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RUSSELL_40 Posts: 16,826
11/26/13 8:23 A

I used to work at a pizzeria till 1 a.m. Meals that are eaten outside the normal schedule are hard, but I think what you need is snacks to get from lunch to your late dinners.

The frozen dinners ( homemade ) is a great idea, but you need to make it until you get home.

Take a bunch of fruit, fiber bars for snacks. You can buy a small cooler with a freezer pack, and take some sandwiches, or even stop at Subway, and keep it cool in the car, until you need a snack.

As for exercise.. You say you have no time to exercise, because you show up to your husbands job, and he is working late. If you get there at 4:30, and he works till 5 p.m., then you can get home by 6, and eat the quick frozen dinner, and go for a walk. If he works until 8, that gives you 3:30 to go for a walk. I am guessing that on the day he works till 8-9 p.m., he has some idea that he won't be getting out at 5 p.m., so go for a walk. Do some window shopping. Just move some. This might not be of any help to him, on his late days, but by going home on the days he gets out before 6 p.m., and eating a frozen dinner you can re-heat in 10 minutes, you will have time for an after dinner walk, even if it is dark, even if your favorite TV show is on. Your situation is harder, but not impossible.

LAURIEANDBLUE2K SparkPoints: (54,613)
Fitness Minutes: (140,818)
Posts: 228
11/25/13 8:06 A

I definitely think you should go home once you call and find out he's having to work late. If your commute is only 30 mins. I live in Texas and a 30 minute commute is actually quite average for most people. (My commute is 50 mins.)You could cook a healthy meal or get a great work out at home. I think it would make both of you much happier and less frustrated. You are taking care of your health and your husband can enjoy a home cooked meal.

11/25/13 6:12 A

Can you call your husband before leaving your job to find out when he will be finished with work? It does seem like you can utilize that time better by trying to fit in a workout while waiting for him or on days that you get out 4 hours before him you go home and cook and take care of other things then go back and pick him up. On the flip side for him, how much earlier is he getting into work than he needs to? If he gets there at 06:05am surely he would have time to fit in a half hour workout before work starts even a few times a week would be a great start. Start small, even walking around the parking lot or building if there are no parks on the way or close by. If you layer appropriately and are moving fast enough you can walk outside even when it is very cold out.

I also agree that a small snack on the ride home to help tide you to frozen premade dinners or crockpot meal is best. Even a big snack plus a homemade dinner is probably less calories than what you are eating at restaurants all the time. And if dishes are too much to add to the evening since you get up so early maybe eat off of paper plates and plastic forks for a while at least until you fully establish this habit. I have been known to leave my crockpot meal in the ceramic liner and not wash it until everything is eaten. It takes up more room in the fridge, but it eliminates washing an extra container. Like you said if you are getting home at 8 and need to be in bed at 9 to get back up at 0430 you don't necessarily want to be washing tons of dishes.

11/25/13 5:56 A

I find having a container of nuts and dried fruit in the car to be very helpful...especially when my hubby was an electrician. That way, instead of spoiling his dinner, he'd grab a handful of trail mix and munch on that until we get home for the real supper. Also, like everybody else mentioned, preparing ahead of time is always a good solution. I like to have my lunches ready to grab in the morning - that means spending a little extra time in the evening to prepare it but most of the time, it's just taking out allowed portions into a container because I cooked it on the weekend.
Working out, I do it first thing in the morning, before leaving for work. Situation is different than yours but I seriously don't see myself putting any energy into a workout after I do the hardest part of my day first thing in the morning ;)

MICHELLEXXXX SparkPoints: (12,100)
Fitness Minutes: (5,920)
Posts: 3,750
11/25/13 4:00 A

In addition to all the previous suggestions:
pack my dinner (tuna/salmon/chicken pouch, nuts, fruits, canned veggies, and a salad will keep in a thermal lunchbag with a coldpak.)
Utilize the public parks or local YMCA
Enjoy the public library

Edited by: MICHELLEXXXX at: 11/25/2013 (04:07)
ANARIE Posts: 13,179
11/24/13 11:47 P

I second the crockpot idea. There are thousands of healthy recipes for slow cookers, and you can get a decent crockpot for $20 or a fancy one that will automatically turn itself down to "keep warm" for under $50. (But first ask around; there are almost certainly ladies in your family or church who have at least one extra crockpot in their garage or basement that they would love to lend or give you.)

They also make tiny refrigerators for your car that run off of the cigarette lighter. Those can be found for about $50, as well, or you can just get a very good ice chest/cooler. You can take sandwiches, wraps, yogurt, cereal with milk, salads, etc. In warmer weather, freeze bottles of water or iced tea to use in place of ice, and then to drink along with your meal.

