Hi friends 🙂
To me packing a healthy lunch is a must. Whether it’s for work, running errands, or a road trip, I don’t go anywhere without a bag of snacks. This keeps me from grabbing something unhealthy on-the-go, which most quick options are, and it keeps me satisfied so I don’t go looking for a sugary treat.
I’ve been doing this for so long that it seems second nature to me but I realize that when many people think of packing a lunch they think…
(sorry, couldn’t resist!)
So I thought I’d post some tips on how to make a healthy lunch and how to make “time fo that”:
1. Take 10 – Schedule as little as 10 minutes into your daily routine for lunch prep and make it a priority just as you would doing the dishes. I make mine while getting dinner together since I already have a mess in the kitchen. If dinner is heat-&-eat, I do it immediately after so there is no temptation to kibosh!
2. Put a Lid On It – It is so much more enjoyable to take food on the go when you have the right gear. First get yourself a cute lunch bag (or use a small-sized reusable shopper). Then purchase at least 1 set of glass containers. I bought a set of Snapware Glasslock containers at Costco and I also have 2 sets of Pyrex containers. I also highly suggest a few extra small containers for salad dressing and condiments. I got mine at the Dollarama 😉
3. Stock the Fridge – I recommend always keeping a fridge full of fresh fruits and vegetables so you can throw a sandwich or salad together at anytime. Once you get a feel for what you like in your lunch, it will be easy to know what you want to keep on hand. At the bottom of this post I included a list of shopping staples that are always on my list regardless of what meals I have planned.
4. Love Your Leftovers – In fact, make them! When you are cooking dinner, throw some extra veggies in your stir fry or bake an extra sweet potato. Then you have a main course for the next day or something to throw atop greens (sweet potatoes on spinach salad… I die :D)
3. Mindful Meal-Prep – If you’re into making a few meals to refrigerate or freeze for the upcoming week, think about what you can use for both lunches and dinners. During the cooler months I would make a giant pot of chili or stew which made a perfect no fuss meal at anytime during the week. Casseroles, homemade burgers, and salad toppings like baked tofu, quinoa, etc. made for easy lunches too!
4. KISS – Yes, Keep It Simple… Don’t plan a gourmet lunch everyday with 15 snacks or you will never stick to your guns. For me, a giant bag of baby carrots and pre-cut broccoli is the easiest way to make sure I have fresh raw veggies for one snack. Lots of fruit, nuts, homemade protein bars, individual packed yogurt, etc. also make it very easy to prep lunch in the allotted 10 minutes!
5. When All Else Fails – Keep some pre-packaged bars in the cupboard. I usually grab a few bars at the grocery store when on sale but always have a box of clif bars or Larabars in the cupboard. You can’t always perfectly plan a full week’s worth of whole foods. There will be times when you are in a pinch or too busy. As long as you eat a whole foods diet MOST of the time you are fine. Just don’t eat a Clif bar everyday Mmm K? 😉
So what does a typical lunch look like for me and when do I eat all of this food?
Disclaimer: I eat a lot more than the average person. Also, sometimes I will spread my snacks into 2 parts (i.e. fruit at 9:30 and nuts at 11:00 depending on how I feel that day). Bottom line, if you’re hungry… eat!
My general schedule of eats:
- 6:30 am – Breakfast
- 9:30 am – Mid-morning snack
- 12:00 pm – Main meal
- 2:00 pm – Mid-afternoon snack
- 4:30 pm – Pre-workout/Drive home snack
- 7:00 pm – Dinner
- 9:00 pm – Bedtime snack
Some examples of snacks and main meals:
- Banana & 1 tbsp almond butter
- Grapfruit & handful of nuts
- Homemade protein bar
- Giant salad of mostly fresh produce with a protein and a healthy fat (almost always!)
- Wrap or sandwich with small side salad
- Leftovers, of course 🙂
- Baby carrots, broccoli and 2 tbsp hummus
- 1/2-1 cup chickpeas
- 1/2-1 cup quinoa salad (quinoa, lentils, tomatoes, lemon juice, garlic)
- Homemade trail mix (almonds, cashews, raisins, dried cranberries)
- Protein shake or bar
- Any type of fruit (banana is #1)
Now that you have some guidelines and a few examples you just need to get into your own groove. Before you know it you’ll be doing this on auto-pilot. Lastly, here is my short list of grocery staples to help get you started.
- Sweet potato
- Pumpkin/sunflower seeds
- Almonds/other nuts
- Coconut yogurt
- Almond milk
- Almond butter
- Ezekial or GF bread
- GF Tortillas
- Earth Balance (buttery spread)
- Salad dressing
- Coconut oil
- Black/kidney beans
- Protein bars
- Chia/hemp/flax seeds
- Herbal tea
- Coconut water
Anything extra is picked up based on meal plans but I can’t live without the staples. Now go make time fo that 😉