Good morning! It’s Monday! You finally made it to work – 10 minutes late. You traversed an accident, a construction zone detour, and because you burned the midnight oil, you hit snooze twice before you got out of bed. Mornings are hard. The last thing on your mind was what you were going to eat for lunch, but now it is 11:30 and you’re starting to feel hungry!
It’s time figure out where and what to eat. The two lunch places that sell “healthy” choices are each a 15 minute drive from your office and you don’t have time for THAT today! There are several burger & French fry options close by but you really were planning to try to cut out fast food. If this all sounds too familiar, it might be time to put a widely known, but seldom practiced, habit into place. That’s right, we’re talking about how to prepare a healthy work lunch. WAIT! Don’t panic. This is going to be easier than you think. Hear us out.
Packing a healthy lunch doesn’t have to feel like a sacrifice. Ninety percent of the time, your healthy choice is going to be MUCH more delicious and filling than any grab & go option out there. You can tailor your lunch towards foods that are rich in fiber, protein and nutrients to fuel your brain and body and steer clear of ingredients that are going to spike your blood sugar and lead to those 2:00 p.m. sugar cravings. If that doesn’t sound awesome, think of it this way: For anyone who is trying to save a few bucks, you could be looking at cutting up to $50 a week from your expenses!!
So, what should you pack? What makes a healthy lunch? And how are you going to find the time to get it together? We have the answers!
Here’s what we’re packing in our lunch this week:
Monday – Grilled chicken salad
Tuesday – Turkey wrap, bell pepper strips with hummus for dipping
Wednesday/Friday – Same as Monday
Thursday – Same as Tuesday
Here’s what you need to do: Decide what you’re going to eat this week and how many days you’re going to pack. Ideally, you’d pack every day but going cold turkey on eating out might not be sustainable for you at first. Also consider this: The more variety you put into your lunches, the more time and steps this is going to take. Start simple and if you find you want more variety and have the time, you can add it in next week. Go to the grocery store today and buy the food you are going to pack. Shop for other things if you need them, but the purpose of this trip is to get food for your lunches.
Here’s our grocery list for the above lunch plan:
- 1 fresh pack of boneless skinless chicken breast cutlets
- ½ pound sliced turkey breast from the deli
- 1 container of hummus (usually found in the refrigerated dairy section)
- 2 bell peppers (1 red and 1 green)
- 1 large head of romaine (or any other leafy green besides iceberg)
- 1 tomato
- 1 red onion
- 1 bag of sliced carrots
- 1 bag of broccoli/cauliflower mix
- 1 bottle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 bottle of Balsamic Vinegar
- 1 package of whole grain, low carb tortillas or wraps
Stop in the food container/storage aisle and pick up medium sized reusable containers with lids and condiment sized containers with lids (these are both often sold in 3 packs, which is handy for our preparation purposes.) You might want to get 2 sets of this size.
Here’s what you need to do when you get home from the store:
- Take all of your food home and clear off your kitchen counter.
- Line up your salad containers and lay out 2 sheets of aluminum foil bigger than your tortillas.
- Wash your produce. Chop up the lettuce and divide it equally into each salad container, setting a little aside for your turkey wraps if you like salad in your wrap.
- Chop the tomato and onion and divide them into your containers, again reserving some for your wraps if you like.
- Split the broccoli/cauliflower mix and sliced carrots up between the 3 containers, as well. OMG LOOK! You have salad!! Snap the lids on your containers and stack them in your fridge. Boom. Done.
- Now, cook your chicken breast however you like it. Bake it, grill it, do it up on the stovetop, season it with salt, pepper, or whatever other seasoning you like on chicken just don’t make it too complicated.
- Once you’re done cooking your chicken, place it on a plate to cool off a bit. While your chicken is cooling, lay out 2 of the whole grain tortillas on the sheets of aluminum foil.
- Top them each with 2 or 3 slices of the turkey breast and some of the lettuce, onion and tomato you set aside, earlier.
- Roll up your wraps, cover them with the foil sheets and place those in your fridge next to your salad containers. Tada! Wraps!
- Next, slice up the bell peppers into strips and divide them into 2 plastic baggies. Don’t freak out about the seeds, you can eat these, it doesn’t have to be perfectly clean.
- Finally – grab your condiment sized containers and measure out 1 tablespoon of the olive oil into 3 of the containers. Add 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar to each container of olive oil. Put the lids on. You don’t need to refrigerate these but if it makes it easier for you to remember to grab in the morning, go ahead and put them in the fridge next to your salads.
- Into 2 more condiment sized containers, place 2 tablespoons of the hummus. These do need to go into the fridge. Put them next to the bell pepper strips.
- Go get your cooled chicken and slice it up into strips for your salads. Add it to your containers in the fridge.
You, my friend, now have 5 days of healthy lunches for work! All you have to do is grab your containers out of the fridge in the morning and be on your way! We can’t help with the construction detour or traffic jams, but we feel better knowing that you’re not going to be hitting up the drive-thru in a hangry craze for lunch this week!