What do your lunches look like? Are they an after-thought? Are they grab & go eat at your desk kind of lunches? Are they eaten out because you just don’t have time to throw something together in the morning? Maybe they’re skipped entirely and substituted with snacks during the day. OR maybe you’re lucky enough to work at home and make your lunches (in an actual kitchen) but are getting bored with the same old go-to’s. Well, lunch doesn’t have to be boring or an after-thought! Personally I like to meal plan my lunches just as I do my dinners. That way I can prep ahead, cook when I have the time, and ultimately have interesting and yummy lunches at the ready. One strategy I like to do on the weekends, and more so now that I’m working from home, is to make Dinner for Lunch. You’ve likely heard the old proverb to eat:
“breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper”
According to recent research there seems to be some documented health benefits to eating this way. By timing your meals according to your circadian rhythm you gain the benefits of better blood sugar management, improved metabolism, & easier weight management. And if you spend the energy & time to make dinner for lunch, then why not keep things simple, and save leftovers for dinner. Win-win!! However if you’re like most people, this strategy may not be in the cards most work-days. So when you don’t have the luxury of time mid-day and you need to have lunch on the go here are some ideas to keep it more interesting than the basic sandwich & chips.
Breakfast For Lunch
Since breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, we often end up doing breakfast for lunch. Especially on the mornings we practice intermittent fasting. Although I’m trying to mix up my fasting routine by skipping dinner rather than breakfast, there are definitely still some mornings that end up just being fluids. Check out my post What’s For Breakfast for lots of creative, interesting breakfast ideas you can try in the morning or at lunch.
Sandwiches still often end up being the easy go-to. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But you don’t have to stick to the boring old stand-bys when there’s so many fun and interesting ways you can make a sandwich. First, you need the basic template:
Outer Ends: whole-grain, sprouted-grain, or even flour-less breads or tortillas OR plant-ends (lettuce wraps, cucumber rolls, apple rounds, etc)
Protein: turkey, chicken, egg, tuna, salmon, hummus, nut butter, etc.
Fat: avocado, cheese, pesto, aioli, dressing, etc
Veggies: anything you love goes here
Lately, this one has been a weekly staple in my house. And in my opinion, combines the best of breakfast with lunch. A runny golden yolk layered on top of a slice of whole-grain toast with butter, avocado, & spinach. Served with salad…..yum!!
This is another one of my favorites. Admittedly it does take a bit of time to chop and prep all the veggies but you can easily make it in batches and have enough for all week. They’re also easy to transport in mason jars or lidded containers. Check out my post all about Nourish Bowls to help you put together your perfect bowl!
Fun Pasta Dishes
When the girls are home for lunch, pasta is often on the menu. But again, that doesn’t mean it has to be boring plain pasta. Here are 3 favorites we like to rotate through in our house.
Gnocchi with Pesto & salad — I love gnocchi….we call them little potato pillows in my house. They cook so fast and topped with a drizzle of olive oil & pesto…..so yummy! Always paired with some salad.
Spaghetti with Tomato Meat Sauce & salad — Using whole-grain or paleo-friendly noodles topped with a simple sauce of ground grass-fed beef, tomato, garlic, and herbs de provence. Always a crowd pleaser.
Summer Pasta & salad — Combine cherry tomatoes (cut in half) with feta, garlic, basil, baby spinach, & whole-grain or paleo-friendly noodles, all tossed together with olive oil.
Smoothies are always an easy go-to, especially when you need to make it ahead of time and bring it with you. By adding a good amount of protein & healthy fat to your smoothie you’ll be sure to feel satiated for several hours. See all the options for putting together a perfect smoothie HERE plus my favorite anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer combination.
Roast Chicken with Mashed Sweet Potato & Kale Salad
Here is another yummy and easy option where you can make a batch of all 3 on the weekend and then have enough for the work-week. This was definitely a typical go-to for me when I was commuting into the clinic each week. Either make your own or buy a roasted chicken. Bake enough sweet potatoes to get you through the week plus a large batch of kale salad. Each morning portion out a bit of all 3 and enjoy when it’s time for lunch.
Avocado Tuna Boats
This is a lunch-time treat I turn to when I’m following a grain-free or low carb eating plan. You can find the recipe HERE. Paired with a salad you can make it a meal.
This is still a quick and easy option, as long as you’re making large enough portions at dinner. And when you’re trying to follow a low-carb or elimination diet it can often be the safest and easiest option.
Just as you get bored with the same-old options, so do your kids. And if you’re noticing more and more lunches coming home uneaten, it’s probably time to start mixing it up. Check out my post on Tackling School Lunch for creative and yummy ideas to get your kids involved and to help elevate their school lunch.
Take Home Message
It’s time to take your lunches to the next level. This doesn’t have to be hard or extra time consuming but it does require a bit of planning ahead. Start making a list of your favorite lunches and pulling them into your weekly meal plan. Rotate through different ones and commit to trying something new at least once a month. Before you know it, you’ll have a long list of yummy options. For more healthy eating tips and recipe ideas, Join The Tribe. Every week you’ll receive nourishment & inspiration delivered straight to your Inbox.