Many of us have the terrible habit of working long days without taking the time for a breakfast or lunch break. Regardless of how busy we are, it is important to not only start the day with a nutritious breakfast, but go with a healthy meal at lunch and a nutritious pick-me-up snack in the late afternoon. No matter how much work you have to do, you should give some time for quality office meals. Even if only for fifteen minutes. To put you on the right track, here are some precious tips you should follow to eat quick meals at the office.
Easy tips for quick office meals
Preparing your meals
If you have little time to rustle something and push it down before your meal hour is over then your best option is to prepare your meals at home instead. Given that working day mornings are typically busy it’s important to prepare your meals ahead of time. Make some shopping at the weekend, buy foods for the whole week and start making your meals before the work week begins.
BREAKFAST >> Your breakfast should be light – just enough to give you renewed energy, but not slow you down with too much sugar or too many rich foods. Carbohydrates are extremely important as this is the energy fuel of the body. Prioritise whole grain cereals, seeds and fruits. If you like sandwiches, it is worth buying a week of cold cuts and cheese, some lettuce, spinach, pickles, olives and whatever you like on your sandwich. Take a slice of bread or rolls, make your sandwich at home or at work to prepare whatever works best for you. Do not go for chocolate bars or a bag of chips and a sugary drink, especially if you want to avoid dozing off in the late afternoon on the office desk.
LUNCH >> An ideal lunch should consist of proteins, whole grains, vegetables and a healthy drink. Include a fruit dessert, if possible. If you prefer a fresh salad for lunch, prepare a large amount of it and divide in several portions. Salads are great because you don’t need to heat them up and they can last for a few days. The salad should be stored in a separate container from the food that is heated (if applicable). The vegetables, when cooked, can be placed along with whatever food you heat at work. Season the salad just in time to consume it, the spices can be taken in small pots of jam, for example. For the lunch it is important to choose meals that are less prone to sour. Sauces with milk, for example, tend to spoil easily. Prefer spaghetti? Garlic and oil are more suitable. Can’t live without meat? It should be roasted, boiled or grilled. Careful with fries! As the pot warms up, the fries won’t be as tasty as before, and will lose some nutritional value.
Your options abound for quick office meals: filet mignon with mustard sauce, chicken meatballs, roasted kebab, rice with vegetables, meat batter, you name it. Your imagination is the only limit when it comes to prepare tasty and nutritious quick meals at work. Remember to quickly wash your pan(s) before and after use. Keep one or two pieces of fruit for a quick afternoon break if you are going to work some extra time. Yogurt with cereals is also a great option.
To ensure the integrity of your quick office meals, carry them in a thermal bag and store them inside a refrigerator, if available, once you arrive at work. Your food should not be unrefrigerated for more than one hour, especially in hot climates like on our sunny isles. A glass container is the most suitable to take your meal because it doesn’t keep flavours, is easy to re-use and can still go to a microwave oven or a conventional oven without problems. But if your options are more limited then read on.
Transport and storage
When it comes to preserving your quick office meals during the whole day at work, the critical factor is refrigeration. If there’s no fridge at your work place, a thermal bag or soft cooler is the safest method to transport and store your food. Everything should be within its own compartment and well-organised to make it easy for you to reach your quick meal in no time. In the absence of a thermal bag, small backpacks or hermetically-sealed containers can be used, but, unless these are somehow refrigerated with ice packs for example, you should avoid perishable foods.
If you have access to a fridge at work, your options are plenty as you are not limited to non-perishable items. Always store food in the refrigerator to avoid food poisoning. If not possible, use a cooler or an insulated bag with ice. Always well-sealed. If you have none of this at your work, prioritise salads. Avoid milk, tomatoes and other foods that easily go sour.
Heating your quick office meals at work
If there’s a microwave at work your fast food options are limitless. But make sure you don’t go for the unhealthy kind. It’s much better to prepare your own meals. If you choose to buy from the huge variety of prepared microwave food available at grocery stores, make sure you only pick the healthy variety. No fats and no excess. Be warned, though, that buying fast food will cost you much more than cooking it yourself.
Heating your quick office meals with a microwave requires some precautions with the containers that can be put inside. Aluminium pans are not very practical for obvious reasons. Tomato-based sauces in contact with the material, may change flavor and cause allergic reactions or gastrointestinal problems. If you use a plastic container to carry your food to work, pay attention to the type of plastic you’re using. Plastics containing toxic substances like bisphenol A should never go into the microwave. Instead, place your food on a plate or inside a container made of another type of material. Preferably ceramic. The ideal is to always dump the meal on a plate before taking it to the microwave. On a conventional oven, you can use a small saucepan.
The most recommended pan material by nutritionists is glass. This is the best heating container, either for a conventional oven or for a microwave. Moreover, glass doesn’t retain the flavour of other foods and is very easy to wash. As for whether the oven or the microwave do interfere with the nutritional value of your foods, fear not. Experts say that today these are largely myths. They’re perfectly safe heating methods.
Never neglect your body’s needs
Enjoy your quick meals at work by following these precious tips. There’s no excuse to put aside the basic needs of your body when it is a proven fact that people are more productive with a satisfied stomach. So rest your mind, replenish your energy resources and get some exercise if you can. You will find that your work will be much more enjoyable and productive in the long run.