Healthy eating: the nine-to-five challenge

Struggling to eat well during office hours? Here are three helpful tips from a Sydney-based foodie who feels your pain.

As an advocate of a whole food diet, I have always believed in the importance of home cooked meals. This previously hasn’t been much of a challenge as my lifestyle provided me with the necessary amount of time needed to make food from scratch. I thought that starting a full-time, nine-to-five job would challenge the eating habits that I’d grown to love. However, full-time work hasn’t changed the richness of my diet at all! If anything, my meals have become slightly more repetitive, but they never lack nutrients or flavour. 

With a few months under my belt, I have picked up some tips along the way that have helped me maintain a healthy, whole food diet, while adjusting to the nine-to-five grind.  

Tip 1: Planning 

Health-wise, it’s a no-brainer to cook your food from scratch. Of course, we all know that convenience is an issue and time constraints come into play pretty quickly. Generally, people say that the biggest barrier to achieving this is not knowing what to cook.

I like to begin planning my week before it begins, taking some time on the weekend to consider what to make for the week. I’ll flick through recipe books or Google ‘easy work lunches’ to get some ideas. Inspiration on Saturday afternoon means less pressure come Monday morning. 

Admittedly, I do have my ‘go to’ meals if I’m lacking inspiration: I’ll start with a quinoa or brown rice base, a variation of veggies and herbs and some chopped nuts or seeds on top. It’s more interesting than plain chicken and rice and can be prepped the night before. Which leads me to the second tip.

Tip 2: Preparation

Even though I’m an early riser, I’ll still put my brown rice or quinoa on the night before so that it’s cooked and ready in the morning. That way, all I have to do is mix through any additions that I want, leaving me with more time to focus on getting out the door. 

If you’re not a morning person I highly recommend prepping lunch the night before. You can even make two or three batches and refrigerate them for the next few days. When I’m cooking something for dinner that could also be taken for lunch, I always make double. 

One of my personal favourite lunches is lemony, herbed quinoa salad. You can add some meat on the side to make it a little more interesting, and filling. 

I also love making a batch of lamb Kofta on the weekend, freezing half the batch and using the remaining half to add to the salad throughout the week. It’s a great thing to have on hand. Lemon chicken is a nice addition too! 

Tip 3 - Snacking 

I never really understood 3pm cravings until I began office work of a sedentary nature. I’ve realised that quite often I’m not actually hungry, I just want something to get me through the last part of the day. But telling myself that doesn’t always help. 

If you’re a serial snacker and want to combat the desire to reach for something sweet, bringing something light to munch on should hit the spot. Some of my favourite snacks are celery and almond butter, carrot sticks and miso tahini dip, or crackers and hummus. This tends to satisfy me and distract me from things that I would otherwise reach for. However, if you have an unapologetic sweet tooth, rest assured there are some really tasty healthy treats you can make yourself – like sweet potato brownies! 

Realistically, not everyone likes cooking, but I encourage you to test-drive these tips. You’ll feel a whole lot better for it.

Cooking and creating are my passion and something that I am excited to be able to share. If you’ve been inspired, take a moment to look at my website, www.sarahspantry.net for some healthy recipe ideas! 


Love this .. I grow my own veggies and fruit, they taste better when in season locally
Jules 22 days ago
Thanks, Sophie -- some good life advice in your article!
Peter Eedy 40 days ago
Hey Sophia, I’m the dad of a 12 year old rugby player, Molly has been playing for 4 years. Great insight into the thought process of a young woman and I’m hoping the benefits she’ll get over time.
Paul Bunker 42 days ago