Let’s talk lunch shall we? Do you have a go-to set of foods you usually pack in your lunchbox? Or do you typically buy lunch everyday? Growing up, we usually packed our own, except on the Mexican pizza days at school, because who would want to miss out on those?! In high school, I almost exclusively took my lunch with me to school and the habit has stuck with me to this day at work.
Honestly, I believe that packing a lunch can truly benefit anyone looking to make healthier choices and/or lose weight. It’s so much easier to eat the healthy food you have prepared for yourself than cave to the temptation of the pizza and chicken tenders at the cafeteria or skip it entirely. For fun, I thought I would start sharing a few tips and examples of healthy lunch ideas for work. It will be a challenge for me as well since I get kind of stuck in a rut when it comes to variety in what I pack. For example, I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich every single day for my entire dietetic internship. Ha!
Here’s one example of a typical healthy lunch for me:
1. Create a hearty salad: Every week we buy a huge container of spring mix and some beans from the bulk bins at the store. On Sunday, we’ll cook up the beans and separate them into containers for the week. I’ll use the antioxidant-rich spring greens as my base, add about 1/3-1/2 cup of cooked beans (fiber and protein!), cheese, and toppings (healthy fats) to create a healthy and filling salad. If you aren’t a vegetarian (or you don’t like beans), feel free to substitute another protein like baked chicken. (Don’t leave the protein off though!)
2. Add a side of fruit: As a side, I’ll add a piece of fresh fruit. I usually have an apple with peanut butter, but if something catches my eye at the store – like a juicy pear or fresh berries, I’ll bring those.
3. Incorporate some additional protein: Usually, I’ll also have a yogurt for some extra protein and a little bit of sweet to finish off my lunch. Cottage cheese, string cheese, nuts, or trail mix are also good options!
4. Water to drink: There is honestly no better beverage for you than plain water. I take my lunch break (if I get one) as an opportunity to reassess how much water I’ve had so far in the day, and fill up my bottle. Drop a couple of pieces of fresh fruit (like lemon or orange wedges or sliced strawberries) to make your water a little more exciting. Check out this orange ginger mint spa water for inspiration!