessions now and plan to keep going!
  • Join another exercise class: This is another part of “Operation meet new people and do new things” I discovered an exercise class where adults play playground games such as dodgeball, british bulldog and capture the flag in a local park, then go to the pub after. I’m liking the sound of that! Not complete yet. I’m signed up for my first session on Sunday.
  • Meal prep: I’ve been trying out some recipes and having a go at mini meal preps during October (I’ll be posting about that soon!) Now that I’ve moved away and I’m going to be working long hours I want to get into meal prep properly! Complete, I’ve been trying out different recipes and have a few food based posts to write soon.

Goals for December

  • Have a restful Christmas with friends and family. Enough said =)
  • Get on top of writing and scheduling posts. With my recent move, starting a new job and life in general I’m now writing posts on the day the are going out. Not good! I want to get back to having posts scheduled a week in advance.
  • Set myself a budget.  Time to work out my expenses and see if I can shrink them!

So that’s mine, what are your goals for December? Let me know below.

Take care,

Hayley x

5 things I’ve learnt by moving away alone

5 things learnt moving away alone

In September 2016 I moved 250 miles away from home and family to be a live-in nanny. At the time I was taking a huge risk, moving to an area where I didn’t know anyone. I didn’t know how well I would cope with it or even if I would cope with it. Two years later, it was time for me to leave that family and I’ve recently moved again. The whole adventure was a really valuable experience and I learnt so much about myself. Here are the five main lessons I learnt by moving away alone.

Moving away actually brought me closer to my friends and family

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, well it really does! When I traveled home for the weekend, I made sure to spend time with my friends and family, it made me appreciate them so much more.

My anxiety doesn’t have to hold me back

This is something I haven’t really discussed on this blog yet but from being a teenager I have suffered with anxiety and panic attacks. Between 2013-2016 I used to blog about my anxiety on another platform and it helped me immensely. I did worry that I wouldn’t be able to cope with being away from home and family because of my anxiety. The main worry was that I would be alone in my room having panic attack after panic attack. I did have panic attacks while I was living/working away but I worked through them and my anxiety didn’t hold me back. Also I realised that there is a difference between anxiety/panic and everyday stress, nerves and homesickness. I felt all of these emotions and that was ok, homesickness didn’t mean I would automatically have a panic attack, something else I had been concerned about.

I’m braver than I think 

During the whole experience I was really far out of my comfort zone. I grew so much and realised that I am capable of much more than I thought I was. I joined a few meetup groups to meet people and as a result of that I did indoor surfing, wake boarding, snowboarding, hovercraft driving, quad biking and jumped 125ft off the top of a wind tunnel! Through all of that I realised I’m braver than I give myself credit for.

Meeting strangers gets easier the more I do it

The first meetup I went to, I was so nervous about introducing myself to a group of strangers that I almost turned around and went home. I’m so glad I didn’t! Meeting people for the first time, especially in groups, is scary but I found the more I did it the easier it was. I’m not an extrovert and I’ll never be a social butterfly but I was able to meet people and make friends through meet up groups.

Ultimately I’m a home bird but that doesn’t mean I can’t spread my wings!

The main thing I learnt is that although I loved the experience of being away from home, I feel miserable if I’m away for too long. When I was driving home for a weekend it was a 500 mile round trip! When I left that job and returned home, I knew that I wanted to work away again but I needed to be closer, for my own happiness. Just last week I moved away again to another job. The big difference is I’m now only a 2 hour drive away instead of 5! Its early days but I already feel much happier as a result.

Have you moved away alone? What did you take from the experience? Let me know in the comments below =)

Take care,

Hayley x


Beginners lunch meal prep session

For a while now I’ve been obsessed with the meal prep photos on Instagram and Pinterest. I love the idea of spending a chunk of time planning and preparing meals and then not having to think about it any more. I’m making November the month that I really get into meal prep but I had a bit of a practice session last week and made myself lunches for Monday through to Friday. I made 3 different lunches from the same lot of ingredients so that it didn’t get too repetitive. Also so I could decide on the day what I felt like eating.

What I bought

  • Bag of spinach
  • Bunch of celery
  • One red pepper
  • One cucumber
  • Tub of tomatoes
  • Multipack humus
  • Box of crackers
  • Pack cooked chicken chunks
  • Small block manchego cheese
  • Pack sliced salami
  • Punnet strawberries
  • Punnet blackberries

*I also used a nest of dried noodles, a tin of sweetcorn, tin of mushrooms and a splash of soy sauce. These were already in my cupboard*

What I made

Soup and salad lunch meal prep session

I used my soup maker to turn most of the chicken and the sweetcorn, mushrooms, soy sauce and noodles into chinese style chicken and sweetcorn soup. I made 2 large portions and stored them in the fridge for the days when I wanted something hot and comforting.

Chicken salad meal prep box Salami and cheese salad meal prep box

I also made 3 salad boxes, 1 with the remaining chicken and 2 with salami, cheese and berries.

