When days get busy, many people resort to fast food drive-throughs and frozen convenience meals that leave a lot to be desired in terms of nutritional content. But what you eat for lunch can either recharge or drain your energy for the rest of the day, thereby either boosting or ruining your productivity. Packing your lunch for work, school, or travel days takes a bit of advance planning and preparation, but your body and your wallet will thank you at the end of the day.
Here are a few healthy lunch ideas to promote clean eating and help you live the most natural life possible.
Cold Salad Variations
Forget the notion that lunchtime salads are boring and unsatisfying because today’s modern salads have a lot of flavor and satisfaction to offer. If you’re in a rush, you can often find prepared salad mixes in the refrigerated section of your grocery store. To switch things up, make larger salad batches at home that can be spread out over multiple days for lunches. Delicious options include cold salads with quinoa, black beans, chickpeas, carrots, avocado, ginger, mushrooms, and bell peppers. Just drizzle some olive oil with a squirt of lemon on your salad to skip the fatty and calorie-packed salad dressings.
Sandwiches and Wraps
When consumed in moderation, bread products are not necessarily your enemy, and sandwiches and wraps can be very healthy options for lunch. Set aside condiments until you’re ready to eat your lunch so that the ingredients don’t get soggy. Try using whole grain bread, whole wheat wraps, or pita bread to make Thai turkey wraps, Mediterranean veggie wraps, carrot and hummus sandwiches, or another version of your favorite hand-held.
Reheated Hot Dishes
To change up your lunch routine, make an extra portion or two of your dinner meal and bring reheating-friendly leftovers for lunch the next day. This is a great way to feel fuller after lunch and get the protein you need to fuel your day. Chicken and turkey heat up well for this purpose, as well as healthy vegetables like broccoli, green beans, and onions. You can pack a lot of nutrition into delicious bowl meal that’s perfect for lunch and rivals anything you’d pick up at a restaurant nearby.
Instant Pot Soups
If you’ve jumped on the popular Instant Pot bandwagon, there are some great ways to use it to create healthy lunches. With just a bit of prep work the night before, you can create an easy Thai coconut curry soup with tofu or a butternut cauliflower soup to warm you up on a chilly day for lunch. Other great options are a veggie lentil soup, barley vegetable soup, and hearty chilly with turkey and kidney beans.
Fruit, Nut, and Yogurt Parfaits
If you crave something sweet after meals, don’t be so quick to reach for a bag of M&Ms or splurge on a milkshake at lunchtime. Instead, pack a small container of nonfat Greek yogurt with you in the morning and toss some fresh fruit, nuts, and seeds into a plastic bag to mix into it. Good mix-in options include blueberries, pomegranate chunks, dried apricots, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts. These sweet parfaits will satisfy your sweet tooth and make you less likely to indulge in office birthday cake later in the afternoon.
What’s your favorite healthy lunch for busy days? Share your best suggestion with us in the comment section below.