I did a quick search on the Internet to find simple healthy lunch ideas. The options and menus that had multiple ingredients which appeared to be beyond my ability to recreate very quickly overwhelmed me. I was tempted to fall back to recommending that childhood school lunch of packing a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and call it good. However I think we can do better by using what you already know to make your own lunch choices.
So what are your best options for healthy lunches that keep things simple?
Start with why you need to eat healthy. Food is good fuel. Healthy fuel gives you energy for the whole day. Put junk fuel into you body and your energy level will suffer. Fresh fruit and vegetables are the original fast food.
Healthy eating is not a complicated task. What makes it easy is creating a system that fits your schedule, needs and food tastes while keeping that system simple and easy to do.
Make a list of all the food that you like and that can be easily stored on a shelf or in the freezer.
These are your staples – things you can stock up on ahead of time and grab as back up. My staples are soup, tuna, nuts, dried fruit, peanut butter, almond butter, left over meals
Make your fresh food list – things you need to buy on a regular or weekly basis that give you choices for lunch – mine includes all things for salad and snacks at work. I keep yogurt, apples, cheese, raw vegetables, humus, wraps, eggs, roasted turkey, spinach, any other lettuce that looks good on my weekly list.
Pick one or two lunch options that you can make the night ahead and are likely to have the ingredients on hand. Experiment until you have a lunch that gives you some protein, fruit, vegetables, light on the carbohydrates and you can eat easily at work.
Sandwiches still work just fine – you may use wraps or lettuce instead of bread. I sometimes just roll up roasted turkey with cheese and make that a finger food. My standard working lunch is a salad – with multiple chopped raw vegetables. I find that chopping enough for two days, in one session the night before, saves me time in the morning. I add protein to my salad using hard boiled eggs, roasted turkey, leftover chicken or raw nuts. I keep a protein bar, some raw nuts and an apple on hand for days when I need something to snack.
The final simple step
You need to pack your lunch so it is easily accessible to you any time during the day. How often have you skipped lunch because it was too much trouble to leave your desk and go to the break room? Find an insulated lunch bag and add a small freezer pack – that way your food can stay on your desk all day – ready anytime you need to grab and fuel up.
I confess to eating the same lunch every day I work away from home. Is this boring? No. This gives me a routine that simplifies my life. I never forget my grocery list or a key ingredient in the special recipe of the week. When everything else in my life is hectic, I need a few things that are easy to do. When you want variety, start snooping in your friend’s lunch boxes. Ask other busy people what they pack and like for easy prepare ahead food. Use leftovers as a change up for lunch when you are prepared to go heat them up. A little bit of planning ahead is the key to getting a lunch that keeps your life simple. Your professional challenges of the day require fuel for the whole day.
Need more recipes?
Check out this free website that I use for my coaching clients:
Be healthy out there,