Feeding Yourself When You Have Two Jobs
Feeding yourself while running between multiple jobs is tricky. Convenience is key, but you also have to be at least somewhat budget-conscious because hey, you’re working two jobs for a reason.
You want a somewhat balanced meal to help you get through sometimes 13+ hour days, but you also want to have food that is actually appetizing. You want to have high-quality foods in the fridge, but you don’t want to be trashing lots of perishables if you don’t get a chance to cook them in time. It’s a constant balancing act, but an important one, because the worst sin is not eating at all.
Having worked a full time desk job and part time retail job for years now, I still am trying to master the art of making sure I am well-fed. While I don’t have it down to a science, there are some tips and tricks I’ve picked up.
Show love for the crockpot.
There is nothing like coming home to a home-cooked meal, and when I was single and living alone, the only way this would happen, unless the mice in my apartment decided to Ratatouille it up, was when I set my crockpot in the morning. I go for recipes that involve little to no prep — just throw in some precut veggies, a sauce, and a protein, and I can come home to dinner, hot and ready. The size of a crockpot also often means leftovers, which can be frozen and/or enjoyed throughout the week for lunch.
Buy groceries with long term vs. short term in mind.
When I first started living on my own, I often bought a week’s worth of fresh food, only to find myself throwing produce out a week or two later, when I realized I wasn’t able to use it before it started going bad. Now I try to strike a better balance between perishable and non-perishable groceries. Meats tend to go straight into the freezer unless I know I’ll cook them within two days of bringing it home. I only buy fresh vegetables if I know I’ll cook them within three days of bringing them home.
I try to have at least a pack or two of frozen veggies in the freezer, plus a can or two of beans in the pantry. And I always try to have an emergency food option– mac n’ cheese from a box, ramen, a frozen meal — just in case.
Make note of all the cheap dining options in your most-frequented places.
At every workplace, I know all the best options for meals under $7, from the deli across the street from my office to the halal cart by the bookstore. I also know where I can pick up a quick slice or gyro near my apartment. I would rather do a few cheap meals out than cave and shell out $20+ for delivery in a moment of desperation/weakness.
Keep snacks on-hand.
I often have a box of granola bars at my desk in case I forget breakfast. There have also been times a handful of nuts between jobs has helped me get through the commute. Snacks — hopefully on the healthier side, but you do you — ensure that you will always have something to nibble on when you need it.
Surround yourself with to-go-oriented kitchen things.
I have a Ninja blender, and I make great use out of the to-go cups that allow you to blend right in the tumbler. Many smoothies have been taken to work this way, and it takes all of 5 minutes to prepare in the morning. I also always make sure to have tupperware in the kitchen for leftovers, as well as ziplocs for transporting sandwiches. You need your food to be as nimble as you are, so invest in the little things that will get you out the door quickly, with food in tow.
All this being said, my biggest advice is: make sure you get whatever you need into your body so you can make it through the day. If you forget your lunch, you might be tempted to skip lunch to save some money. If you’re on a tight budget, you might forgo the morning coffee because you know how much a latte a day adds up to. Don’t. Your goal is to get back home at the end of the day, so invest in yourself; make sure you get what you need to get through. This does not mean dining at the Ritz, but if it’s a snack from the vending machine, or an extra shot of espresso, or, a sandwich, get on with your bad self.
This story is part of our food month series.
Kimberly Lew is the proud writer of plays, blogs, and the monthly check when the rent is due. Check her out at www.kimberlylew.com.