Don’t get me wrong, eating out at a nice healthy conscious restaurant is a breath of fresh air, but unless you make a 7 figure income that adds up really fast. Rather than focusing on recipes, I prefer to share a process. Recipes with their sometimes fancy ingredients can be intimidating, but you don’t need any of that to make a healthy lunch every day.
In order to bring a healthy lunch to work or school, you will need a set of re-usable glass containers, like these. You will need airtight containers for your main meal as well as small containers to store salad dressing or other condiments. You will need about two containers for your lunch if you are like me and want to separate your bread and veggies until it is time to eat your sandwich. You can also buy bento box containers with separate sides to store different foods.
Meal prep is all the rage these days and it feels like a burden to start, but once it gets built into your routine, it will become part of what you do and it can change your life forever. My process assumes you work a 9-5 job during the weekdays, but it is totally modifiable to your own lifestyle. The process for meal prepping is like this:
- Purchase vegetables of your choice which could include veggies like lettuce, carrots, beets, tomatoes, etc. Purchase enough vegetables to serve as a few side salads, sandwich toppings, and 1 or 2 meal salads. Purchase whole-grain bread and minimally processed deli meat such as turkey or chicken breast. You may also purchase tuna in a packet and cheese. You can start with this and change your ingredients as you become more comfortable with the routine.
- Spend 2 hours per week, 1 hour at the beginning of the week and 1 hour in the middle of the week, to wash and cut, chop or slice vegetables to your liking. Let’s choose Sunday and Wednesday as our veggie prep days. On Sunday you want to chop enough vegetables for the next 3 days. On Wednesday you will chop enough for the next two days
- Store them separately in an airtight container. Be sure to completely dry your veggies before storing them in the fridge.
- Each night pack your lunch based on what you want to bring the next day. For salads, take your pre-cut veggies and place them in your lunch container. Add deli meat, tuna or leftover protein. If you are making a sandwich, then place the bread in one container, your protein,
andveggies in the other container. Please remember to add your condiments or dressing in small spill-proof containers.
When it’s time to eat you might need to do some minimal prep work such as place your meat and veggies on your bread and spread your condiment, but most of your lunch-time will be spent enjoying your home-made lunch.
What you chose to buy depends heavily on your own taste preference and what is available in your local area. However, just be careful not to overspend. Think ahead before you shop for lunch or you will find yourself overspending. Shop at supermarkets that sell vegetables by the pound so you can buy a very small portion of what you need. You can also choose to buy the smallest lettuce in the bunch.
It is easy to overspend without a proper plan. Also, before you buy, take an inventory of the items you already have at home. This process is easily modifiable. You can use wraps instead of bread or you can replace
Healthy Lunch Ideas
With the approach listed above, here are some healthy lunch ideas you can use with this process
- Chicken salad sandwich with lettuce and tomato
- Tuna sandwich with lettuce and tomato
- Wrap with sliced turkey, avocados, lettuce, and tomatoes
- Roast beef sandwich with mayo, tomatoes, lettuce, and onions
- BLT sandwich with a side salad
- Egg Salad Sandwich
- Rice bowl with beans, feta cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and protein of your choice. You can vary this by swapping grains. For
instance, insteadof rice, you can use quinoa.
Don’t spend an eternity researching healthy lunch ideas before you get started. It is tempting to make a long term plan before you start, but that brings a high risk of getting discouraged. Once you start it’s a lot easier to keep going. Let the momentum of the first week motivate you for the next week and so forth. If you have a particularly busy week, it is ok to buy yourself lunch. Just remember to pick up where you left off. Best of luck coming up with your healthy lunch ideas.