Healthy Meal Series
Following my first post on What to Make For: Breakfast, here is round 2 of my healthy meal series where we’ll tackle What to Make For: Lunch. What in the world should you make for a healthy lunch?! Do you have to resign yourself to lettuce and grilled chicken for the rest of your life? No. Definitely not. Some of the biggest obstacles I hear most often from those trying to stick to a healthy lunch are being too busy during the day and having no time to eat anything, grabbing something unhealthy out of sheer convenience, and the ever-popular not knowing what to make. Let’s break those down, shall we?
So, you have no time to eat a healthy lunch, right? Wrong.
If you have time to stop and write an email during your day, you have time to eat lunch. I won’t even ask you to stop and eat lunch, just to physically shove something in your mouth that contains some nutrients (of course, I would prefer you stop and eat, but I’ll take what I can get for now). You have the time, you just have to make it a priority.
The trick to having something healthy for lunch? Planning ahead. Make your lunch the night before, or even better, make it the weekend before and pack it up for yourself so you can run out the door in the morning with lunch in hand. And hey, you’re (somewhat) in charge of your schedule most days, right? Schedule a standing, uninterrupted 15 minutes for yourself at your desk way in advance so you have it on your calendar. If you’re constantly on the run all day long and don’t sit at a desk, the key is to bring a cooler with you in the car filled with your healthy lunches and snacks for the whole day. You could even try one of these super cool insulated lunch boxes like this one or one of these. That way, as you’re driving from place to place, you have a healthy lunch ready to go!
But, the unhealthy stuff is just so much more convenient!
We now know that planning ahead and making your own lunches is the best way to go about sticking to a healthy routine. But, if you just can’t come to grips with planning ahead, another trick is to find your go-to healthy lunch spots and pick out your go-to healthy lunches from that spot. Find a few places you know have good options and make those your lunchtime destinations. That way, you won’t be tempted by the pizza and cupcakes in the lunch room at the office, or the 17 junk food places you drive by at lunch time.
Speaking of the office, that seems to be a place where everyone’s unwanted, unhealthy food from home comes to sabotage you and your healthy intentions. So how do you avoid such temptations? Well, you plan ahead (is that getting boring yet?). If you bring your own food to the office with you, then that’s the food you eat that day. Other people’s food no longer needs to be an option because you have set yourself up for a successful day in advance. Way to go, you. Another trick to avoiding lunch time disasters at the office? Distraction. That’s right, as you find yourself meandering to the lunch room filled with all the goodies, change directions and do a lap around the office instead. You may just get caught up in a conversation with someone and forget all about the leftover birthday cake you were destined for. Find another activity to replace the time you would have spent munching on junk in the lunch room.
Now, you’re ready to plan ahead, but you don’t know what to make. I’m here to help!
Lunch should contain the following categories: protein, veggies, whole grain (if you want), and healthy fat. If you like a little something sweet afterwards, add a piece of fruit. So, there’s your template, now, let’s get creative.
Yes, a salad is everyone’s first thought when talking about healthy lunches. And yes, I do love a good salad. If you can handle salads every day, more power to you, I think that’s awesome. Here are some really great salad options:
If the green leafy salads aren’t your thing, here are some protein based salad options:
And when you need a break from salads all together, try these make ahead options:
Enjoy your lunch!