Sunday, June 26, 2016

Five Easy and Healthy Lunches


I get asked a lot about how I plan for lunches, so I thought I would share what I do to successfully plan and pack lunches for me and my husband for the week.

I have 3 main strategies to get us set up on lunch for the week:
1. On many Sundays, I meal prep some meals that we can grab for the week.
2. I use dinner as an opportunity to make enough food for leftovers to get used for lunches.
3. I keep simple ingredients on hand that can be used to prepare for lunch the next day, in a pinch.

I will now share some examples of what I do.  The big theme you will see here is: I keep it very, very simple.  Working full time with 3 kids at home does not leave me a lot of time to make elegant food, but eating healthy is very important. and very possible.  This is why i plan the menu for the week  carefully.  I spend a period of time every evening prepping food for the next day.  You do have to prioritize time for this to be successful.  But it doesn't have to take up all of your time either, when you keep it simple.

Example 1: Chicken/veggie/quinoa dish

  • This meal is a good Sunday meal prep activity.
  • Take about 2 lbs of chicken, seasoned with salt and pepper, and place in a baking dish in the oven at 350 for about 30 minutes (depending on chicken thickness).  Shred it when it comes out.
  • Cut up a bunch of vegetables and roast them.  Roasted vegetables is something I shared in a previous blog post.
  • Cook up a bunch of quinoa on the stovetop.
  • Package this up for the week.
  • If the taste is too bland, add a tablespoon of dijon mustard, BBQ sauce, or your favorite condiment.
  • I divide a little of each amongst several containers.
    I usually package 4 oz. chicken and 1 cup cooked quinoa per container.
    I then add as many vegetables as can fit in the container.

Example 2: Black bean bowl
  • This meal is a good prep the night before example.
  • Drain and rinse a can of black beans.
  • Cook up a bunch of quinoa on the stovetop.
  • Chop up a head of lettuce.
  • Pull out a bag of shredded cheddar.
  • In separate bowl, mix the quinoa and black beans.  
  • Put a portion of lettuce and shredded cheddar into separate bag or container.
  • For lunch - heat up the quinoa/black bean mix, then mix in the cheese towards the end.
  • Mix in plain greek yogurt or salsa, if you would like some more flavor.

    Packaged lunch.
Use the lettuce as a wrap or make it like a salad.  
You could also use a whole wheat tortilla. 


Example 3: Chicken salad

  • This is a good at home option for lunch.
  • Cut up your favorite veggies.  I like radishes and tomatoes.
  • Cut up lettuce and spinach.
  • Grill up a bunch of chicken.
  • Mix in nuts and/or cheese.
  • Feel free to add your favorite dressing, or oil and vinegar.

I used feta cheese on this one.


Example 4: Tuna salad 

  • Another good prep the night before option.
  • Hard boil a bunch of eggs.  If you are tired, buy hard boiled eggs in the bag at your local grocery store.
  • Chop up some celery.
  • Chop up the hardboiled eggs.
  • Mix some tuna with plain Greek yogurt.
  • Add the celery and eggs to this mix.
  • Package it up.
  • You can eat it as a wrap with lettuce.  Again, you could also use a whole wheat tortilla.
Tuna is packed with protein and can give you a lot of staying power.

Example 5: Chicken stir fry

  • This meal is an example of making a dinner portion and using leftovers for lunch the next day.
  • Cut up your favorite veggies.  If you are feeling tired, buy a bag of mixed veggies in the produce section of your grocery store.
  • Grill up a bunch of chicken.
  • You can either cook up some brown rice, quinoa, or farro on the stovetop - or you can use cauliflower rice, which is what I decided to do in this case.

A popular option for us at home is to make stir fry for dinner.
Then we take leftovers for lunch the next day.
Here are the dinner leftovers, packaged up for lunch.

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