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Struggling to make it through the day without a Tim Tam in hand? Whether you’re a rep on the road, a teacher or an office-slicker, let’s change our attitude to how we fuel ourselves to get through the workday. Although Doritos and M&M’s may get you through that stressful deadline, we all know what happens when 2pm rolls round. You start crashing, and more cravings kick in. So to help you out, we’ve compiled the best recipes to get you through the day – and of course they’re sweet on flavour and value for money.

If you were to think back on the last week, how many meals did you skip because you were on the go? No breakfast because you slept through your alarm, no lunch because you didn’t have the chance to sit down, and then by the time dinner rolls round, nothing sounds better than a curry from your local.

Your career impacts on your everyday wellbeing – from your mood throughout the day to your motivation to get out of bed in the morning. It also influences what we fuel ourselves with. And if we’re on the go all day, convenience wins out and our food choices bear the brunt.

Now, hey. This is by no means a call to give up all that is good and delicious. It’s about taking back ownership and developing a positive relationship with food, the shift from one of necessity (eating for the sake of eating, or to help cope with stress) to nourishment.

Food preparation became a priority for me because of how fed up I became with feeling exhausted. The afternoon would roll around and I couldn’t concentrate, heck I could barely keep my eyes open. No amount of fresh air, walks around the office or glasses of water could undo the feeling of utter exhaustion – the worst part is your day isn’t even near over. There’s the commute home, the workout, the after work drinks and then the desperate dash into the supermarket for dinner (that’s if your willpower held out to bypass takeaways).

So here are our favourite picks to sustain your energy.

Breakfast

For some, all they need when they wake up is a coffee in hand and they’re set for the day. Me on the other hand? I need food as soon as I open my eyes. I’m also someone who hates mornings and gets easily bored with the usual toast and cereal, so I mix it up with things I can prepare the night before.

That’s what makes ‘chia pots’ a winner – they take less than 5mins to chuck together, so what’s not to love about a sweet dish that is all ready for you as soon as you wake up. It’s more exciting than cornflakes, and as a recipe from Dr Libby, we know it’s good for us! Or what about an easy ‘Banana and Coconut Overnight Oats’ recipe thanks to Broccoli & Muffins.

And of course smoothies have to make the list. Throwing together fruit and oats in a snap-lock bag destined for the freezer is game-changing. The only thing left to do the next morning is top it off with a milk of your choice, a dash of protein powder or yogurt, blitz, and you’re off. Don’t let the colour of green smoothies put you off – Kitchen Confidante combine a balance of good greens with a dash of sweetness with their ‘Mango Spinach Green Smoothie’. Another idea is to replace the almond milk with coconut water and add in a tablespoon of fresh mint. And if you’re feeling fancy check out this smoothie bowl from My Food Bag – the title may say ‘Christmas Spiced Smoothie’, but trust me, it’s a year-round favourite.

Snacks

As much as I love cooking, my favourite recipes are those that are price-conscious and relevant to the ingredients you already have in the fridge and pantry. And as hard as I try and fight it, I have a sweet-tooth that isn’t going anywhere. But as much as chocolate touches the soul like no piece of fruit ever could, I also know that I will come crashing down from that sweet, sweet Toffee Pop high.

Your job may take you on the road (or plane) so these are easy enough to chuck in a container and take with you. One for the chocolate lovers, check out these ‘Chocolate Brownie Energy Bites’ over on Joy Food Sunshine. The thing about bliss balls is if a recipe calls for an ingredient you don’t have on hand, it’s easy enough to substitute. Dr Libby – one of my go-to favourites for food (and health) inspiration – has her own take on bliss balls with her ‘Cashew Truffles’.

The fact that you can take an over-ripe piece of fruit destined for the bin and turn it into an afternoon-slump fighting treat is a winner. Julia and Libby’s ‘Banana Bread’ recipe not only packs a flavour-punch, it ticks the box for convenience too, calling only for kitchen staples.

Lunch

A shout out to all those Workhers out there with limited time for lunch – what with meetings, interruptions, questions all day, oh and that looming deadline, when do we get the time to sit down and uhhh, eat? Lunch calls for something that is nourishing, but to make it easier for ourselves, we need something that doesn’t necessarily need to be chilled or heated. Cue ‘temaki’. Combining sushi with the concept of a wrap, it’s a little bit fancier than your average pita pocket. Throw together veggies, meat and rice, some creative flair with nori, and voila, a meal you’ll actually look forward to eating. Check out Jay and Sarah’s take with their ‘Island-inspired Temaki Sushi’. If that sounds a bit too complicated, swap out the nori for rice paper. This will keep the local deli shop cravings at bay, and handy for those times when leftovers just aren’t realistic to eat.

Whether you’re a fan of fritters or frittata, they’re both something to prepare in batches and then pop in the freezer – and hey if any of the ingredients aren’t up your alley, just swap ‘em out for whatever pantry staples you have on hand.

Dinner

Here’s a different take on the classic nachos – ‘Grilled Zucchini Nachos’, with you guessed it, zucchinis used in place of corn chips, from Two Peas & Their Pod. Kumara also makes a great alternative, and to make the topping go further (whether you add mince-meat in or not), grate in carrot and add in chopped capsicum. It’s a versatile meal that can be served in a number of ways – either as a burrito bowl (swapping out the mince with chicken strips and adding in some rice) or served in lettuce-cups as a take on the traditional taco shell.

Something just as easy is Chelsea Winters’ ‘Coconut-poached Thai chicken noodle salad’. A simple twist could mean trying out an alternative dressing like a classic peanut satay sauce – a mix of peanut butter, sweet chili sauce, crushed ginger, soy sauce, honey and a splash of water.

Yeah, but I just don’t have time…

What all of these recipes have in common is one thing – they can all be prepared in advance. And that’s the key right there; preparation. Does the line “I just don’t have time” resonate? In all honesty, aren’t we just saying it isn’t a priority? Understandably, each of our situations are unique and factor in balancing the demands of family, budgets, work hours and deadlines. But by introducing just a few simple staples each week, we can start changing our relationship with food to one that’s going to help us fuel through our day.

So what are your go-to favourites?

Rachel is a Business Development Coordinator with a background in professional services. Having held various in-house communications and marketing roles which sees her work alongside a variety of stakeholders, Rachel understands best practice when engaging in an industry where time is quite literally money.

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