Monday, March 31, 2014

Getting out of the house, streamlined.

My new job seems to be going well.  I'm enjoying it, and it's good to be employed again.

One thing I was worried about is that I'd spend a lot of money on meals out.  I have been pleasantly surprised by how this has not been the case.  Unless I have plans to meet someone for lunch, I'm eating in. (I think the cold winter has helped in this regard; I have been reluctant to leave the building.) I haven't been cheating by going out for lunch or grabbing breakfast, even though I am up before dawn. I'm not bragging (I still get snacks since I never seem to have brought enough). I've just gotten into a routine.

So, as  you know, my days are long. My commute, thanks to traffic and the subway, can take anywhere from one and a half to two hours each way.  Most of that is on a bus, which is great. The bus is quiet and comfortable and it goes right into the High Occupany Vehicle Lane.  The bane of my commuting existence is the subway.

However, because the commute is so long, and because I like getting to work on time, I'm up at 4:30 in the morning. Well, my alarm goes off at 4:30. Sometimes I stay in bed until 5:00.

How do you get ready in the morning when the sun isn't up yet? Well, it helps to do most everything else ahead of time. It also helps that I just have the cat to take care of. If I had kids this whole thing would be nuked before it started. (Seriously, I don't know how you parents do it.) It also helps that my hours are regular. I'm not working split shifts, or varied hours.

My clothes are picked out so I don't have to stress about what I've got and what I'll wear.  I don't eat breakfast at home, I eat it at work. I bring it with me, along with my lunch. And I don't make my lunch the night before. I make it several weeks ahead.

Basically, I make a lot of something I like, freeze it, and grab it for my lunch in the morning.  So far, I have been making burritos--either bean burritos or burritos from leftover meat.  I made a batch of chili last weekend and froze it in small containers to take with me to work. I'll do the same thing with curries, stews, soups, and creatively repurposed leftovers. I'm not a big sandwich eater, and I have found that making sandwiches is kind of a pain, especially when you have to either make them the night before or make them at 4:30 in the morning. I might not be able to do it the night before.

I also made steel cut oatmeal in the slow cooker one weekend.  This was actually quite easy and I will do it again. Grease the insert of the cooker.  Combine two cups of steel cut oats, six cups of water, and two cups of milk (I used almond milk).  Add 1/4 cup of brown sugar if you want it a little sweet, and 2-3 peeled chopped apples if you like. Cook on low for eight hours or high for four hours. Have some right off the bat if you like as it's delicious. Allow it to cool, and save one cup portions in plastic freezer bags. Freeze, and grab and go in the morning. I do take a little almond milk with me as well in a small container as the oatmeal gets very thick when you reheat it. But it's good and it's filling.

I also bring yogurt and fruit. I'll probably bring vegetables and hummus.

Now, I just have to tackle keeping the house orderly during the week.


  1. I can't imagine spending 3-4 hours a day commuting. At least you can do other things if you are on a bus. My commute is in a car and is about 35 minutes one way and I am limited in my ability to multi-task since I should be paying attention to the road!

    Glad you discovered crock pot steel cut oats. My kids love it. I just make it with water and oats and sometimes some spices, but however you make it, it's nice to know that you can have a hot breakfast waiting for you when you awake. I also typically pour out cereal in my bowl the night before work so all I have to do is add milk in the morning, which works great if the cat doesn't get to it first (who knew he would like bran flakes??).

    I'm happy life is getting sorted out for you.

    1. Kris,
      the previous 4 years I drove my daughters to high school on the main highway, during rush hour, for 30 minutes each way. I had the opportunity to see a lot of multi-tasking by drivers on their way to work. Brushing teeth -- very common. Shaving with electric razor (men only) -- a few times. Lot's of mascara/lipstick applications. But the funniest one (and probably the most dangerous), was the lady plucking her eyebrows, while driving! I gave her lots of room on the road!

      Just think of all the stuff you could get done with that 35 minutes in the morning. Plug the waffle iron into the cigarette lighter and you could cook breakfast in the mornings, while on the road! Yeah, it's a bit of a balancing act, but think how great your car would smell each morning!

  2. HI Pamela,
    My two daughters have a similar experience everyday. They are up long before they're happy to be up. And they have a 2-bus commute each morning. They take the commuter bus downtown, then have to walk a couple of blocks to get the local bus to campus. On weekends, I help them out with lunches and get a bunch of sandwiches all made. Then the night before, they put together a lunch of sandwich, fruit, nuts, cookie/drink. They eat breakfast on the bus, which is often oatmeal, sometimes granola, and occasionally muffins or cinnamon rolls. The bus driver really frowns over the oatmeal or granola (sloshy).

    The afternoons have a 3-bus commute many days per week, if I'm not available to go get them from the park and ride. I drive them to the bus every morning, though.

    The up side is they have a lot of time for reading. And this is teaching them to be more efficient with their time. They've also both just applied for food service jobs in the campus cafeteria. They'll work a couple of 3-hour shifts, and get a free lunch. I think they're most excited to not have to pack a lunch in the morning (or eat another bean spread or peanut butter sandwich), and get the free one, more than getting paid $$.

    Then one area that I've never been able to get to adopt is setting out clothes the night before. Fortunately, they're students, so whatever they put on seems to be okay.

    I'm glad that your new job is going so well. :-)

  3. As for keeping the house orderly during the week, when I worked I had a plan that worked. I would not leave my chair in the den unless I looked around for something to take into the room where I intended to go. If I were going to the kitchen, I carried something to the kitchen that belonged there. It was the same for any trip I made to bedroom or bathroom.

    I would clean the commode one night, the tub one night, the sink one night. I probably did not spend more than 15 minutes each night and that was in fits and starts. But, on the weekend, little was necessary. I washed clothes on Saturday bought groceries on Sunday and cooked for the week and packed five lunches. It might seem like I never had a day off, but it worked for me.