Lunch is an important meal of the day and you shouldn’t take it lightly. If anything should be taken lightly, it should be dinner since you’re probably not very active past 6 PM, right? A very long time ago, when I worked in a cubicle and stared at aggregated data all day, I had a pretty boring lunch routine that consisted of PB &J, baby carrots, some kind of light Yoplait yogurt, and a piece of fruit. That’s what I ate every day. Eventually I got bored with the PB&J, encountered one too many dehydrated baby carrots, realized the yogurt had as much sugar as a candy bar, and decided to change my lunch routine.
Before I get too far with this post let’s address one very important thing. Healthy eating requires effort. It’s not always easy. It can be time consuming. It doesn’t have to be expensive but sometimes it is. It requires planning ahead, which includes a shopping list, prep time, and then remembering to bring everything you intend to eat to your workplace or school. Wow, I’m really selling you on this, aren’t I? Really though, it pays off. You will feel better, look better, have more energy, and probably save money in the long run if you invest the time it takes to choose wisely and eat healthfully. Here is how I do it:
Follow a Menu: A few years ago I got into the habit of having salads for lunch every Monday. I picked Monday because I wanted my workweek to start healthy, plus I had time on Sunday to do some prep work. In the last 18 months or so I’ve started eating salads at least two or three days a week and have turned my kitchen into somewhat of a disaster every Sunday afternoon:
Once all my grocery shopping is done I come home and start assembling salads for the week. I prefer kale over spinach. I actually don’t care for spinach at all but my love for kale has gone so far as this:
Yes, I have a kale sweatshirt. This was partly inspired by Beyonce, I won’t lie. Moving on, I prefer to put kale in the food processor but you could just tear it if you don’t mind larger pieces. I like to change up my salads each week and usually choose from the following add-ons: dates, pomegranates, raisins, berries, apples, cheese, sunflower seeds, walnuts, pecans, almonds, red onion, olives, peppers, and hard boiled eggs. This week I’m having red onions, dates, goat cheese, and sunflower seeds.
My favorite dressings are ones I make myself and are usually a blend of some kind of oil and vinegar. This is what I’m hooked on lately; you can find it at AllSpice in Des Moines!
I actually find that small mason jars or little glass mustard jars work best for transporting the dressing. I try to avoid plastic as much as possible in the kitchen, plus the glass jars are durable and easy to clean! Lots of Produce: It is really tough to get the recommended five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables each day but I sure try. I typically pack several clementines, apples, and some glass jars full of carrots (not the baby variety – I’m so over those!), celery, and red peppers and see how far into the week it gets me. Sometimes I bring hummus or peanut butter for the veggies. What is pictured below got me through three full workdays last week.
Sometimes I’ll bring chips to work. A big no-no is eating from the bag so I recommend portioning out what you want and only bringing that. I use Lunchskins, reusable snack bags. These work really well plus you can throw them in the washing machine! I’ve had this one for at least four years now!
I do love eating out for any meal but try to limit how often I eat out for lunch during the workweek. I find that I save so much money and calories if I just bring my own food. That being said, I will enjoy something from New World Cafe, La Mie, or Gazalis once or twice a month!
One of the best parts of being a wellness professional is sharing ideas with others in hopes that something I say or do will enhance their personal well being. Call me crazy but I think I actually make a difference sometimes! Maybe this will be the post that makes a difference for you! Check out my Facebook page for more lunch ideas and follow my hashtag #lunchspiration.