Getting Started

I wonder if anyone can help - I started work as a carer a year ago and since then have gained quite a bit of weight (and still gaining). My problem is my working hours. I'm up at 5am, leave the house at 6am and don't get home until 11pm. I spend a lot of time in my car with no regular breaks for lunch or dinner so find myself grabbing lots of food I can eat on the go - most of which is unhealthy. I'm looking for ideas for meals (which have to be cold vegetarian ones) and something which can be made up in the spare 10 mins I have in the morning. I get bored of the same food very quickly (that's when I turn to chocolate) so don't want to be only eating salads and sandwiches.

I would appreciate help from anyone, especially anyone who does the same type of work/hours as I am really struggling to get started.



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16 Replies

  • Hi Wendy. I don't work your hours but I'm up early and off on my commute to work by 6.45 am each morning. If I have hot drinks regularly I kind of stay filled up with less effort to not eat so I am very keen on these:

    It's a no spill travel mug / flask.

    Keeps drinks hot for hours and hours - no spills, I can chuck them in my handbag, or sit them in the cupholder in the car. I take one on the commute with me in the morning, so that even if I've skipped breakfast (highly likely as I'm not hungry then), I can sip my tea on the way or once I'm at work. Are you allowed to use the kettle at your client's homes? If so, then you could knock up a tea / coffee etc throughout the day to take with you and keep yourself going - nothing like a hot drink to keep a cold lunch company on a cold day !

    They are not cheap (£20-25 on amazon but for me they are worth it - and I've been working my way through the extended family givng them as birthday prezzies and people have been converted. My brother in law now takes both his and the one I gave his wife to work, one with tea, one with coffee and now he does at least manage to get two hot drinks during his working morning. My very sceptical husband has eaten his words as I often whip out a couple of hot drinks from my handbag whilst we are standing on the touchline or heading off on a long journey.

    Sorry this isn't a meal idea! I'm going to hope someone else has some good ideas for you on that score. Meanwhile well done on doing your important job, lots of people rely on you each day and I hope you can achieve your health goals for yourself.


  • Thank so much for your reply. I've got a flask in a cupboard somewhere - I'll need to find it and wipe the dust off it!! I hadn't really thought about hot drinks - I drink loads of Diet Coke and energy drinks (again, not the healthiest!!) but I do have the occasional bottle of water :)

    I'll get that organised for tomorrow :)

    Thanks again xx

  • Good luck Wendy - soup wouldn't work in my mug /flask - but perhaps it might in yours? Keep warm! xx

  • Hi Wendy - I'm veggie and also wheat free (and dairy free!) and always take a packed lunch. I bake apple flapjacks in batches and freeze them, and generally take salad, hummus and oatcakes for my lunch. Salads can be varied by adding different types of cold combos into the mix - lentil salad mix, cold roast veg, smoked tofu etc. I always have lots of snacks on me - even bring my own chocolate so I'm not tempted to buy some during the day - e.g. I'll carry a pot of raisins, nuts and bits of broken dark chocolate. I find having lots of different types of things really helps - keep them separate and then have them in the order you want to during the day. Stock up on tiny tupperware pots and keep dried snacks/ frozen meal items at the ready so you can prep your day's snacks/packed lunch quickly in the morning. Also try to take an apple/clementine and make sure you have that as your first snack, rather than going straight for the chocolate/flapjacks/cereal bars as a first resort. Fruit can be surprisingly filling. I'm also a fan of a thermos. I have a cheap (£5.99) thermos so I put black coffee in it and have a separate container for my soya milk. The hotter the contents of the thermos the longer it'll stay hot. A friend of mine even takes two thermoses (thermi?) - she has one for coffee and the other for soup. Hope this helps! :)

  • Thanks for your ideas. I love the nuts, raisins and chocolate idea - I've got loads of wee containers I can use for that and other snacks. At the moment I tend to buy a bag of nuts and fruit then eat the whole lot!!! :) As you said, it's better to have small amounts of lots of different things so, hopefully, I won't get bored.

    I'm going to look out my flask tonight so, at least, I'll have a hot drink first thing rather than my usual Diet Coke!!

