How to eat something other than biscuits.

This week Frankie Tortora and Steve Folland have a chat in response to a question from Holly Smith. Holly is a celebrant and coach, she says:

“Food! I know I struggle to eat well during the week because if it’s a toss-up between work and tidying up, and feeding myself something more than biscuits, then the latter never takes priority. How can I fit proper, nourishing meals into my life when I’m so pressed for time?”

Take note dear listener! We might swear a bit. This one’s for the parents. To be enjoyed at your desk or once the kiddos are in bed.

Here’s what was said in this episode:

Comments on the previous episode:

[00:00:25] – Frankie
Hello, you’re listening to the Doing It For The Kids podcast, where we swear a bit too much and talk a bit too fast about freelance life with kids in the mix. My name’s Frankie and this is Steve.

[00:00:34] – Steve
Each week we take a question from the Doing It For The Kids community. We try our best to answer it, we muddle our way through and then we make amends for it by the following week, giving sound advice given by you lot. So, yes, which is where we should start…

Last week’s episode was about-, oh, yes. When a friend asks you to do a two hour round trip to meet somewhere mutually convenient in order to have a conversation about some work thing. The favourite phrase, of course, was, “mate, people pay me for this shit!”

[00:01:05] – Frankie
The t-shirts are in production.

[00:01:06] – Steve
Oh, yeah, the t-shirt! If you’ve not seen the video with the actual t-shirt on it, that does exist, check out Frankie’s Twitter or my Instagram and it’s on there somewhere.

[00:01:14] – Frankie
The video exists, not the T shirt. Let’s not actually mis-sell, although you know…

[00:01:18] – Steve
The trouble with it is, of course…

[00:01:20] – Frankie
It’s got a massive swear word in it?!

[00:01:22] – Steve

So that was the question. The comments were…

[00:01:28] – Frankie
Jude Jagger. Hi, Jude. She’s just had a baby. Hello!

Jude says,

“Listening to the podcast in the middle of the night whilst breastfeeding a less than week old baby making me giggle and it’s making the time pass delightfully. Thank you.”

No worries, Jude. Jude continues,

“The friend episode has made me realise I have a couple of ‘friends’ in quotation marks who I rush to help and give advice and give up my time for and don’t get anything back. I hadn’t realised they were in the ‘friends’ in quotation marks category because I like to fix problems but need to back off with rushing to help, especially as one of them I’m in direct competition with for some of my work.”


[00:02:02] – Steve
Lynda. Lynda Kendall. Hey. Hi, Linda.

Lynda says,

“I try and swap services a lot. Like my friend babysitting in exchange for a logo I did, or gin nights for my friend’s gin tasting company”.

And then Lynda continues,

“God, I need to sort my business strategy out. Seems like I’m using design to single handedly finance time away from my kids!”

You’re saying that like it’s a bad thing??

[00:02:28] – Frankie
That’s genius, though. Like the minute she wrote that, I was like, “oh, yeah, skill swap! That’s a great idea”.

[00:02:34] – Steve
Yes, in fact, Jane, Jane said something similar. Jane Thompson.

Jane said,

“My first instinct is to reply to said friend with, ‘Yes, happy to do that as a skill swap if you prefer to paying?’ Time bank between friends?!”

[00:02:48] – Frankie
There you go.

Polly Tree says,

“Re: the friends dilemma, I think people often dangle the future paid opportunities thing to you as a reason to get you to travel or do loads of shit for free. I think you have to stand by your guns and remember that if they want to pay you to work, they will pay you to do work. Running yourself ragged for them for free doesn’t help. In fact, being clear about what you can and can’t give is a really good way of showing that you value yourself.”

[00:03:10] – Steve
Yeah, I think otherwise you end up resenting the whole situation. You hate yourself, you end up hating them.

Our answer to this week's question:

[00:05:03] – Steve
So this week’s question comes from Holly June Smith, who is a celebrant. Wow.

[00:05:09] – Frankie
Yeah, cool job.

[00:05:10] – Steve
Celebrant and coach. In fact, you have to give hats off to Holly. Well, in fact, wedding hat off… In fact, maybe a fascinator off? Because she has ‘’ as her website.

[00:05:22] – Frankie
I know, right?

Yeah. That is amazing from a SEO perspective.

[00:05:29] – Steve
Isn’t that? That’s… Wow.

Anyway, Holly says,

“FOOD” in caps.

Oh, this is apt after your cheese post.

[00:05:35] – Frankie
Oh, yeah. It’s like I thought about it! I didn’t.