I chopped up and portioned out the salad ingredients and split them between 3 meal prep containers. The ones I used have 3 compartments and are linked below.  I added what was left of the chicken, a mini tub of humus and some crackers to the first box. For the remaining 2 boxes I added strawberries and blackberries to one of the mini compartments and folded salami and chunks of manchego cheese to the other one. The white stuff sticking out of the sides of the main compartment is kitchen roll, I lined the underneath so that my salad stayed crisp.

Salad meal prep

As this was my first attempt at prepping several days lunches at once, I was a bit skeptical that my salad would still be fresh on day five. I was pleasantly surprised, I think the kitchen roll definitely helped! Below I have linked all the products that I have used. These are affiliate links which mean if you purchase something through those links I get a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Not bad for a first attempt! Do you meal prep? What did you find worked for you? Let me know in the comments below =)

Take care,

Hayley x




3 Little Buttons

November Goals

November goals educating hayley

I love November. It’s the month of Bonfire Night, my birthday and the Coco Cola Christmas advert! Before I start talking about my goals for this month, if you haven’t read this post from last week which explains why and how I’ve moved to Yorkshire this week, I would go there first. Everyone caught up? Ok good, lets start!

Goals for November

Most of my goals this month are going to revolve around settling down and making roots in my new city. Moving away on your own is always a bit scary (although its the second time I’ve done it now!) so I think its important to try new things and get to know people as soon as possible.

  • Explore my new city and get settled in: I’m starting my new job next week so I have a few days to explore and settle in first.
  • Book a yoga class: My housemate/landlady gave me a leaflet for a yoga studio. She has been before and enjoyed it and kindly thought it might be a good place for me to meet new people. I have had a few yoga sessions in the past and I’m keen to start up again!
  • Join another exercise class: This is another part of “Operation meet new people and do new things” I discovered an exercise class where adults play playground games such as dodgeball, british bulldog and capture the flag in a local park, then go to the pub after. I’m liking the sound of that!
  • Meal prep: I’ve been trying out some recipes and having a go at mini meal preps during October (I’ll be posting about that soon!) Now that I’ve moved away and I’m going to be working long hours I want to get into meal prep properly!

I’m making that do for this month, its going to be a big one! What are your goals for November? Let me know below =)

Take care,

Hayley x

Twin Mummy and Daddy

Reviewing goals for October

October has passed by in a bit of a blur. There’s a couple of days left but I’m ready to look at the goals I set myself and see what I’ve achieved. Or haven’t achieved…

I went big on a couple of my goals, especially ones relating to the blog as I didn’t know what a realistic target would be. That’s my excuses out of the way, lets get on with it!

Blog goals

  • Post at least twice a week: Achieved
  • Get to grips with Twitter and Pinterest: Achieved
  • Have 500 site views over the month: Not achieved. I set my target way too high and at time of writing I have exactly 250 views for the month. Oops! Well at least I got halfway there!

Habits goals

  • Keep tracking sleep and caffeine intake in my bullet journal: Achieved
  • Stick to no more than 3 caffeinated drinks a day Achieved. By only drinking caffeinated tea at mealtimes and drinking decaf in between.
  • Finish reading at least two books. Achieved. This month I read Relight my fire by Joanna Bolouri and Better than before by Gretchin Rubin.

Planning goals

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.

***Update: During the month I was offered a job and I am moving tomorrow!***

  • Pack up anything that I don’t need right now, summer clothes etc. Achieved.
  • Make a page in my bullet journal for everything that needs doing before I move. Sort of achieved. I didn’t make a page in my bullet journal but I did scribble a master list of everything I had to do.
  • Declutter, declutter, declutter! Achieved. My local charity shop loves me!

So that’s how I did with my goals for October. Its looking like November is going to be a huge month, exciting times! Did you meet your October goals? Let me know in the comments below =)

Take care,

Hayley x

Moving on

This post is a little different. I’m writing it on the spur of the moment, no planning or scheduling. Why? Because after a couple of months of planning, applying, scheming and dreaming, I’ve finally secured a job and somewhere to live! I’m moving back out of the family home and on to the next adventure in 4 days…

4 days?!

Its one of those things, for the last 10ish weeks I’ve been waiting. Waiting for interviews, waiting for the results of the interviews, waiting to hear back off agencies. Weeks and weeks of hanging around. Now suddenly its all systems go, exciting but also a little scary.

A quick back story for anyone who hasn’t read my previous posts. I’m a nanny. I spent 2 years working 250 miles away from home and living with the family I was working for. I returned home at the end of summer with plans to spend a few weeks at home, then move away again to work for another family. With 2 little changes. Firstly I wanted to be closer to my hometown and second I wanted to rent nearby instead of being a living in again. I decided on these changes as I wanted a better work/life balance. Finding the right job took me longer than I would have liked but at the same time I wanted to be sure it was the right fit. Finally I can get myself together and get going!