    Thanks so much again :) xx

  • Good luck Wendy! I have a great line in pots of fruit and nuts. I chop dates/dried apricots up with scissors, I even break up walnuts, always have some plain unsalted peanuts (the ones with the red skins) and buy thin dark choc (e.g. lindt) which means you can break it up into smaller bits. If I get my pot of fruit and nuts out while others are around they're always jealous! Enjoy your flask of tea/coffee tomorrow :)

  • I will do and thanks again :)

  • Degree with this too, it's about planning, and putting you health first 😊 Good luck

  • Hi Wendy, that's a real challenge, I work in an NHS community team and do sometimes work some very long hours but I do have an office base I can go back to where there's a fridge microwave and kettle, so I'm quite in awe of you keeping going all day in your car. Just a few ideas off the top of my head, vegetable frittatas made the night before and sliced, some cooked veg is fine cold makes a change from the usual salad ingredients, soup in a food flask , quorn pieces or cut up sausages (or any quorn product you like really) cooked the night before makes a change with your salad or veg ☀️

  • Thanks for replying - your suggestions really are appreciated. It's so good to get different ideas. I think it's too easy for me to say I can't lose weight because of the hours I work but it's really about being positive and organised :) Already, with the replies I've had, I'm feeling more determined than I was a couple of hours ago :)

    Thanks again for taking the time to reply xx

  • Nut butter on toast! And fruit, prepare it beforehand.

  • Thanks - I've never tried nut butter before. I've just had a look to see where I can get it and Sainsburys have quite a selection. The coconut almond butter they do sounds great. I'll need to pop in there tomorrow :)

    Thanks again :)

  • Never heard of coconut butter either, mixed nut butter, is good, peanut, cashew and almond, I have tend to have one slice

  • Anything with nuts in it sounds good to me - just have to avoid the ones covered in chocolate :)

  • Hi Wendy,

    So hope that you are paid by the hour in full. Sounds more like slavery than a job.

    You can get wide necked flasks which are plasticised inside to protect the glass, easy to wash, but not dish washer-able. These would be great for soups, casseroles, stews or even porridge. They do not keep food quite as warm as a conventional flask, so these would be for breakfast or lunch.

    I think your freezer could be your friend here. As a busy working mum, I used to take a Sunday afternoon once a month to make frozen sandwiches. I bought 5 sliced loaves (so I knew the kcals) and did 5 different flavours. I wrapped each sandwich in a sandwich bag and put them back into the loaf packaging to freeze. Don't forget to label! We weren't veges at the time, but some of the fillings we used included: feta cheese with chopped basil added to cooked chopped peppers (consider frozen peppers here for speed and convenience). Low fat humus made with cooked chick peas whizzed up with a little garlic and a whole lemon. Grated cheddar mixed with plain yogurt, very finely chopped onion, and some sandwich pickle (like Branston). If you can't think of any more yourself, consider using some of the pretend sliced meats. Unless the filling was a bit damp on its own, I used to spread or mix in some ketchup, brown sauce or low cal mayo. Sweetheart always used to toast his sandwich before going off with it, he thought it improved the mouth feel. I was happy as they were.

    Hope that helps. Obviously I would add veg sticks and fruit to the lunch pack. They defrost by lunch time, but not before, which I always thought a plus, being inclined to eat lunch by morning tea break.

    Cereals can also be very portable, if you can find something to put your milk in. Or how about having them with an individual yog? You can eat cereal any time, not just for breakfast. I love melba toasts, which come in handy packs and can be dipped or spread with pate or low fat cheese spreads. Some of the oat biscuits are nice too.

    Also, since you are driving round, do some research (Google their websites) on supermarket pick and go options, fast food outlets and even takeaways. You can always tweak their offerings to fit in with a diet. Ask them how much oil they are using in cooking. If you are going to be a regular customer, they should be helpful. Would you be happy with a bean burger, some falafel and salad in a wrap, a tofu, veg and noodle dish or a veg side dish curry with a chapati and some raita? Just a thought. Sometimes working in the community in dark winter, you just want something hot. Nice to know you have some go to options that you can order without thinking.

    Let us know your solutions when you find them. You can't be the only one out there struggling with this issue.


  • How about a flasks of low calorie soups, or better still when you have the time home made soups. They are quite filling.

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