Reader’s Request: Easy Lunch Ideas

by Holly on February 7, 2012

in healthy tips,lunch,reader's request

Can we please all agree that lunch is the hardest meal of the day to plan?

You know it is…I know it is! That’s why I am giving ideas for packing quick, easy and delicious lunches in this post, but tomorrow I am still going to walk to the nearest food cart and fork over $10 for lunch. Because after I inevitably sleep through my alarm, packing a well-balanced lunch and nutritious snacks will be the last of my priorities in the morning.

Clean clothes. Deodorant. Breakfast. Reading These are my AM staples.

But as I’ve discovered in life, the key to anything is this: PREPARATION.

With just a wee bit of preparation and hefty pinch of good grocery shopping skills, it’s quite easy to pack brown bag lunches that you’ll actually want to eat come lunch time.

(1) Whatever you do, make soup your friend. Give it a hug…a firm handshake…and mind your manners by telling it please and thank you, because soup is going to be your lunchtime BFF.

Canned soup (Amy’s and Health Valley are favorites) is great…but even greater? Homemade soup. Spend Sunday night making a big pot of Sweet Potato Corn Chowder or Spicy African Peanut Stew or Babaganoush Soup and pour into tupperware containers for the week. In the morning, all you have to do is grab n’ go…but just make sure to put underwear on first, mmmkay?

(2) The worst feeling is getting to work…working…impatiently counting the minutes until lunch…and realizing that when lunchtime arrives, you don’t want the salad you packed because a beer + cheeseburger sounds soooo much better. Have no fear, for you are just not eating the right salad.

Lunch salads need to be messy, filled with fun add-ins and exciting! Try this Spicy Buffalo Tempeh Salad or this Hearty Tofu & Quinoa Tabbouleh or this Wild Rice Chicken Salad. Throw in a large tupperware container, add salad dressing, give it a good shake and pair with a hunk of crusty baguette or bag of pretzels. Because my motto has been and always will be, pair it with a carb.

(3) There’s no shame in frozen meals. Not on this blog. I’m busy. I get lazy. I’m tired. I sometimes eat frozen meals. Although, let me be clear, there’s no Hungry Jack’s or Marie Callender’s in this Everythingtarian’s freezer. I prefer organic, minimally-processed frozen meals with less than 400 calories, 800 mg of sodium and 5 g saturated fat.

Of course, frozen meals are never filling on their own, so I may I suggest pairing them with some veggies, a granola bar and piece of fruit? Otherwise you’ll be hungry in two hours…guaranteed.

(4) Throw stuff in a tupperware container and hope for the best. No really, do it! That’s how I came up with my 5-Minute Tuna Salad (which I seriously need to make again…sooo good).

Start with a grain, such as quinoa, brown rice or pasta. Throw in veggies…and lots of them! Add a protein like chickpeas, chicken, tofu or tuna. Drizzle with dressing – anything from homemade Maple-Mustard Vinaigrette to store-bought vinaigrettes to hummacue sauce (2 T hummus mixed with 1 T BBQ sauce) to Green Goddess Dressing. Top with avocado. Always avocado.

That’s it. You’re done. Eat!

(5) Supplemental lunch items are just as important as lunch itself. If you work at a desk, I highly recommend devoting one of your drawers to hoarding food items to grab when hunger strikes.

  • apples + peanut butter
  • SunChips (Garden Salsa + Harvest Cheddar are the best)
  • rice crackers topped with nut butter + cinnamon
  • carrots + hummus
  • trail mix (try golden raisins, walnuts + dark chocolate chips)
  • kombucha
  • pickles wrapped in ham + slices of cheese
  • string cheese
  • cottage cheese + ranch seasoning
  • Wasa crackers topped with cream cheese + heirloom tomatoes
  • cucumbers (the best for munching!)
  • peanut M+Ms
  • Luna, Larabars, KIND + Clif Mojo Bars

So, I just have to ask…what are YOU having for lunch? Sharing is caring, let’s not forget!