The Startup Diet: How $99 and four hours every 2 weeks can provide rocket fuel to an Entrepreneur
Author: Terry Beech, Co-Founder and CEO of HiretheWorld
Startup entrepreneurs often have it pretty tough when they’re first starting out. Money is always tight, and spare time is even tighter. Everyone knows that you’re more productive if you exercise and maintain a healthy diet”¦ but the entrepreneurial lifestyle can make this really hard. It’s just too easy to grab a slice of pizza after a venture capitalist thrashes your latest presentation, or to skip the gym after an all night coding session pushing out that last bit of awesomeness into the last sprint cycle.
There are healthier alternatives to eating out other than pizza, but to get a decent meal will usually cost you between $10 to $20 even if you’re being frugal”¦ and let’s face it, you can only check out that sushi place so many times a week.
Since the level of my endurance seems to be directly correlated to the number of goals I score in hockey each week I decided to sit down and architect a meal plan that could work with my “no time” lifestyle. I wasn’t sure exactly how I was going to pull this off, but I decided to run the experiment just like I would run a new product at my startup”¦ get to market fast and then iterate, iterate, iterate.
I sat down with a pen and paper and articulated some goals for the meals including the following three rules:
- I wanted the food to be delicious – if I was going to give up Sushi Town and Excite Cajun chicken burgers then I wanted my taste buds to be happy.
- The food had to be as nutritious as possible while still respecting rule #1
- The preparation time should be no more than 1 day per month – sometimes I don’t feel like I have time to order food, so it had to be fast or else I would fail.
With this in mind I assessed the resources I had on hand. I have a deep freeze, so storage of meals would be easy enough, but I have a small kitchen so I would have to be efficient about the variety of food I could cook so that I could minimize potential time wasting bottlenecks like baking time in the oven. I put together a preliminary grocery list and headed out to superstore and a local produce grocery that sells local produce at reasonable prices. I decided to make home made V8 veggie smoothies for breakfast and full meals for lunch. This way I could drink my breakfast in the car on the way to work, and warm up a good hearty lunch in our office’s kitchen.
At the end of the day, my experiment has worked out beautifully as you can see below”¦ and now I’m going to share with you exactly how it’s done.
16 Delicious lunches
Amazing what you can do it just a couple of hours!
Three Iterations later”¦
This initial experiment worked out fairly well and I am now into my third iteration almost six weeks from when I initially started out”¦ I’ve documented my third cook in specific detail so that you can copy it precisely if you wish.
V8 Best Way to “Startup” your day -Breakfast Smoothie:
|Canned Tomatoes||2||Large Cans||$ 2.43|
|Roma Tomatoes||1.96||lbs||$ 2.53|
|Orange Pepper||0.77||lbs||$ 4.69|
|Compari Tomato||30||Units||$ 3.00|
|English Cucumber||2||Units||$ 2.58|
|baby carrots||3||lbs||$ 4.47|
The above list of ingredients makes 16 Startup Veggie Shakes for about $2.09 each. Each individual smoothie is packaged on a veggie assembly line into 16 individual large sized zip lock freezer bags. An individual smoothie generally contains:
- 2 Canned tomatoes and two table spoons of juice
- 1/2 of an apple
- 1 stick of celery
- 1 Roma tomato
- 2 tablespoons of pomegranate seeds
- 1/2 an orange pepper
- 3 compari tomatoes
- 1/8 of a Long English Cucumber
- a big handful of spinach (lots of spinach)
- a fistful of baby carrots
- a splash of Worchester sauce
I usually have two bags in the fridge at a time, and my morning routine generally looks like this. Take a new ziplock out of the freezer and place it in the fridge as I grab this morning’s beverage. Put the contents in the blender and place on high while I rinse out the ziplock bag. It is important to rinse out the bag right away to save cleaning time later. Then pour the drink into a gravy container and rinse out the blender. I use a plastic wide mouthed gravy shaker for the drink because it’s easy to drink in the car and easy to clean when I’m done. I usually finish the beverage in the car ride to the office and rinse out the shaker while I grab my morning coffee or water.
The Entrepreneur’s Lunch:
|Frozen Cranberries||1||lbs||$ 1.98|
|Brown Rice||2||Cups||$ 0.72|
|Thompson Raisins||1||Cup||$ 0.85|
|Walnut Pieces||0.4||lbs||$ 2.59|
|Firm Tofu||1||lbs||$ 1.99|
|Red Onion||1||Unit||$ 0.65|
|Red Pepper||1.55||lbs||$ 3.08|
|White Mushroom||0.79||lbs||$ 1.57|
|Salmon Fillet||1.15||KG||$ 15.74|
|Chicken Thighs||2 — 6||Piece Packs||$ 13.11|
|Pork Steak||2||$ 5.99|
|Veal Cutlet||2||$ 3.70|
For lunch I made a combination of stir fry’s as I found this to be the easiest way to mass produce a healthy meal in a mass production format while still giving each lunch some variety. In general the meals change week to week by changing the following variables:
- Type of Stir Fry — I vary between sweet chili, just spices, curry, szechwan, sweet & sour, honey maple etc.
- Components of the base- I tend to use 1 part Quinoa and 1 part brown rice. My latest mix using two cups of each plus a pound of cranberries and a can of pineapple will probably stick around for awhile”¦ Yummy!
- Types of Meat/Tofu– I usually get chicken thighs or breasts every week and then try to spice it up. This week I got a great deal on a beautiful Salmon Fillet which made up almost half of my meals”¦ but I try to have fun.
Today for lunch I had a honey-lemon glazed salmon over Szechwan stirfry and a bed of quinoa/brown rice with cranberries and pinapple and in total it cost me $3.66. Eat your heart out cafeteria goers. This is saving me almost $10 a meal from the cafeteria in my office which really adds up over time. Plus I’m controlling all of the ingredients. All of the vegetables are fresh and I’m not adding any oils or preservatives that seem to find there way into your usual cafeteria lunch.
Operationally the cook is very structured but quite easy.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Wash and cut up all vegetables and store in two separate containers
- I usually cook fish on “minimum” on a tabletop grill I have and just flip it and season it occasionally while I cook the rest of the food
- I do two separate stirfrys to vary the meals
- Any breasts or pork steaks are generally baked
- Chicken thighs are usually cut in half and fried
- This week I had veal which I cooked right at the end because it has to be watched more closely.
In all it takes 4 hours to make both the breakfast shakes and the lunches and get them packed away into the freezer.
Verdict? I’m six weeks in and already have noticed massive spikes in my energy levels. My day starts faster and lunch speeds by. I’ve been able to work on pitches or look over financials deep into the night and can be ready to go the next day without relying on caffeine. If you’ve got a bustling life schedule, and are fed up with some of the poor lunch decisions you’re getting forced into I’d suggest giving this a try.
Author: Terry Beech, Co-Founder and CEO of HiretheWorld