[00:05:38] – Steve
Holly says,

“FOOD. I know I struggle to eat well during the week because it’s a toss up between work and tidying up and feeding myself something more than biscuits. Then the latter never takes priority. How can I fit proper nourishing meals into my life when I’m so pressed for time?”

Can we just broach the fact she’s saying ‘something more than biscuits’ as if that was a bad thing?

[00:06:01] – Frankie
I know.

[00:06:03] – Steve
You’re probably asking the wrong people here.

[00:06:06] – Frankie
I’m literally chowing down on a packet of Hobnobs as we speak. What’s the time?

[00:06:08] – Steve
I’ve got dark chocolate Digestives and we’re recording this at like ten in the morning.

[00:06:14] – Frankie
Yeah. There you go.

This feels weirdly appropriate for me at the moment because I’m in this like just gone back to work thing and it became very obvious last week how badly I was feeding myself even like two weeks in, because I always complain about not feeding myself properly when I’m looking after the kids. But actually, I’m so bad when I’m at my desk too! It’s quite… almost worrying.

Like to the point where, yeah, I’m living off like high sugar stuff for most of the morning and then I get to 11:30, 12, and my body just goes like, “I need water! I need actual vegetables or something! Something other than chocolate and carbs!”

Yeah, it’s really easy to fall into that. Particularly if you’re really busy. You don’t even notice what the time is and suddenly you haven’t eaten anything decent or at all, all morning and then you just crash, which isn’t good for your productivity.

[00:07:06] – Steve
Maybe what you need is a kind of like a go-to set of easy to cook or easy to prepare things?

[00:07:14] – Frankie

So what would be your top three go-to meals be, Steve? I mean, you have fruit salad every day, no?

[00:07:19] – Steve
Yeah, I make my wife a fruit salad every evening, so I make the kids fruit salad after their meal and then I always make my wife a tub for her to take to work the next day. And when I told you that, you were like, “why don’t you make yourself one?”

[00:07:33] – Frankie

[00:07:33] – Steve
And I was like, “oh, yeah, I’ve been doing this for like eight years!” So, since you’ve said that, I have been making myself one as well. Turns out it’s really nice.

[00:07:42] – Frankie
And really simple because you’re doing it anyway for everybody else in your family, so, like, making another batch isn’t that hard.

[00:07:48] – Steve
So preparing stuff in that way is quite good.

Another thing I do is leftovers from dinner, but actually making purposeful leftovers because…

[00:07:57] – Frankie
Oh okay, you’re that person!

[00:07:59] – Steve
I tend to cook too much food for dinner anyway, but then just eat it. I’ve got that, “If it’s on my plate, I’m going to eat it!” mentality that my parents drummed into me. So what I do, instead of just splitting it between mine and my wife’s plates, I put a bit of it to one side and then I’ll say to her, “there’s more out there if you want it”. Secretly hoping she doesn’t.

[00:08:21] – Frankie
See, if I said that to Rob, he would just annihilate it. If there’s anything left, it’s just gone.

[00:08:26] – Steve
Then stuff like fish fingers. Fish finger sandwich — winner. Eggs! So you can make scrambled eggs or poached eggs on toast. Bit of spinach. Spinach will wilt as soon as you look at it. It’s so quick to cook.

[00:08:42] – Frankie
Yeah, that’s true. Frozen spinach is good too. Just whack it in microwave.

[00:08:44] – Steve
There you go! This is like Saturday Brunch or whatever it’s called.

Yeah. I think having some quick, easy lunches like that, because I dunno, I find making sandwiches even a bit of a hassle, it’s a bit depressing…

[00:09:00] – Frankie
How is making sandwiches depressing?

[00:09:03] – Steve
Oh, it’s just-,

[00:09:03] – Frankie
The key to a good sandwich is putting good shit in it. But so many people make lame sandwiches.

[00:09:09] – Steve
No, you’re right. You’ve got to have some crispy, crunchy lettuce in there.

[00:09:12] – Frankie
You got to have all the good stuff!

So, like, I’m sort of half Italian. Won’t go into details, but anyway, I’ve got some Italian in me, so I eat a lot of ciabatta style sandwiches. So with like parma ham and mozzarella and pesto, basically anything with pesto in it for a start… Even if it’s chicken, ham, whatever. Add pesto: BOOM.

Or tasty pickles? Like a lime pickle, like a curry style pickle. Mayonnaise, mustard. Gherkins. Miniature gherkins. You know how I feel about miniature gherkins. They are the best.

Like, it’s all about the sundries. It’s all about the extra layers of yum. You can’t just get some white bread and some ham, that’s just not going to cut it. Although it will with some cheese and if it’s like deep fried but…

[00:09:54] – Steve
Do you know anybody who has any cheese?

[00:09:59] – Frankie
I might do.