A way to make this all easier psychologically is to think about it in terms of the money you save, not just the health benefits. If you are stopping for restaurant food for two people twice a week, that's at least $30 a week that's going to waste. Chances are good that it's actually higher and you're going more often-- you may be spending as much on eating out as you would on a car payment. Sometimes it's easier to tell yourselves, "We're not going to eat out any more because then next spring we can buy a new car" than it is to tell yourself anything about losing weight and getting healthier.

IVYLASS SparkPoints: (218,609)
Fitness Minutes: (80,406)
Posts: 7,169
11/24/13 5:30 P

Have you tried crockpot meals? Nice yummy meals ready when you get home!

LOUNMOUN Posts: 1,334
11/24/13 5:04 P

What do you have available at your workplaces? Are you able to put food in a refrigerator or use a microwave there?

Pack food for the evening- a snack or a full meal. If you can heat something up before you leave work then you could have hot food. A sandwich, bagel, muffin, salad, nuts, hummus, vegetables or fruit can be packed and could be much better than eating out so often. Stopping by a grocery store and buying some food there instead of going to a restaurant might be one way to go a bit healthier and avoid waste.
Cook a big pot of soup or stew on the weekends and freeze it in individual portions.

Short sessions of exercise are better than nothing- just 10 or 15 minutes here and there.
Try to increase your steps each day- wear a pedometer.

Edited by: LOUNMOUN at: 11/24/2013 (17:05)
EXOTEC Posts: 3,327
11/24/13 4:45 P

I am a hearty supporter of homemade frozen meals. We do that all the time, and I'm retired. He takes his to his job, or eats whatever appeals to him for dinner when he comes home. We just spent the last two days doing exactly that: rotisserie-cooked boneless lamb roast, some beautiful (and huge!) custom-cut fricaseed pork chops, a big batch of lasagne, and I almost always have a couple versions of poultry handy. We've just run out at the moment. That will be the next cooking spree! With turkey at the price it is right now, it may well be turkey instead. That makes great frozen meals. The only thing I do with these is to toss a "side" or a salad (or soup) at them, and I'm done. A really hearty homemade soup is a great meal also! Healthy and easy at mealtimes. Sort of fun and companionable to be doing together on weekends, too.

Another option might be travel-friendly "lunchables." I love hard-boiled eggs. I also love shrimp, and I buy the big pre-cooked ones and freeze them in serving portions. All I have to do is thaw them in a bit of tap water and they're good to go. Great on salads... along with the eggs, and any leftover meats you might have about. You might take along some protein meal-replacement drinks (or powder) if you find one you like. I drink Designer Whey™ - it's pretty good. I don't know if it's intended as meal replacement though. You should check the label for that information.

If you absolutely can't make it without some take-out occasionally, Chinese *can* be okay, if you're choosy. I love Chicken Cashew, and it's usually sauteed with lots of veggies. I try to avoid the breaded stuff, and all the rice and noodles, but if you get steamed or sauteed, that wouldn't be a terrible alternative now and then.

Can you wait for your husband in his company's break room? If so, you might be able to heat your frozen meals there, or (depending on the amenities) even cook something simple. Breakfast for dinner is great! Some of my jobs had whole kitchens. Most at least have a microwave.

It's a bigger challenge when you're on an unusual shift or schedule, but you can make it work. Once you get in the mindset, you'll probably find lots of ways to work it out. I think you're right to not be trying to make a large meal after work. See how you can adapt things to make your big meal lunchtime. Or, if you have time, make a good breakfast that will hold you a while.

I'm sure there are plenty of people trying to juggle schedules with food. Hopefully you'll get some good suggestions that will work for you, too.

SAMMI-SAM SparkPoints: (26,311)
Fitness Minutes: (4,595)
Posts: 844
11/24/13 3:50 P

You could pack a pre-dinner snack like an apple & a fiber one granola bar?

SIMONEKP Posts: 2,700
11/24/13 3:39 P

If your commute is 30 minutes, on the days when you get out at 2 and he's not getting out until 8, you should probably go home and come back to get him instead of waiting around for 6 hours. You could get a few things done in that time, maybe even make dinner.

Some else suggested exercising in the time you're waiting for him, that would be a great use of time.

Not sure of the convinience available at work in terms of fridge/freezer/microwave but packing your meals is doable. This past summer I had some long days in the office, usually from 7am to midnight or 1am, the way I survived was by talking all my meals to work with my everyday because I wasn't sure what time I would leave.

Lastly, can one of you take the bus or other type of public transportation home?

