After many, many years of school (7, to be exact) and 7 months of job-searching, I have finally started working! I am now working at Mass General as an outpatient dietitian, which is pretty much the dreamiest of dream jobs that I could have imagined. However, this is the first time I’ve ever had to work a consistent schedule (except during my dietetic internship, but even that changed constantly), and there are challenges that come with that. It’s hard to eat healthily during the day when you don’t have access to your own kitchen and when you’re short on time in the mornings and at lunch. The key is planning ahead!
I’ve posted about meal planning twice before, but both times were about dinner. Eating at work has its own challenges, since you have to package meals to bring with you, which can be challenging if you have lots of other things to carry with you (like, hopefully, a gym bag). You also have to prep the food before you can eat it, which can feel like quite a chore, especially if you have to account for breakfast and lunch if you’re a late riser like me! Fortunately, some foresight and coordination can make this much easier- and keep you healthier and richer!
Rather than trying to make sandwiches or salads and struggling to keep them fresh and find other things to pair with them, I like to stick to one complete entree that I can reheat at lunch time. I try to incorporate a whole grain, protein, and lots of produce. This week, I chose fried rice, which I packaged in large mason jars.
I made way too much, so I froze some for the following week. I was actually going away the next two weekends, so getting a head start on meal prep for the next week was welcome. Freezers are your friend! Fortunately, I still had some portions of my Summer Sunset Grain Salad frozen, so that would fill out lunches for the rest of the week.
For breakfast, I was feeling fruity. I made my Team USA Yogurt Parfaits and packed a serving of granola-based cereal on the side so it wouldn’t get soggy. I also pre-prepped some pumpkin oatmeal bake to freeze for breakfasts after I got back from my trips (recipe below). It was inspired by this post over at Happy Healthy Mama, but I think one big pan (especially Le Creuset stoneware… $9 at HomeGoods!) is easier to clean, so I made one big cake and cut it in to squares. I will say, this is one of the most intoxicatingly pumpkin-y smelling things I’ve ever made, which was particularly welcome in the throes of summer. Freeze it, microwave to thaw, and pair it with some fruit and/or yogurt, and you’re all set!
Since these were ready to go in little jars, all I had to do was grab one of each and throw them in my tiny, insulated lunch bag that fits in my giant purse. Of course, iced coffee was also packed for the car ride in.
Of course, I’ll get hungry in the afternoon before going to the gym after work, so I also stock my office with some snacks. I have plain salted popcorn, dark chocolate, peanut butter (to pair with fruit or veggies), and frozen edamame that I can microwave and top with salt.
It’s nice to have a variety to quench any craving or hunger I may have so I don’t get tempted to find food elsewhere! I also keep a glass for water/iced tea on my desk to remind me to hydrate, and a mug for coffee, because… coffee. But that’s not all! I also have not the greatest fashion sense, so one day I took out all the work appropriate clothes I had and made tons of outfits. I took pictures of each one, so to plan my week, all I have to do is scroll through the pictures and see what I feel like wearing!
I can get all of this done over the weekend in just a few hours. Then, I have nothing to worry about the rest of the week- just get dressed, grab a few jars, and go!
- 2 cups old-fashioned oats
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice mix (or your own mix)
- 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- 1 cup plain canned pumpkin
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup low-sugar dried cranberries
- Preheat the oven to 350F and grease a small baking dish or 8x8 cake pan.
- Mix the first four ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and the last four ingredients in a small bowl or large measuring cup.
- Stir the wet ingredients in to the dry and let sit for about 10 minutes to hydrate the oats.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the top is crisped and the center is solidified.
- Let cool, cut into 2.5"x2.5" squares, and enjoy or freeze to reheat later.