Your Inexpensive Home Office Necessities-The Food Edition

So you have a career working from home and if you followed my guidance in Part 1 of this article, you now are working more comfortably and within budget. However, after publishing part 1, I soon realized that I had omitted some vital components that made my home office life so much better. These food related items may not have been in your original budget, but won’t break the bank so I advise you to add them in. Online careers can sound great while your SEO driven website data is being uploaded, but let’s not forget about the other side of “work” you are missing out on.

First, working from home means it is far more difficult to run to the corner deli and get yourself a hot plate of fried buffalo wings. It is so easy to look at your wilted salad in the office and make a one-time exception, but at home, you most likely have additional healthy options at your disposal. So where do we find a happy medium? Find a way to make your at home lunches taste, well, like you made it.

Ninja Air Fryer
Ninja Air Fryer

Hands down, the single best kitchen invention of the past 20 years is the air fryer. Maybe it is just a fancy hair dryer but it makes cooking easy and actually resembles freshly fried food, minus the oil.

I purchased the Ninja AF101 4Qt, shown here, and it has been replacing my microwave quicker than I could have ever imagined. For less than $100, my chicken wings, shumai, dumplings, leftover fries are now crisp, as if I had bathed them in a deep bath of artery clogging oil. In reality, I only use a very tiny amount or none and get nearly the same result. My days of missing fried buffalo fingers are gone and the frozen food aisle is once again getting my business!

Beyond the frying aspect, my wife made some Thai red pork a few weeks ago and to my surprise, it seemed to have retained far more moisture than pan frying or baking. The usually tough meat, was tender and juicy. We have since used it with hamburgers, chicken, hotdogs, corndogs, egg roles, etc. To be honest, I really don’t follow any directions but just guess at the temp and time and keep an eye open to prevent burning. Typically, 7 to 8 minutes has worked for most foods depending on if they are frozen, thickness and other variables. Regardless, this is cooking for dummies and you to will find your home office feels a bit more comfortable once you make the small investment.

As I mentioned, mine is the 4 quart version and suits me just fine. It is easy to clean (machine washable or practice your mindfulness and wash by hand). However, if your cooking for a family, go bigger with the $170 Ninja AF1651 Max XL 5.5 quart version. It has the same functions as the smaller but provides the larger basket for cooking. If you want soggy, use the microwave but for crispy and juicy, you cannot go wrong with the air fryer.

Magic Bullet Blender
Magic Bullet Blender

The next idea on my list was my blender which had been collecting dust until I went full-remote. It was an older model that I decided to put to use after seeing a commercial about smoothies. The temptation of eating my daughters ice cream was too strong and I was determined to find a healthier alternative.

It started with kale and broccoli, you know the “green” drinks and was horrible. But shortly after downing a few gulps of awfulness, I realized that I was missing my intent. My goal was not to make a meal-in-one drink but rather a better option than the popsicle was providing. On top of this, I was tired of dragging the glass behemoth out and then dreading the cleanup. This is when my second epiphany occurred.

In the trash went the obsolete blender and for less than $25 I bought the Magic Bullet Blender 11 piece set. This was the small version which was perfect for my needs although they do offer a larger NutriBullet version for $70. The latter is more suited for chopping more coarse items. Either option will work fine for my newest snack. Again, it meant returning to the frozen food aisle, but this time for berries! With just a small amount of juice (I prefer non-concentrate orange), I blend up a half cup of blueberries, strawberries or any other frozen fruit. The result is a massive dose of antioxidants and flavor that has our ice cream once again safely stored in the freezer.

You can take this however far you want and add kale, Greek yogurt or other super foods in small amounts but remember that the sugar (albeit via fruit) will add up quickly. My one last suggestion is to try to avoid using too much ice. Not only does it dully any blenders blades, the Magic Bullet is far better suited for frozen fruit that will puree in seconds. If you add ice for your pina colada, after work of course, just expect to run it for a bit longer.

AeroGarden Harvest
AeroGarden Harvest

I am not so cure why this item made it to my list other than becoming an absolutely favorite “decoration” with the lush green leaves and pleasure of seeing daily growth in my AeroGarden Harvest Elite. This compact hydroponic indoor garden is much more than a source of herbs, lettuce and vegetables. The included LED grow light creates a strong daylight condition that will brighten any home office, even those crammed into a windowless basement. I love to see the glow reflect off the green leaves, brightening the darkest of winter days.

Beyond the calm that it brings, I am effortlessly growing basil, thyme, parsley and lettuces. You can pick and choose additional seed pods separate if you want to try ones that do not come with the original starter pack. And when I say , effortless, I mean it! You fill it with water, add some fertilizer and power it up. It automatically provides the required lighting, (15 hrs. on, 9 off) and auto-waters each pod at regular intervals. If your looking for fresh herbs year-round or maybe just a little green to shake the winter blues, try this out in your office. It is easily compact enough to put on a shelf, table top or even your desk. I utilize the Harvest Elite that can be bought for $129.99. This proprietary system has been perfected to grow healthy indoor food without soil, bugs or other headaches. A slimmed down AeroGarden Harvest version with a little less bells and whistles can be purchase for around $120 on Amazon.

Garam Masala
Garam Masala

The last item I am going to mention is my little hidden secret. For the past few years I have been seasoning my tea with my own spices. After tiring of green tea, all-day long, I began to experiment with different flavoring options.

It was on one uneventful, frigid winter day when I struck tea gold! I had been looking for a chai tea mix but found them overpriced and lacking in quality. I took a chance on Frontier CO-OP’s Garam Masala Seasoning blend and my tea drinking changed forever. Just sprinkling a little of this non-GMO, all-natural, non-irradiated spice blend, my otherwise bland tea became a vibrant mix of cardamom, cloves and cinnamon, Yes, there is very fine grains of spice floating in the tea, most of which sinks, the rest, I just drink. I have tried other brands, but Frontier CO-OP’s is hands down the tastiest.

You can do your own research but in addition to the spices mentioned, there is also black pepper, coriander and cumin pack in. These all have health benefits including blood thinning as I discovered a bit late and after nose surgery that had my surgeon astounded. At times, I get really bold and add a tiny dash of Cayan pepper but be weary, it is very strong.

I hope these items will not only intrigue you but also open your eyes to other remedies for those missing some of the comforts at a traditional office. Now you just need to find someone to Zoom with while you try out your trendy diet!


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