It can be hard to find the time in the morning to prepare a lunch that’s not only tasty but also healthy. When I am preparing a lunch at home, I look for foods that will keep me full, energized and satisfied to get me through the day- and of course, that are nutritious. Here are some ideas to make the most of your precious time and maximize the nutrition.
What are some easy make-ahead lunches to take to work or healthy lunches I can pick up when I have a quick break? (Susie, San Diego CA)
Thanks for your question Susie. It can be hard to find the time in the morning to prepare a lunch that’s not only tasty but also healthy. When I am preparing a lunch at home, I look for foods that will keep me full, energized and satisfied to get me through the day- and of course, that are nutritious. Here are some ideas to make the most of your precious time and maximize the nutrition:
Throw together leftovers
. I call this my “what’s in the fridge lunch.” I like to keep some fresh spinach or greens on hand all week along with some cooked whole grains, such as brown rice or quinoa. Try adding some spinach and grains to a container you can take with you on the go, and top with leftovers, such as steamed or sautéed veggies and grilled or baked chicken.
Use leftovers for a sandwich or wrap.
Throw on some avocado for a little healthy fat and add whatever you may have had for dinner. Healthy Dining has a list of lunches using leftovers that are great for kids
Stock the fridge at work, not just home.
Try keeping some snacks at work, such as yogurt, string cheese and non-perishable fruit. These can help curb your appetite when you only have a few minutes for a quick break.
When purchasing lunch, think about what it includes:
Do you have some whole grains (ideas include whole wheat bread or brown rice), fruit or veggies (such as salad, lettuce, tomatoes, shredded carrots, etc., for your sandwich or a burrito) and lean protein (such as turkey, chicken, or fish). Ideas include:
- A premade sandwich or wrap on whole wheat bread with lean protein and veggies
- A do it yourself salad from a salad bar: just steer clear of the high calories items like creamy dressing, croutons, cheeses, and dried fruits
Bigger is not always better: lunch portion sizes may be deceiving. If a portion contains more than 500- 750 calories, either box up half your lunch (now you have a dinner ready to go) or look elsewhere!
For a quick and healthy lunch, check out HealthyDiningFinder.com on your phone or other mobile device. You’ll be able to find dietitian picks near you like these:
California Veggie Sandwich at Boudin SF
(560 calories, 23 g fat)
Located in CA
Za'tar at Manakeesh Cafe
(600 calories, 20 g fat)
Located in Philadelphia, PA
Shrimp Shish Kebab Plate at The Kebab Shop
(550 calories, 21 g fat)
Located in San Diego, CA
Steakhouse Salad at Outback
(480 calories, 24 g fat, 320 mg sodium)