Healthy School/Work Friendly Recipe Series #4:
I can recall a time where I struggled packing my lunch. I over complicated it. I would look for ideas online and end up taking something that took too much time or it ended up being gross and gooey by lunch time trying to stick to my healthy clean eating.
Then I came to the realization that lunch shouldn't have to be complicated. And after that the rest is history and I have developed a K.I.S.S ( Keep It Simple Stupid) method for packing my healthy lunches.
Today I want to share with you some healthy lunch packing tips I have picked up over the years.
1. Let's start at the grocery store:
It can be overwhelming stepping into that store. I get it. And rule number 1 is never shop hungry. So eat an apple on the way!
Also, stick to he perimeter of the store. That is where the freshest cleanest ingredients are. From produce, poultry, Greek yogurts, and etc. The exception to going toward the center are whole grains such as couscous, quinoa, whole grain breads, and oats. Other than those few ingredients, stick to the perimeter and you will stay on track.
2. Meal prep, meal prep, meal prep!
I usually set aside 2-3 hours on a Sunday afternoon to prep my veggies, cook my meats, grains,and lunches for the next few days to ensure that I don't stray from my meal plan.
I usually make 1 giant salad and separate each component ( cheese, salsa, cooked chicken, cucumbers, etc) in separate containers, so all I have to do is throw all ingredients into my lunch container and I am good to go!
Now, just because you made a salad doesn't mean it's healthy. Stick to fresh veggies, lean meats, and low sugar and reduced fat dressing. Dressings can be the one thing that ruins this healthy meal. Just read the nutrition labels or make your own home made dressing.
3. Portions Matter
I have found that too much healthy food is still too much food. So measure and portion your meals accordingly. Don't stuff that container to the brim with whole wheat pasta. Measure out ½ cup and add fresh veggies and marinara sauce and you have a healthy balanced lunch!
Also, it's worth it to indulge in a good lunch box. I LOVE my Laptop Lunchbox. It basically measures your portions for you and there is so many ways to use it!
It comes with multiple containers in which you can put baby carrots, cucumbers, berries, or even Teddy Grahams! The options are endless! I have lots of Laptop Lunch Ideas in earlier posts if you need more ideas. Not to mention they are colorful and adorable! They also sell ones for your kids, so everyone in the family can enjoy them!
Also, click the Laptop Lunchbox Ad to the right to purchase one if you are interested!
The example I have for you today is a classic chef salad.
For salads in this lunch box, I like to maximize the space and take all the containers out and just stuff it with lettuce, fresh veggies, and lean protein. And I use the small 1 tbs container to put my dressing in. I chose light ranch this time.
2 cups of chopped romaine
2 tbs reduced fat mozzarella cheese
2 oz cubed ham
¼ cup diced avocado
1 tbs reduced fat and/or low sugar dressing
Toss all ingredients minus the dressing in your lunch box container and enjoy at lunch time!
Colleen (Souffle Bombay) says
Great tips and just in time for back to school!
[email protected] Mom says
Great tips and I totally agree, portions are the key!
Samantha Seeley says
I need to start making time at night to prep for the day before. thanks for the tips
I would totally try to trade my sad, sorry lunch for your salad. That looks DELICIOUS!
Kim (Feed Me, Seymour) says
This is perfect! I am always looking for quick and easy lunches to grab and take to work. Anything that requires too much prep, I lose interest.
I have such a taste for a healthy salad now...you have no idea!
Love this! I try to make all of my lunches on Sunday so I'm ready to go. Sometimes I end up eating frozen meals, but try for organic and such.
Sarah Walker Caron (Sarah's Cucina Bella) says
I am so guilty of overcomplicating my lunches too. I love this simple, but fresh, idea. And great tips. Thanks!
Smart lunch tips! Sometimes I find lunch hard to pack because I rely on leftovers, and if I don't have leftovers, then I'm struggling for lunch.
Mind Over Batter (@MindOvrBatterNY) says
Great tips!!! I always have trouble with planning out my lunches, so I can really use them! This salad looks delicious!!
I definitely needed these tips! I lack in the healthy lunch packing department.
claire @ the realistic nutritionist says
great post!! I'm the worst at packing healthy lunches.
That salad looks incredible! Great tips!
Ginny McMeans says
You have given some really good tips. I especially like the portion control!
Healthy lunches are easy when you make the time for preparation. Great tips!