I know I'm not alone in the struggle to eat real food while surviving a crazy busy day. Many of us can relate to getting up too early and staying up too late, trying to squeeze in a workout, weeding through a constantly clogged email inbox, furiously typing 100 WPM, trying not to neglect friendships and relationships, and remembering to breathe. But the most essential thing to the success of a day is fuel . . . and M&M's, frozen mac and cheese, and endless cups of coffee aren't sustainable forever. As I'm entering my late 20s and my metabolism is beginning to resemble a sloth's movement, I'm more than ever attempting to find the easiest and most delicious ways to eat real food. Here are some of my ideas:
I try to eat breakfast away from a computer. It may be my only meal of the day that's not in front of a screen. Since I'm up really early, I usually end up eating two breakfasts (one savory at 6 a.m. and one sweet around 10 a.m.).
- Whole plain Greek yogurt with berries is a filling option. I love berries because they are delicious and don't require cutting! I also love tossing puffed brown rice on top for textural contrast.
- Mornings in the office are all about avocado on whole-wheat toast. If I'm at home, I'll top a fried egg on there. In the office, sliced hard-boiled egg is another great topper.
- Microwaveable oatmeal with peanut butter and banana tastes like cookies and only takes about five minutes to make.
Oh, lunch! How neglected you typically are! Though I wish I could get my sh*t together enough in the a.m. to pack a perfect mason jar salad, I just don't. So here's what I do instead:
- Here's what I throw in my bag: prewashed greens (I love the kind with herbs for a little somethin' extra), a whole avocado, a lemon, and either smoked salmon or shredded chicken (that I totally buy by the cupfuls from the Whole Foods salad bar or steal the leftovers off of Sunday night's rotisserie chicken at my parents' house). I keep salt, pepper, and olive oil at my desk so I can quickly whip up a lemony vinaigrette. When I'm really strapped for salad fixings, I turn to the snacks at work — a mini wheel of cheese and a handful of almonds go a long way.
- Microwaveable meals like this edamame rice are really easy to throw together and taste so fresh and light.
- I rarely have leftovers, but when I do, it's usually soup, like this green pea soup. It makes for a satisfying lunch; I just make sure to pack it properly and bring in some soup toppings like fresh herbs.
There are so many snacks in the office — which can totally derail my plans to eat well. I try to avert my eyes from the Oreos and chips (and the mini Snickers, which are my kryptonite) to focus on these beauties:
- Radishes, persian cucumbers, and baby carrots don't really require much prep, other than a quick rinse. I dip them in store-bought hummus or homemade hummus if it's something I've recipe developed.
- Freeze-dried fruit lasts a while and is nice to have on hand when a crunchy craving hits. My favorites are cherries and raspberries.
- Jerky! My office has turkey jerky readily available, but when I plan ahead, I opt for Krave Chili Lime beef jerky.
I'm currently taking a nighttime coding class, so I don't get home until 10 p.m. But even before those days, I would hit the gym and get home at 8 p.m. At that point, I'm starving and need something near immediately, so these are my go-tos:
- Tolerant Red Lentil Rotini is my most favorite pantry staple. Because I'm not home often, I don't usually keep raw meat available, and this gluten-free pasta has 21 grams of protein per serving! Ten times out of 10, I eat pasta like so: with olive oil, parmesan, and chili flakes. And if tender greens are in my fridge, I throw them in the pasta water during the last minute of cooking.
- The lovely Nicole Perry introduced me to this one-pan salmon recipe. It's chock-full of crispy cabbage and kale, it comes together in a flash, and it's easy to clean up. I make it on my weekend nights home.
- Millet-lentil salad dressed with whatever herbs and veggies I have on hand is another dinner staple. And bonus: the leftovers pack up nicely for lunch too.