Nutrition for Freelancers: 4 ways to save time & money

One of the things I miss most about going into an office everyday is socializing with my old coworkers. There are still a lot of ways to socialize professionally via working in co-working spaces or going to networking events, but one thing that I did realize I still miss through the day is my lunch hour. Unless I have lunch with a client or other freelancer I’m working on a project with, there are days that I find myself forgetting to eat lunch or eating lunch when it’s almost dinnertime. After a couple weeks of this, I sat back and really thought about why it was that my eating schedule was so disjointed and irregular.

It wasn’t a hard problem to solve. Throughout school, children and adults are taught to take a break to eat together in the middle of the school day. Typically, adults take the same break midday to eat as well, whether it’s in a communal setting or at their desks. Without a group of people around me taking a break to eat, I’m not reminded to myself. When I worked in an office, I always made sure I was eating a proper breakfast and lunch, and typically dinner (though I wasn’t always best with this depending on my schedule). But now, as a fulltime freelancer, I have to make an extra effort to ensure that I manage my time and nutrition properly. Here are some things I’ve learned along the way that may help you as well.

1. Planning Ahead Saves

When you make a commitment to planning your meals ahead of time, you save yourself a lot of time. Instead of spending time deciding what you want to eat when you’re hungry and taking the time away to make it, you already have your meal decided and cooked—all that’s left to do is heat it up and/or plate it. What’s more, cooking meals in bulk can be a huge help to your wallet. My personal favorite device in the kitchen is the Crock-Pot because I’m lazy and in all seriousness, would probably store books in my oven if it wasn’t a fire hazard. All you have to do is throw a ton of ingredients in the pot, turn it on the level you need, and set a timer. Come back hours later after completing projects or errands and voila! Put it in Tupperware and you’re good to go.

Try this: Use one day a week to do your shopping and plan out what you’re going to eat the rest of that week.

2. Pack Snacks

As a freelancer, I do spend time working from home, but I also like to get out of the house. There are cafes with great Wi-Fi that I frequent and co-working spaces and of course, being a freelancer gives me the freedom to do things like take a yoga class in the middle of the day if I’d like. One thing that I really dislike is being out and about, realizing I’m hungry, and having to spend money I’d otherwise would’ve saved on food that is way overpriced and hardly nutritious. When you spend your time prepping meals for the week, use that time to prep some snacks as well.

Try this: Cut up some veggies, package mixed nuts, and have granola bars on hand that you can put in your bag in case hunger strikes when you’re far from home and kitchen.

3. When Shopping, Know Your Produce

Something that is important to me in making sure that I get enough fruits and vegetables. But as most people know, these can get expensive. What I’ve started doing is looking up which fruits and veggies are in season. This not only saves money, but also is a great way to introduce yourself to produce that you may not typically eat or incorporate into recipes.

Try this: If you have access to fruit stands, farmer’s markets, or CSAs, look into shopping for produce these ways, which can also help save money.

4. Simple Shopping Changes

There are a lot of simple little changes that can improve how you’re shopping and save you money. One seemingly obvious one is by ignoring brands. As a creative, this one was somewhat difficult to me. I have specific brands that I like to be loyal to for one reason or another, but forgoing my loyalty to save a couple dollars here and there really adds up. Another great thing to pay attention to is your local newspaper on Sunday. These papers tend to include coupons that can save you quite a lot of money. Now, I’m not instructing you to become one of those coupon-obsessed reality TV stars and go bananas with your fifty cent savings, but if you can save money on an item you’d typically buy for a higher price, why not spend the time to clip it out?

Try this: Opt for the non-brand option of just one of your regular items and see if it makes a difference. Over time, it will on your wallet!

Now that you are privy to a few practices that will help save you time and money and maintain a nutritional value, check out these resources which are some of my go-to’s:

Sustainabletablethis is a great resource for seeing what veggies and fruits are in season

BudgetBytes—this is my go-to for planning inexpensive meals for the week. They of course have many crockpot options, but it’s given me new ideas that I wouldn’t of thought of on my own. It even breaks down each item by price and tells you how much each serving of a meal costs you in the end!

MyPlate—originally suggested to me by a nutritionist, this is a great resource to help plan how you’re eating &—I’m not big on cooking shows or food magazines, so when I want to check out new recipes, these are the sites I go to. And of course, I’ll always mix it up how I can depending on what’s in season and on sale.

Allison is a former Creative Circle Account Executive, with a background in creative writing, content writing/strategy, publishing, and business development. Her world revolves around words and the relationships and interactions they inspire. Allison is now the Content Specialist at Raizlabs, a design and development firm in Boston and San Francisco.