Unless cooking actually is your work from home job, it is important to find ways to enjoy yummy, healthy food without making a career out of being a chef, at least during the work week. The operative word in working from home is work. Even though we are at home, we still need to keep working. So, what are some types of food that can be cooking while you are working, cooking that does not require your constant attention and frees you up to work? There are lots of great meals you can make that do just that.

To work from home workers: Don’t give up on that healthy work from home dinner just yet. We know it’s a tough world out there. Many of us face the challenge of balancing work and family, and quite often, one of the first things to be sacrificed is a good home cooked meal. It is much easier to order out or grab something on the go. At our company, we make outbound calls, so we can control our shifts as long as we work daytime hours when businesses are open. There are a total of 12.5 work hours available when taking into account time zones spanning from the east coast to the west coast. For example, we are in Houston in Central Time. We can start calling the east coast at 7:00 a.m. because it is 8:00 a.m. there, and we can call the west coast up to 7:30 p.m. because it is only 5:30 p.m. in Pacific Time. If you want to work 6 of the 12 hours, you can arrange your day in several ways, stop early, stop late, or split the day so that you can do non-work related things in the middle.

Living off salty chips and chocolate bars are exactly what makes your productivity suffer. Nothing beats healthy, nutritious, homemade food. And since you work from home you are able to plan ahead. Use one of your breaks to preheat the oven. Here are some tips to help you turn dinner time into family time.

Choose recipes that are easy to throw together. Plan out a few cooking nights where you try out one new recipe. Crockpot or instant pot recipes are both perfect for work from home meals. While you are working, dinner can be cooking at the same time. Remember, you will be at home and will be able to take a break from work to check on the oven or crockpot if you need to.

Tips and a recipe from Shelley: Here are some tips from a professional who has been working from home for over ten years. We asked Shelley for her tips and a recipe.

Plan Your Meals Ahead of Time

Take 15 minutes on Friday night to plan the next weeks’ worth of meals. Whether you want to peruse the internet or go through your favorite cookbook, find recipes that allow you to prep ahead and still have plenty of time for work.

Make a Grocery List

After you plan your meals, make a grocery list. Not only will a list help you stick to your meal plan, it will also help you save money by not purchasing unnecessary items.

The Night Before

Look at the next day’s recipe the night before so you can prepare by taking frozen items out of the freezer and doing any prep work ahead of time.

Time Saving Tip

Dice several days’ worth of onion, garlic, peppers, etc. at one time and store them in individual airtight containers so they will be readily available throughout the week.

Count

Count how many calories and dollars you save by cooking at home. Cooking and eating at home can save you a lot of money in the long run. Consider that the actual cost of food at a restaurant is less than a third of what you pay for it. The rest of the money you spend at a restaurant goes to other costs like labor and overhead. If you cook at home, you only pay the food cost, and pocket the rest. Just think of the savings for a whole year. You could use the money you saved to take your family on a vacation.

 

One of Shelley’s favorite recipes:

Pasta Fagioli

Ingredients:

3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
2 Large Garlic Cloves, Minced
1 Large Carrot, Finely Chopped
2 Celery Stalks, Finely Chopped
1 Medium Onion, Finely Chopped
3 Slices Bacon (Optional)
1 (14 Ounce) Can Diced Tomatoes
1 Quart Chicken Broth
2 (14 Ounce) Cans Cannellini Beans (or Equivalent)
1 1/4 Cup Small Pasta (Ditalini or Small Shells)
1/3 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley
Salt & Pepper
Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes

Directions:

• Heat the oil over medium heat in a large heavy pot, then cook the onion, carrot, bacon and celery until soft.
• Add the garlic and cook another minute.
• Pour in the broth, diced tomatoes and beans and cook for 15 minutes.
• Remove a few ladles of the bean mixture and puree or mash, then return to the pot.
• Add the pasta, seasonings and chopped parsley.
• Cook until the pasta is cooked al dente.

Serve: Serve in bowls topped with a drizzle of olive oil, shaved parmesan and a sprinkling of chopped parsley. Add warm, crusty bread and a salad for a complete meal.

Nutrition Facts: Serving size equals one cup. Amount Per Serving. Calories: 225, Protein: 18 g., Carbohydrates: 76 g., Sugar: 7 g., Fat: 2 g., Calories from Fat: 4%, Fiber: 10 g., Sodium: 518 mg.

I have always loved best the cookbooks that show a picture of the completed dish as it is supposed to look after you prepare the recipe, so we have included a photo. When working from home, you can put together a recipe on your lunch break and preheat the oven when you have a few minutes before your work is done. Working from home allows for a more balanced work life and family life. Working full time doesn’t mean your meals have to be unhealthy or take forever to make. Plan ahead and have some fun with your meal planning and prepping. Enjoy saving money and time, which will allow you to have more quality time with your family. Happy cooking and may your pasta fagioli taste delicious and look like the picture!

Tracie Chancellor
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