Feeling pressed for time? Is packing a lunch for work–or even making lunch at home for that matter–a daunting task? Well you’re in luck; read on to find strategies for quick, healthy lunches on the go. Never again sacrifice health just because you’re short on time. Remember to always make your meals balanced. Carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats should be included with every meal.
1. Fix your lunch for the next day as you are wrapping up dinner.
It is easiest to prepare a healthy, easy lunch when preparation supplies are already out and when you are already thinking about food. Making tomorrow’s lunch with tonight’s leftovers is a great way to take care of two tasks at once; just make a little extra, add veggies with protein, put it in the fridge, and be done. This will save time whilst keeping you on track.
2. Buy pre-cooked grains, beans, and legumes.
Does the thought of cooking items that take a long time turn you off? Fret not–while shopping, look for frozen and canned items that have already been cooked. Quinoa, brown rice, beans, lentils, edamame, barley, farro, and wheat berry are popular items that are sold conveniently ready to eat. Just make sure to keep an eye on sodium and aim for low numbers!
3. Keep it simple.
Making an elaborate lunch everyday is not a feasible option for most people. Not every lunch needs to be a culinary masterpiece! Throw some of your favorite vegetables and fruits into a salad; they don’t even need to be cut up. Boil eggs beforehand so you can throw one in your lunch bag for quick protein.
4. Select healthy options if you are eating out.
Sometimes eating out is the only option, but that doesn’t mean that eating healthy isn’t possible. When eating out, choose dishes that are made of mostly whole food ingredients. Salads, wraps, and soups are excellent choices. Stay away from fried foods; these contain calories that add up fast.
5. Stock up on healthy, quick options.
Let’s be honest: you won’t eat healthy if you don’t have healthy foods in the house. Try buying items that you can throw together quickly for a healthy meal. Make a grocery list and pick these up before the week starts. Here’s some ideas to get you started:
- Nuts and seeds- add these into yogurt or salad for a protein-packed crunch
- Fresh vegetables- pick your favorites and add them into a salad
- Seasonal fruits- these add color and a sweet treat to your lunch
- Protein options- eggs, nut butters, and lean meats (chicken, turkey, fish) keep you going longer
- Whole grains- oats, amaranth, and the pre-cooked grains mentioned before are all healthy grains
Stay healthy, stay happy!
-Post by dietetic interns Chelsea Ebrus and Michael Stone
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