Written By: Emma Squillace
Even if you have a healthy breakfast, and a good dinner, what happens at lunch time could sabotage your weight loss efforts. Many of us are away from the home for lunch, and find ourselves at the mercy of whatever food is close by. This often leads to a fast food lunch, or a meal from a near by restaurant. We run into several problems with this scenario. First, we’re not controlling what goes into our meal, second the portion sizes tend to be way too big, and third, it costs more than eating at home. Instead, commit to a few weeks of bringing your lunch to work to see what a difference it makes. Here are some ideas for quick and healthy lunches you can pack to take to work.
Turn left-overs into salad
There are lots of dinners that can be made into a good salad for the next day. If you’re bored with a base of lettuce, try a variety like cabbage, kale, or shaved brussels sprouts. Start with your salad base and pick a theme. Particularly good salads can be made from left over taco ingredients, stir fries, BBQ night, or steak. When you cook your dinner, try to make a little extra so you know you’ll have some to add to salad the next day. If you’re light on protein, add a handful of nuts of chickpeas. Pack the dressing in a separate container so you can mix it right before you eat.
Making a pot of soup can last you and your family several days. One way to make a hearty and healthy soup is to roast some vegetables like cauliflower, carrots and onions. Then boil the vegetables in some veggie or chicken stock, and add several cans of cannellini beans. Season with garlic, pepper, hot sauce, sherry, or whatever you like best. After boiling for 20 minutes and slightly cooling, use a blender or immersion blender to puree the soup. The blended beans will give you a creamy soup texture that is very satisfying, but without the added fat or calories of real cream. This is a nice meal for families looking for vegetarian or vegan options also. Bring a few crackers or a piece of whole grain toast to enjoy with your soup.
Bean and veggie salad
We know that a salad made with lettuce isn’t going to be very good a few days later – but some ingredients, like beans and carrots, really hold up to dressing for days. Made a big container of salad at the beginning of the week, and you’ll get multiple low cost, filling, tasty meals. Pick a few different kinds of canned beans, and use a combo of vegetables that you like. Chopped celery, carrots, bell pepper, jicama, red onion and beets all last well for days after being prepped. Mix the ingredients with any type of vinaigrette and you’re set for lunches. Each day, pack a bowl of the salad. Another bonus to this meal is it travels well. A mayo-based salad dressing needs to stay refrigerated at all times, but a vinaigrette give you more flexibility in travel time.
Are you a fan of the traditional deli sandwiches for lunch, like a BLT or turkey club? You can make your own version at home, and pack it for lunch so you’ve got a healthier work-day option. To start, use a tortilla instead of a roll. This can cut your calories substantially. Then skip the mayo and use a greek-yogurt based ranch dressing to give the same creamy condiment but fewer calories. Pack the wrap with lettuce, tomato, or whatever vegetables you have on hand. Then add your protein. If you’re craving a BLT, you can make it work with portion control. Add some chicken breast to give you more lean protein, and you should be fine with just a few slices of bacon too. You’ll get satisfying flavor and more nutrition than what you’d buy at a lunch counter.
You may think that pasta is totally off the list of healthy lunches to bring to work, but there is a way to have some pasta and maintain your weight loss path. The key, if you want a pasta lunch, is to pack a bowl that is ¼ pasta. Make another ¼ of the bowl filled with lean protein, and the remaining ½ filled with veggies. Topped with a spicy red sauce, this can keep you satisfied until dinner, and not break the bank on calories. With only 1/4th of the bowl filled with pasta, you won’t get too many carbs, and you’ll still be able to have pasta in every bite. Also look for pasta with extra fiber. That, combined with all the vegetables, will keep you full for even longer.
Don’t let a packed schedule push you to eating unhealthy work lunches. If you can stay on track with your weight loss efforts at lunchtime by bringing your own food, you’ll be that much closer to your goal weight. As a bonus, bringing lunch should save you money every day – as well as time. You may be able to fit in a quick 15 minute walk on your lunch break also. If you are working on losing weight, but frustrated with your results, give us a call. We can tell you about our latest weight loss options. Our team is available at (855) 690-0565.