[00:10:00] – Steve
Our cheese didn’t turn up this week. I don’t know why.

I think in our brains we tell ourselves we need to take an hour lunch break because that’s what work has always told us it should be. But actually, if you just take even 20 minutes to half an hour to step away and cook yourself and then sit down away from your desk with a magazine or a book or whatever.

[00:10:21] – Frankie
I listen to the radio!

[00:10:23] – Steve
Listen to a podcast.

[00:10:24] – Frankie
Yes, perfect.

[00:10:30 – Steve
It can really help, actually, when you go back to work, you are actually more productive than if you just kept on working through.

[00:10:39] – Frankie
Totally. I’m so that person that will inevitably eat pasta-pesto three days out of five or whatever at my desk. It’s just awful. And even when you’re eating it, I’m like, “why am I doing this to myself? This is not nutritious”.

Lunchtime should be about going back to square one. Rejuvenating yourself. Giving yourself some time off. Like, literally your brain needs to switch off. So when you come back to your work in the afternoon, you’re on it!

[00:11:07] – Steve
And also… going back to that fruit salad thing, that is again preparing something in advance. And maybe you could even make that in the morning when you’re making the kids breakfast or whatever, or the night before, like I do. Or you could create a little pot of nuts and things to snack on because it’s whatever to hand.

In fact, we did this thing where we started putting dried fruit and nuts in Kilner jars on the side in the kitchen so that-,

[00:11:31] – Frankie
Oh, you are good.

[00:11:32] – Steve
They are in our sight line rather than the biscuits which are in the cupboard and closed away. And so the kids do it as well, they’ll just come up and open it up and then usually not put the lid back on. But that’s another thing. Sugar snap peas as well. They’re a winner. Mmm.

[00:11:48] – Frankie
We like a sugar snap pea in this house.

And is it worth… I don’t I always do this but, you know, there’s like productivity apps type things that you set a timer and you work for like an hour at a time? Like the Pomodoro technique, that kind of thing. You could use that to aid your need to eat properly and take those little breaks to actually sort yourself out something decent to eat rather than just grab whatever crumbs are hanging around on your desk from a week ago.

[00:12:19] – Steve
If you don’t work to that kind of thing, then you could set yourself an alarm to say that you’re going to have your lunch at 12.30pm, or 1pm, or whatever.

Anybody else do that thing where you go, is it even 12pm yet? Can I eat my lunch yet?

[00:12:31] – Frankie

Well, I’m sort of the opposite. I’m like, “oh, it’s 2.30pm. No wonder I feel like I’m about to pass out…!”

[00:12:38] – Steve
And then when it comes to the evening thing. I normally cook for the kids and then get them to bed and then I cook another meal for me and my wife.

[00:12:46] – Frankie
Yeah, same.

[00:12:47] – Steve
And when she isn’t coming home, I can’t be bothered.

[00:12:52] – Frankie
Totally. I really feel for people that are on their own. Cooking every night is so exhausting because not only do you have to cook, but you have to wash up as well. You can’t just hand over washing up to somebody else.

[00:13:03] – Steve
So again, I think I try to use the freezer leftover type thing and also just kind of getting in the mode of cooking tray bake type stuff.

[00:13:17] – Frankie
Yes. We’ve got this sausage tray bake that we are eating at the moment. So good. And it literally takes three minutes to prepare.

[00:13:24] – Steve
Yeah — chuck a load of stuff in the dish, stick it in the oven.

[00:13:29] – Frankie
And then I do bedtime with the kids while it’s in the oven.

[00:13:32] – Steve
Yes! Exactly.

Then when they’re kind of asleep or getting to sleep, you come down, eat your dinner and then it’s usually just one pan, so you can whack that in the dishwasher or to soak and pretend it doesn’t exist. And that’s quite a winner. Like, try and save the complicated meals for the weekend.

[00:13:55] – Frankie

[00:13:55] – Steve
Make life easier for yourself.

Or there’s some really easy pasta dishes where you can cook them within about 15, 20 minutes.

[00:14:03] – Frankie
We have to talk about Rose at this point of The Freelancer’s Cookbook.

[00:14:07] – Steve

[00:14:07] – Frankie
Because she literally has a website full of ideas for freelance lunches. And she really turned me on to exactly that — that really quick pasta type stuff. I can’t remember what it’s called now.

[00:14:19] – Steve
Pot Noodle?

[00:14:22] – Frankie

No, she turned me on to puttanesca, which is like anchovies, capers, garlic, chilli, bit of tomato. Literally the amount of time the pasta takes to cook, the sauce takes to cook. So it all comes together at the same time. It’s literally 8-10 minutes. And it’s so yummy.

