Thursday, March 4, 2010

I've Got Tricks Up My Sleeve for Packing a Healthy Lunch

I learned early on when Aaron and I first lived together that he would not be the one to pack his lunch in the morning. He'd rather sleep in longer, rather than packing a lunch. Then it's a snowball effect. He'd eat lunch out and it was usually fast food. He didn't like it. Not a good scenario for healthy living! So, I started to pack lunches for both of us to take to work. I prefer to eat my own food to control my nutrition, except for those occasions when we have a lunch at work. A girl has to be social, you know! If you don't have an "enabler-partner" like me making your lunch because you want to sleep, then you can make your lunch the night before. To be honest, I don't mind making lunches because it makes me feel good knowing that both of us are going to work with healthy meals that are good for our bodies. Don't forget, packing your own lunch saves you tons of money, check out my post!

I'm on the Wellness Committee at my company and a couple of months ago, I had an idea for an employee program that I'm excited is moving forward! We're going to give away lunch bags with our company's logo to promote the concept of employees packing their own healthy lunches. Since I'm leaving for maternity leave any day now, I wanted to leave the group with my idea of the insert for the tips to packing healthy lunches. It made me realize that I need to share some of my tricks up my sleeve for packing healthy lunches!

Healthy Lunch Ideas:
  • Planned Leftovers: In the picture above you can see that I have a complete meal ready to go for work lunches. The one in the picture is an Enchilada Casserole that I made enough servings to have for dinner and lunches during the week. Planning ahead and storing the complete meal in a packable container makes it easy to pack a lunch quickly.
  • Fresh Fruit on Hand: Our lunches always include a serving of fresh fruit. I cut up apples, pineapple, grapefruit, mangos, or throw in a whole orange for example. We use a produce delivery service so we always have a variety of seasonal fruit on hand.
  • Green Salads with Leftover Chicken or Beans: For salads, I always have some sort of protein such as canned beans, leftover chicken, or fish. Salads are great for lunch because eating lots of bread from sandwiches usually makes me more tired in the afternoon. I like to make my own salad dressings. Check out this recipe for fresh Poppy Seed Dressing from my friend, Catherine.
  • Always Keep an Emergency Frozen Entree Available: There are mornings when you've been out late or wake up late. I buy my frozen entrees from Trader Joe's because they have healthier alternatives. Our favorites are low-fat Chile Relleno and Aaron likes the chicken pot pie.
  • Easy Sides - Cottage Cheese, Yogurt, and String Cheese: I buy yogurt and cottage cheese by the large container tubs so I can easily throw some in a small container to take for lunches or snacks. This way you get a quick calcium/protein-rich side dish in your lunch. Throw a couple whole wheat crackers and you're done!
  • Mix it Up! Aaron and I both don't like to eat the SAME boring thing every day. I try to mix up our foods to get some leftovers, some salads, etc and the benefit is a variety of nutrition. Making your lunch interesting will help avoiding feeling "deprived" when you see your coworkers with their take-out lunches.
In the morning, I run a little assembly line and pack our lunch at the same time. I pack my breakfast for work so I plan for about 15-20 minutes in the morning to this entire process.

What are your favorite lunches? Share them in the comments.

1 comment:

  1. This post is awesome! Thanks, Amanda! Mel will really appreciate this post because my lunch options have gotten pretty stale.