Do you find it hard to maintain your productivity levels throughout the day while you’re freelancing? Rose from the Freelancer’s Cookbook has kindly shared five essential healthy eating tips for freelancers to help you avoid those dips in concentration.

Identify your hungry times

Mealtimes should always be breakfast, lunch and dinner, right? Not necessarily – now you’re freelance there’s no need to stick to traditional timings, or even the traditional number of meals. Try to keep a note of your hungry times for a week and see if a pattern emerges. Then you can simply move your meals (or snacks) to fit around them. I seem to get hungry around 11am and 3pm. Before identifying this pattern I used to try to hold off having lunch until after 12 (as that’s surely more civilised) but I found it pretty hard to concentrate from 11am onwards, as my mind would end up wandering to thoughts of food. Once I embraced this early lunch time I was much happier. My afternoon hungry gap is now filled with a snack – something healthy of course, although on occasions I have been known to sneak out for a quick spot of tea and cake…


Eat a sturdy breakfast

Alright, I know, I know – everyone says this. But that’s because it’s so important. I really feel that a good sturdy breakfast is vital for achieving a full and productive day. On grumpy days where I’ve found it hard to concentrate I’ve often reflected and realised that all I’ve grabbed is a quick coffee and a small bowl of cereal. I’m not much of a fan of cereal these days (even the ‘healthy’ options), as you don’t get much energy for the amount of munching you need to do – leaving you hungry half an hour later. If you’re going to take the time to sit down to eat something in the morning (which I of course advise you to do), it makes sense for it to be as filling and nutritious as possible. Porridge fulfils this nicely and, if you’re feeling creative in the mornings, you can try out different toppings and flavours. If not, just bung in a spoonful of honey or jam to liven it up a bit.


Keep snacking simple

It’s inevitable you’ll sometimes need to refuel between meals. My advice is to keep it simple and go for fresh fruit and veg as much as possible – especially as it’s a good opportunity to sneak a bit more nutrition into your day without even noticing. There’s nothing wrong with a good old banana, apple or orange, but why not mix it up and try half an avocado or a little pot of edamame beans to keep things a bit more exciting? Don’t forget dried fruit and nuts too – you can buy a whole host of different combinations, and they’re perfect for boosting your energy.


Make too much food

I’m not suggesting eating too much food, just making too much. Consider making an extra portion of all, or some, of the elements of each meal you make. Whether you’re cooking for one or six people, just bung in an extra portion, and – hey presto! – you’ve given yourself a easy start to your next meal. Carbohydrates make the most sense as they tend to keep well, and can help you whip up an alternative meal in minutes. Fry up leftover rice with veg and a couple of eggs for tasty egg fried rice, or make a pasta frittata with your extra portion of spaghetti. Just remember to pop your leftovers in the fridge as soon as you can after they have cooled down (especially rice) and make sure they are heated fully before eating.


Use quiet times to bank some indulgent meals for later

Most freelancers will experience quieter times at some point during the year. Frankly, I suspect most people aren’t very good at using these times to just relax, or go on holiday – it’s something I definitely struggle with. After suffering from a severe lack of free time for months on end, a big chunk of it can be pretty daunting. Cooking up some meals to go in the freezer for later can help you feel like you’re spending your time well, and it’s usually quite enjoyable. This definitely helps me to feel like I’ve achieved something on those days off – and most importantly, I then feel free to relax.  There are loads of meals that are great to make in batches and that freeze well. Don’t go too complex with these, though, unless you’re feeling really ambitious! It’s best to stick with meals that are fairly easy to make that you’ll enjoy after a busy day working – like fish pie, casserole, or a curry.

cassoulet-photoImages courtesy of Rose from The Freelancer’s Cookbook.