It’s Monday morning, you’re rushing to leave for work for work on time, and as you open the front door, you remember that you didn’t pack a lunch. It looks like you’ll be ordering out – again!
We get it – figuring out healthy lunches for the workweek can be tricky, especially if you’re frequently pressed for time or you’re just not that into cooking. However, the benefits of enjoying a balanced, satisfying meal during your workday far outweigh the minor inconvenience of a little food prep. You’ll feel better, have more energy, and be better able to tackle problems with your improved mental focus.
Here are some examples of easy workweek lunches that can help fuel your success:
If you need variety to feel satisfied with a meal, putting together a snack plate of nutrient rich foods is a great option. Consider including things like sliced veggies, hummus, your favorite deli meat or a pouch of tuna, hard boiled eggs, nuts and cheese, avocado/guacamole, and pretzels. The combinations are endless! If you feel like a treat, throw in a little sweet surprise to round out your meal.
Salads get a bad rap, but they don’t have to be boring! Start with a generous helping of your favorite greens, and then add a protein – tuna, leftover chicken, or hard-boiled eggs are easy options. Then, to make things more fun for your palate, include a few tasty add-ons, such as: nuts, avocado, fresh fruit, cheese, your favorite sliced vegetables, and/or your favorite salad dressing.
Do you tend to eat smaller meals during the day and enjoy a larger meal in the evening? Or maybe you’re working on the road and don’t have much time to spend eating lunch? In either case, smoothies can be a fast and satisfying choice! The options are endless here, too – start with a base like fruit juice, milk, or coconut water, and your favorite fruit(s) – fresh or frozen are both fine. Add a handful of greens and a serving of healthy fat like nut butter or flaxseeds. If you want to get fancy with it you can add some superfood or protein powder, but these are optional.
Would any workweek lunch list be complete without the dearly beloved sandwich or wrap? They’re classics for a reason – they’re easy to assemble, easy to eat, and if you fill them with the right things, they can tame your hunger for the rest of your shift! Get some fiber by starting with whole grain bread or a wrap, then add your favorite protein, some thinly sliced veggies, and a healthy but tasty spread like hummus or mashed avocado. Enjoy with a piece of fresh fruit and you’re good to go!
Leftovers: The Remix
Get creative with your leftovers as if you were auditioning for Food Network’s Chopped! What can you do with last night’s dinner to put a fresh spin on it for today’s lunch? Perhaps you could make an egg scramble using leftover protein and veggies, or stuff them into some pita bread with a bit of cheese and heat it up for a DIY Hot Pocket! Repurposing leftovers is an excellent way to cut food costs while still enjoying variety in your meals.
Keep in mind that nutritional and dietary needs vary from person to person, so this list is just a basic starting point – you can add, omit, or combine items from the list above according to your personal needs and preferences.
If you’re really pressed for time in the morning and simply can’t make lunch each day, consider prepping your weekly lunches ahead of time on a day when you do have some flexibility in your schedule. Getting into the habit of packing healthy lunches that you enjoy will help set you (and your appetite) up for success for years to come!