BUNNYKICKS Posts: 2,433
11/24/13 3:13 P

Could you pack your dinner, and on the way home instead of stopping at a restaurant, stop the car at the park and make a bit of a picnic out of it? (ok ok it's November, so, a bundled-up eating-behind-the-wheel with the engine running and the heater on, sort of picnic!). If you could pack some sandwiches or meat and cheese and pickles or some beef jerky and hard boiled eggs or some individual tupperware serving cups of pasta salad....? Maybe enough to "tide you over" till you got home and were able to have a small hot meal?

If restaurants are unavoidable, can you pick a restaurant that offers something resembling healthy home-cooked food? (i.e. a menu that isn't reliant on a microwave and a deep frier?) If restaurant dining is your only realistic option, you can still control which ones you patronize and which items you choose off the menu...

ALGEBRAGIRL Posts: 1,925
11/24/13 2:25 P

At your work, do either of you have access to a freezer and microwave? If it's going to be a long hungry time commuting home, you could be just so hungry for something savory that a freezer burrito (or burritos) could smell good, taste good, be savory, and supplement some of those crunchy veggies you eat in the car.

You can make your own healthier burritos and freeze them for that microwave. I'm thinking lower-fat spanakopita (spinach and feta) or meat pies. They would smell good and tide you over because commuting is stressful. It's probably better to eat them at a full stop, not while driving!

The reason I mention frozen and savory is that something frozen doesn't have such a short shelf life. And savory because you are hungry, not just 'peckish.' If I'm hankering for a snack, there are a lot of things that will do. If it's raining and I'm tense and stressed, I want something that feels more filling even if it's not going to be a full meal. I'm just 'buying time' but I want that time to feel good.

NIRERIN Posts: 14,235
11/24/13 2:18 P

I agree that batch cooking will be your friend. But if your ready made meals are going bad before you can eat them, you need to buy more frozen than fresh to eliminate the waste. You also want to look at what you are buying and select hardier items. In other words, berries might be great for you, but they spoil quickly. Apples are also a fruit and generally last for weeks.

It does not help your husband, but is there a gym or a y or a park near his work? Because that would be a decent time for you to get your workouts in. Running or walking just requires a clothing change and a lot of parks have fitness trails or workout stations in the parks.
Spend a little bit of time in the grocery stores near where you and dh work while you are waiting. Grocery stores have quite a few decent options for grab and go and premade and they can be cheaper and healthier than eating out. Make a list of what is available so that you can grab as you need to.

11/24/13 1:25 P

When you do have time to cook on the weekend; make large batches of soups, stews and casseroles. Then freeze them in single serve portion, do not refrigerate. They will last for months and can be defrosted in microwave in minutes to eat.

Also stock up on healthier versions for frozen entrees to keep in your freezer.

You may also want to investigate in some shelf stable entrees by HMR (can be purchased via amazon).

Keep a good stock of frozen and canned fruits and veggies.

Buy a small amount of basic fresh produce (so you will not be wasting)---bagged salad, carrots, cucumber, tomato, apples, oranges, bananas, etc. These can be eaten at home or taken to work, used as a snack on the drive home, etc.

While a 2nd car is not in your future---you may want to invest in a small separate freezer to have adequate storage for food to meet your more demanding time schedule.

your SP Registered Dietitian

11/24/13 1:11 P

Hey Everyone,
My husband and I are in a unique life situation that makes any kind of regular exercise & healthy home cooked meals impossible so I'm hoping by explaining our situation that someone will have some suggestions to help.

We both work a long way from home so we commute together, while our start times are similar our ending times are not, his can vary dramatically. For example, we leave home at 5:30 AM, I drop him off at his work 6:05 AM, I get to work at 6:30 AM, I get off work anytime from 2:30 PM till 4 PM, drive to his work and he may be off or could work till as late as 8 PM then we have a minimum of 30+ minute drive home depending upon traffic. His work schedule is unpredictable. Typically when we're not headed home by 5 PM we chose to eat out as otherwise we are starving by the time we get home + the time it takes to cook a meal. We have tried stocking the fridge with ready made foods too but more often than not it gets tossed out from spoilage because he has worked so late that we simply had to eat on the way home as we were miserable hungry. Imagine getting home at 9 PM at night only to go to bed and get up the next day at 4:30 AM!! It's horrible, depressing, and feels like we have no life at all on those days. Finding time to exercise is impossible when we can't even do anything else.

Getting a second car for individual commuting isn't an option at this time. I realize there wn't be a single suggestion that will work for each day as each day is slightly different so I'm looking for multiple suggestions to cover whatever our particular daily situation happens to be. We also don't know ahead of time that he is working late so it's impossible to plan for that. I have done this for so long that my brain is just fried from trying to cope and come up with a workable plan. Please help! Thanks Everyone!

Any suggestions?

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