Planning and stuff

As you can imagine my do-to list is getting huge! There’s things to pack, addresses to change, registering at a different doctor/dentist etc. Some of my things are still packed in boxes from when I moved back home all those weeks ago. I always planned to move on soon so I only unpacked the essentials. Everything else is being sorted into bags or boxes but I’m pretty happy with how its going. I feel a lot more relaxed this time, I’ve done it once so I can do it again. Moving to a different city alone is a big deal but also an amazing adventure. I’ll have to write a post about it some time.

I’m planning to stick to my blogging schedule of Monday and Friday but in all the chaos of the last week or so (and also that I’ve had a horrible cold for the last few days) I’ve ran out of scheduled posts… Oops! I like to be at least a week ahead. I’m going to try to rectify that over the weekend but if my posting gets a little wobbly over the next couple of weeks, please bear with me!

So that’s everyone caught up on my news, have you got any to share? Let me know in the comments below =)

Take care,

Hayley x

An honest review of an acupressure mat

honest review of an acupressure mat

As part of my quest to unwind and get a better nights sleep, I stumbled across the idea of an acupressure mat. I was intrigued by the rave reviews and 80% 5 star rating so I decided to try it for myself.

I chose the orange Base Acupressure mat. I understood the idea behind it, rounded plastic spikes that apply gentle pressure and relax the muscles but I was a bit skeptical. I had 3 main concerns;

  1. Would it hurt?
  2. Would it really help me sleep better?
  3. Would it live up to the hype of the Amazon reviews I had read?

The mat I purchased is linked below. Please note this is an affiliate link so any purchases made through that link will give me a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting Educating Hayley.

First impressions

I was keen to try out my mat as soon as it arrived, so I took it upstairs, lay it on my bed and read the instructions. I put a thin pajama top on for my first attempt as it is suggested to build up to bare skin contact. Different people have varying levels of tolerance for sensation on the skin so its best to go slow and see what works for you. Apparently I must have a pretty high level of tolerance, as when I lay on it with the pajama top on, I couldn’t feel anything! So the top came off and I lay down again.

Its hard to describe the sensation of hundreds of rounded plastic tips pressing against your back. I wriggled and adjusted for a moment then set an alarm for 20 minutes and tried to relax into the mat. It is suggested to lie on the mat for 20-40 minutes several times a week for maximum benefit. I took a few deep breaths and could feel my muscles start to relax. The main thing going through my head was “Hey this doesn’t hurt!” I lay for the 20 minutes and then got up and carried on with my day. I didn’t get the warm tingly feeling that a lot of the reviews described but I still felt refreshed and happy with the result.

One month later

My mat arrived on the 11th of September, at time of writing I have been using it for just over a month. I have used the mat most days for at least 30 minutes. On day 3 I felt the warm tingly sensation and now I feel it almost every time. I would say that using it before bed does help me fall asleep faster as I’m more relaxed but I can’t definitively say that it has improved my sleep. Either way I enjoy my “mat time” and it is something that I will continue using. It has fit effortlessly into my before bed routine and I feel better for it. I now understand the rave reviews but ultimately its something that is hard to grasp until you have tried it for yourself.

Have you got an acupressure mat? Would you recommend it to others? Let me know in the comments below.

Take care,

Hayley x

Reducing caffeine: One month later

Reducing my caffeine intake

Its been a month since I started reducing my caffeine intake. I thought I would take a moment to update how that has been going and what I want to do going forward. The main reason I started monitoring my caffeine intake was because I hoped it would help me sleep better. For the last month I have stuck to no more than 3 caffeinated drinks a day, so the big question is;

Has it made any difference?

It’s not a straightforward answer. On the one hand, yes I think I am feeling sleepier at bedtime because I’m not wired on caffeine. But I can’t honestly say that I’m falling asleep much easier. I wish I could be one of these people who puts their head on their pillow and goes to sleep but I’m not. I can lie awake for hours before finally dozing off and I’m such a light sleeper that little things such as sunlight or noise from outside can wake me up. When I was working and in a routine I found it much easier to get to sleep because frankly I was exhausted. At the moment I’m between jobs and until I start working again I’m not sure how much difference it will make.


After I few days I did start to get headaches and shaky hands, always at around 3pm. At the time I was trying to only drink 2 caffeinated drinks a day, when I woke up and at dinner time. First I tried moving my 2nd cup forward to 2pm. It stopped my 3pm symptoms but meant that I was feeling really shaky when I woke up in the morning. Now I have 3 cups a day and at the moment that is working for me. I can always try to reduce further later on.


Since cutting my caffeine intake I have noticed some changes;

  • Like I said above, I do feel sleepier at bedtime. Unfortunately at the moment it isn’t having much effect on how quickly I’m falling asleep. I’m going to have to look into other ways of improving my sleep but every little helps!
  • I haven’t felt jumpy, jittery or irritable the way that I do when I’ve had too much caffeine, so that’s a big plus!
  • I haven’t been buying takeaway coffee so I’ve saved money on that over the last month.

The plan for now is to keep doing what I’ve been doing. Have you reduced your caffeine intake? Let me know in the comments.

Take care,

Hayley x