Friday, 20 October 2017

Autumnal Lunchbox Inspiration + Mastering The Work/ Life Balance

This blog post, the latest in my partnership with healthy pea snack brand Yushoi is really about about three different (but interconnected) things: autumnal lunchbox ideas (because most of us need them and are totally guilty of eating the same thing every day, in one of my last jobs a woman in my office at the same thing for lunch every day of the 18 months I worked there!), a few of my (loose) tips on achieving a work/ life balance, and a little update of where I am now, because it has been a while since we've had a good chat!
Autumn Lunchbox Ideas with Yushoi | www.rachelphipps.com @rachelphipps
Autumn Lunchbox Grain Bowls | www.rachelphipps.com @rachelphipps
Roasted Almond, Tomato & Feta Five Grain Bowl | Greek Salad Lentil Bowl | Giant (Israeli) Couscous with Pomegranate & Pistachios


My lunchboxes kind of tie into the whole work/ life balance thing. Typically my lunchtime desk eats, Tuesday to Friday at least rely on leftovers from whatever I've been eating in any given week. If I'm making something Asian even if it is only a serves one I double up on the rice and throw anything else from the fridge on top, and I try to make sure I always have jars of picked things and homemade condiments to jazz things up a bit. This brings me to my first tip to achieving a good work/ life balance: making time for the things you love. While I do love a good restaurant, I also love cooking, so I always make sure that I save a couple of evenings a week to cook for myself. And, by making sure I generate leftovers or things from the fridge that can be thrown together for a quick lunchbox, I'm making my work life less stressful, and cheaper too. 

My second tip for achieving a good work/ life balance is planning ahead. The reason I say Tuesday through Friday for leftovers, is I try to make something at the weekends that will make a good balanced lunchbox or two to kick of the week right without leftover reliance. Grain, couscous, pasta and lentil bowls are all good, which is why I've included recipe inspiration for that sort of thing throughout the post, and you'll notice some high protein, meaty options near the bottom, too. Some of these, like sausage rolls are classic lunchbox fodder, but warm goujons with a yogurt dip or hot slithers of Korean pork? Think about your favourite meaty recipes and which ones would be delicious served cold. 

While greens are all well and good, you want something to keep you full throughout the day without snacking, which is why I tend to add a few protein-rich sides to my packed lunch to keep things healthy. Obviously, if you follow me on Instagram you'll know I'm a fan of Yushoi's pea snacks (and their new barbecue flavour baked lentil ones) with a few drinks in the evening, but if you get a mulitpack of their individual bags rather than the big sharing bags, they're perfect lunchbox fodder too. I used to get grown up coconut yogurt pouches, but I realised it was much cheaper (and a lot more fun) to add a Frube (to non-Brits reading this, they're like yogurt in a long, thin plastic pouch) to my lunchbox too. Something to make you smile!
Bulgar Wheat with Kale & Slow Roasted Cherry Tomatoes | www.rachelphipps.com @rachelphipps


My third tip for achieving a good work/ life balance is knowing when enough is enough. As you all know, I'm a political researcher and advisor in Westminster. When I'm not in the kitchen, snapping a restaurant or writing cookbooks I'm up to my eyes in constituent corrospondence, drafting Parliamentary questions and trying to properly prepare the boss before he goes on TV. Except, I don't anymore. The most important part of achieving a good work/ life balance is knowing when it is not possible. If I am to be perfectly honest, I've not been feeling the same about my work since the day Batley MP Jo Cox was murdered outside her constituency surgery. Then there was Brexit, a change of Prime Minister, the Westminster terror attack where we all saw and experienced things no one should ever have to, then another brutal election. Work was making me sad, depressed and frustrated (I'm not the only person in politics feeling this at the moment, Briony has written a great post on why she is bowing out too here) so I never went back after the summer Parliamentary recess, and I honestly have no idea what I'm going to do next. At the moment I'm working on the blog, a few blog projects that have been on the backburner for a year or two, lots of new recipes and a few new ideas. Incidentally, if you're a blogger or a brand looking for help building up your Pinterest presence, hit me up! 
Meaty Autumn Lunchbox Items | www.rachelphipps.com @rachelphipps
Korean Pork Belly Bun Bowls | Easy Apricot & Almond Sausage Rolls | Moroccan Chicken Goujons with Yogurt & Mint Dip


Lots of people have been asking me if I'm going to go back to politics, or find another job. As for the first question, yes, but not right now. Contrary to what most people believe about people who work in Westminster, we're all there for a reason. We care about things, and have a certain set of beliefs. I got involved because I saw a vision for Britain I believed in, and because of leaders who wanted to promote my values. I love politics and the real good you can do with it, and I'll always be getting involved in some fashion. However, over the summer where I had to stand on peoples doorsteps and try to defend policies that I felt were actually damaging to people and the country, I'm never going to let myself be put in that position ever again. Turning to the job question, I might, if something I really really want to do comes along. I'll blog for now, but I'm keeping my options open. I know I never want to be unhappy in my job again either.
Asian Butter Bean Salad | www.rachelphipps.com @rachelphipps
Asian Butter Bean Salad


So, to recap. I certainly don't claim to have all the answers to the golden work/ life balance question, but I do know what I have learnt over the past two years since I left full time blogging to do a 'traditional' job: make time outside of work to do things you love, plan ahead so you get to make the most of the time you spend outside of work, and try to be self aware enough to know when things really are not working, and can't be fixed. If you're after any further reading in this area, I always find the careers/ working life sections of Cupcakes and Cashmere and The Everygirl helpful. I'd love to hear some of your work/ life balance tips, too!


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