Eating a healthy lunch and making it ahead of time is not that hard if you follow these six steps. Maintaining a healthy relationship with your food can help you live longer and healthier.
We all understand how convenient it can be to order takeout for lunch at work, so you don’t have to get up earlier to pack your lunch. This typically happens when you don’t know what to pack for lunch or haven’t found the time to fit it into your already busy schedule.
If you have been struggling to improve your lunch meals (or even eat lunch), save money, improve your health, or find a little extra time to relax during your lunch? Let’s talk about how you can successfully take your lunch with you during the week.
6 tips to ensure success with packed lunches
Tip 1. Fill your lunch bag with something you’ll want to eat.
Who wants a soggy salad or a dry sandwich? Pack something that you look forward to eating. There are tons of healthy meal prep meals you can pack for lunch. Healthy meals can be delicious too, so spend a little of your downtime looking at things you can take for lunch that you’ll really want to eat. For ideas, go to Pinterest for meal prep suggestions. If you don’t like to cook, (or meal prep) and want a healthy daily lunch, check out local restaurants like Clean Eatz that specializes in healthy, portioned controlled meals that can be ordered and picked up for the week. They are made fresh weekly, can be frozen, and they offer quite a variety on their menu. If you don’t have a Clean Eatz locally, there may be something like it in your area.
Tip 2. Make a lunchtime meal plan.
hen you don’t plan your lunch, you might end up with something you don’t want or realize you don’t have enough ingredients to even pack yourself a lunch. Give it some thought before the week rolls around, so you have a lunch meal plan to follow. For example; if you usually cook on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, you can cook extra and take leftovers on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. While cleaning up after cooking, go ahead and pack your lunch for the next day and all you have to do is grab it in the morning and go! That just leaves Tuesdays and Thursdays to plan for. You could purchase 2 pre-made salads with protein from the grocery store/ healthy home delivery meals, along with some fruit like apples, pears, or grapes and take them to work on Monday morning so those lunches will be there for you during the week. Take a few extra pieces of fruit for a healthy snack when you need one.
Tip 3. Don’t over complicate things
- It doesn’t have to be complicated to work for you. Find something simple to put together and easy to enjoy at work. If you like to keep it simple and don’t really need a lot of variety during lunch, simply figure out portions for the week.
Example of healthy food and portions:
-1 package of healthy wraps or loaf of whole grain bread.
-8 ounces of grilled chicken.
-8 ounces sliced turkey, ham, or tuna.
-Bag of shredded lettuce/veggies.
-Shredded or sliced cheese.
-5 pieces of fruit – apples, oranges, bananas, pears, etc.
Measure out your protein in 3 ounce servings and put in ziplock bags or containers. In the morning just pull out your wrap or bread, add your 3 ounces of protein, add veggies and condiments. Grab your piece of fruit, along with any salt snack you may want, such as pretzels or chips.
If you purchase items that are individually wrapped, like chips, popcorn, pretzels, nuts, cookies, it helps with portion control as well as the added convenience of just grab and go.
Tip 4. Think of new options.
Think about things like grain bowls, mason jar salads, and other easy prep options that will have you dreaming about your packed lunch during that morning meeting. For your grain bowl, it’s simple. Either cook or purchase pre cooked items such as brown rice, quinoa, lentils, and have cans of black beans, corn or other vegetables that you like on hand. Toss some of each of these in a container, add some shredded lettuce, grilled chicken or other protein and you are ready to go! You can always add some seasoning like cumin, chili powder, garlic, cilantro, or whatever seasonings you really like. Make a couple of these and store in the fridge for your lunch. A great lunch to prepare ahead for the week is mason jar salads. You can make 5 on the weekend to store in the fridge for either lunch or dinner and you’ve got a healthy pre-made meal in a snap. You can make different variations of a salad so you don’t tire of eating the same thing. Start by putting your vegetables and grains in first and your greens on the top. Have small containers for your dressing and don’t forget to take your bowl and utensils with you to work! It’s amazing how fresh these salads stay while stored in glass containers.
Tip 5. Give leftovers a facelift.
You may have planned ahead for a packed lunch by making extras at dinner. As delicious as it might be, taking the same meal for the next few days is going to get boring quickly. Turn leftover chicken into a burrito bowl. Stuff salad into a pita and add a little protein. Be creative with your conversions for lunches that you’ll love.
Tip 6. Get good containers.
Above all, when planning or packing your lunch for work each week, it helps to invest in the right containers. Find containers with lids that lock into place, so you don’t wind up with a bag full of lentils and rice. They also make ones with separate sections so you can get all of your food groups in without having to bring five different containers.
Use your lunch break as a mid-day reprieve. Put your work aside, find a way to create some calm in the middle of your day, and slow down for a few minutes. Even if it’s a small 10-minute meditation app, or a visit to a local park while enjoying a healthy lunch, it’ll make a world of difference in your day. By bringing your lunch more often, you’ll feel more in control of your healthy habits!