[00:14:55] – Frankie
One of the issues, I think, for a lot of people cooking those healthy meals while they’re working during the week is the washing up. The mess that it creates. You’re just making more work for yourself.

[00:15:05] – Steve

[00:15:06] – Frankie
And then you’ve got the pile of the washing in the corner and you’ve got all the other domestic stuff going on in your head ticking away, and then you’re adding to that, which can feel a bit frustrating, I suppose.

We joke about Pot Noodle, but instant noodles are also one of my go-to’s at the moment, particularly when you’ve got babies at home, because you can literally hold the baby in one arm and pour the hot water on top with the other. BOOM. Lunch!

Although I wouldn’t advise holding boiling water and your child obviously… Don’t tell the health visitor.

So a lot of us with kids do the whole meal planning thing for the week. Do you do that? I try to sit down on a Sunday night, I order my shopping online and I have an app where I track all the meals for the week in advance.

[00:15:52] – Steve
I’m impressed.

[00:15:53] – Frankie
Okay. Just me.

[00:15:55] – Steve
No, no, no, I’ve heard of such wizardry.

[00:15:59] – Frankie
The weeks where I bother to put in the lunches are the weeks where I’m really nailing life. It really pays off to take the time to plan your lunches for those work days as well.

[00:16:09] – Steve
Ah, good, yeah.

[00:16:09] – Frankie
So you get in those ciabatta rolls that I always have, or you get in some instant noodles or whatever it is that you want to eat. Stir fry, veg…

[00:16:17] – Steve
Soup! We didn’t even mention soup.

[00:16:19] – Frankie

[00:16:20] – Steve
Soup is a winner.

[00:16:22] – Frankie
Soup is amazing. And you can so easily batch cook that and it just takes minutes to heat up.

[00:16:28] – Steve
Or they sell it in cans.

[00:16:29] – Frankie
Also, if you’ve got… I’m getting all Jamie now! You can’t see the hand movements I’m doing, but I’m doing hand movements.

[00:16:35] – Steve
So am I. Different hand movements, but go on…

[00:16:39] – Frankie
If you do one of those tray bakey things with loads of veg, that can make a perfect base for a soup. No, you with me? You with me?

[00:16:48] – Frankie
Personally, I really enjoy cooking. It’s a fun thing for me to do and makes me happy.

[00:16:55] – Steve

[00:16:56] – Frankie
So often I will take that half hour out to actually cook something from scratch, because it’s a way for me to be creative that I don’t do in my job and I genuinely enjoy it. And if it’s tasty at the end, everyone’s a winner. It’s just the washing up that annoys me…

It can rejuvenate me creatively, if you see what I mean. Taking that time to cook something.

[00:17:14] – Steve

[00:17:15] – Frankie
Sounds a bit w*nky, doesn’t it?

[00:17:17] – Steve
Yeah, but I’m with you on it. I think we’re all with you on it.

[00:17:22] – Frankie

[00:17:22] – Steve
We can all buy into that w*nkiness.

[00:17:25] – Frankie
But do you see what I mean?

[00:17:27] – Steve
Yeah. No, totally. I agree. I actually really like cooking in the evening as well-,

[00:17:33] – Frankie
Same, if I have the energy for it.

[00:17:34] – Steve
I find it kind of helps me to unwind? I even, to a certain extent, don’t really mind tidying up afterwards.

[00:17:39] – Frankie
Oh, really? Wow. Okay.


[00:17:43] – Steve
Do you know what I *do* hate though? When I think I have already tidied it up and then maybe I get into a bit of work in the evening, like editing my vlog or something and I kept going a bit longer. “Oh, yeah, I’m just going to finish this, I’m going to upload it”. Suddenly it’s 11pm and I think, “oh, it’s a bit late, but it doesn’t matter because I’ve done it and I’m going to go to bed right now!” And then I turn around and walk out of the room and there’s this bomb site of a kitchen. NOOOOOOO.

[00:18:10] – Frankie
Yeah, yeah yeah. The worst!

Actually, no. The worst for that is when you’ve been working in the evening and you go to bed, and the sheets are just lying on the bed, but not on the bed. The bed has not been made. All you want to do is crawl in and you have to spend half an hour doing the duvet tug.

[00:18:33] – Steve
If you’ve got a comment about this week’s topic, how do you make time to actually look after yourself and eat properly during the day, then get in touch #DIFTKpodcast on Twitter or Instagram or of course, in the community. What do you mean you’re not in the community!

What would your advice be?

Let us know your thoughts using #DIFTKpodcast on Twitter and Instagram, and join in the conversation via the DIFTK Community on Facebook.