That nasty habit has to stop, for the sake of my waistline and my wallet!
So I put together a list of ideas for lunches---nothing fancy or gourmet, but easy things that will help me stay out of over-priced restaurants.
- Sandwiches: Duh! Endless options here, but try to stay away from the processed meats or fatty condiments such as ranch dressing (my fave) and mayo. There are tons of bread choices now, so you can get whole grains or “slims” to reduce some of the carbs. There’s no shame in the classic PBJ, or dice up some of last night’s chicken and mix it with a dollop of creamy Dijon and celery and onion, topped with some spinach. Get creative!!
- Salads: Another duh! There are endless options. I’ll write a future article on just salads and all of the yummy possibilities.
- Leftovers: a lot of my friends don’t like leftovers, but I love them! When I’m cooking dinner I try to remember to make a little extra so I have an easy lunch. Pasta dishes and stir-fries re-heat well, but I also like to bring in leftover meatloaf, lasagna, tacos, and chicken dishes.
- Quiche: I make a big one, then cut it up and wrap it individual servings and freeze for future use. I’ll post the recipe in the next week or two.
- Soups: lots of options here too, but try to avoid the creamy, fat-laden soups. Sometimes I make a large pot of chili with big chunks of veggies, tons of beans, and ground turkey. I freeze it in individual servings so I can just grab one on my way out the door and it is ready to be heated up at lunch time (the glass mugs with a lid work great!) If you insist on using canned soup, read the labels and try to avoid those with a ton of words that you can’t pronounce!
- Cottage cheese and fruit: this is an old classic. If you must use canned fruit, be sure to get the kind packed in water. Go for the 2% cottage cheese. A few whole grain crackers or ½ of an English muffin round out this lunch nicely!
- Hard boiled eggs: sure, you’ll stink up the joint, but they are inexpensive, easy to make, very portable, and they each have 6 grams of protein. I like to add them to salads, or make egg salad (with very little mayo and a whole lot of crunchy celery and onions).
- Baked Potato: Toss some veggies and a bit of cheese on top for a warm, tasty meal!
- Oatmeal: surprisingly filling and perfect on a cold winter day.
- Veggies: I always try to include at least one serving of veggies with my lunches. I get bored with munching on raw veggies every day, but if I have some hummus or Wholly Guacamole to dip into I gobble those carrots and peppers right up! Or you can bring an individual serving of frozen veggies to pop in the microwave.
Extras to throw in: fruit, low-fat yogurt, cheese stick, pretzels, or a small piece of really good dark chocolate.
The key is to pack items that you know you like and will look forward to eating, so you can resist the urge to go out. Aim for a lean protein, at least one serving of veggies and one serving of fruit, a low-fat dairy product, and some whole grains.