What’s for Lunch? Planning and Prepping the Basics

Stir fry for lunch

Whether you work from home or in an office, lunch can be a challenge. Finding time mid-day for a nutrition-packed lunch isn’t easy. Remember, lunch is a time to refuel for the second part of the day. Packing food with a lot of nutrition can make your afternoon more successful! Instead of being pulled to the nearest fast food restaurant, look for new options to add to your day.

Lunch Basics

First, start with these basic tips to eat more power-packed lunches.

Make Your Lunch Balanced

Your lunch should include protein, fruit, vegetables, dairy and whole grains. Adding all the food groups can give you maximum nutrition. Ham and cheese on a whole wheat tortilla with yogurt, apple slices and carrot sticks can be a great meal. It provides protein, complex carbohydrates and fiber. You could also consider a peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole wheat bread with green peppers and low-fat dip, string cheese and strawberries.

Plan Ahead

There is nothing worse than not having a plan for lunch and resorting to a greasy burger with fries. Spend some prep time to get settled for the week by chopping and bagging vegetables, slicing fruit in containers, and portioning out whole grain crackers. If you prep on Sunday, you can grab and go all week. You could also consider packing the entire lunch the night before.

Cook a Little Extra

Having grilled chicken on Sunday night? Grill a couple extra chicken breasts to chop up for a salad or put inside a whole grain tortilla. Think of this often. Last night’s dinner can be tomorrow’s lunch! An extra serving of chili or leftover pasta are other great options.

Ideas to Get Started with

Main Dish:

What’s the center point of your meal? A great main dish.

Find a thermos. This is a great way to use your leftovers!

  • Chicken, pork or steak with a side of barbecue sauce
  • Soups and chili
  • Last night’s dinner – spaghetti, stir fry or casserole

Sandwich or Wrap:

  • Whole grain bread with lunch meat
  • Whole grain tortilla with peanut butter and banana (or any fruit—try strawberry!)
  • Cheese quesadilla

Salads to Go:

  • Lettuce, veggies and protein (use last night’s protein)
  • Cold pasta salad with grilled chicken
  • Tuna or chicken salad

Add Sensible Sides:

  • Edamame
  • Baked chips
  • Peppers and hummus
  • Low-fat yogurt
  • Blueberries
  • Whole grain crackers
  • Pasta salad
  • Dried fruit
  • Berries and fruit dip
  • Cheese cubes
  • Veggies and dip
  • Avocado slices
  • Cottage cheese
  • Last night’s vegetables

What about Lunch Out?

On a busy day, takeout can be an option. You can still make your health a priority while grabbing takeout or eating out. Check out the menu for nutrition-packed proteins and sides. Choose salads and grilled meat and opt for smaller portions. Many restaurants are adding more and more healthy options as time goes on, so making healthy choices keeps getting easier.

Take it one step at a time on your way to a healthy lunch! Every bite counts.

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