Let's talk lunch, which is by far the least exciting meal of the day (at least in my opinion)...until now. In the past, when I thought of lunch, I thought of cold meals that are typically unsatisfying and leave me craving something sweet. I think cheese and crackers and sad granola bars. This year, however, I had a epiphany- who says I have to eat typical lunch foods for lunch? Maybe some of you are thinking, duh Mel, but seriously. I've been under the unfortunate notion that I had to eat rice cakes, carrots, and hummus everyday for lunch (which don't get me wrong, I do enjoy from time to time). I am so happy that I am now liberated from my narrow minded perspective of lunch and here to tell you that packing or making a delicious, satisfying lunch is key to your health and wellness journey. Here's why: A good lunch...
helps curb sugar/sweet cravings
Once I started caring about my lunches more, I noticed a huge difference in my cravings sweets throughout the day. By packing a meal that is physically and emotionally satisfying, your body doesn't feel like it needs something else (usually for me that something else is chocolate). Also, by making sure to included lean protein, healthy fat, and fiber-rich carbs, you'll be fuller for longer (more on that below).
gives you something to look forward to throughout your day
Food gets you through the day, quite literally. Food is fuel for the body and mind so why not make it something exciting and worth eating? Now-a-days, I'm counting down the minutes until lunch time.
brings better balance to your everyday diet
If you don't take lunch seriously you may be consuming more packaged, refined foods such as granola bars, crackers, etc. because they're quick and easy to grab. By putting a little more effort into your mid-day meal, you'll most likely be including more fresh fruit and veggies which are essential for a wholesome, balanced diet.
So now that we've established why lunches are so important, here are a few tips to packing a satisfying on-the-go lunch so that your mid-day meal is healthy and delicious wherever you are.
pack it ahead of time
It's good to be prepared so you aren't just grabbing whatever you have as you run out the door. If I don't meal prep lunches on Sunday for the week, I at least get my lunch ready the night before!
never underestimate the power of left-overs
For the longest time, I have been a self-proclaimed "non-leftover person". But leftovers make the BEST packed lunches! I love making soup or curry one evening for dinner and then using the rest for lunches throughout the remainder of the week. Roasted veggies are also good (even cold) for making a delicious and hearty salad!
mix & match
I like to have food at hand that can easily go with a variety of other things so that I'm not eating the same thing everyday. For example, I will have rice or quinoa that I cooked up earlier in the week, hard boiled eggs, tofu, tuna, avocado, a variety of roasted veggies, and kale or spinach. From these options I will usually choose a few things for my lunch each day to keep things interesting.
make it complete
This may be the most important piece of advice I can give you! Make sure in every lunch that you pack a protein, healthy fat, and whole grain. For example one of my favorite combo's is brown rice with left over roasted butternut squash, wilted kale & sautéed onions, avocado, and a hard boiled egg. I always bring a piece a fruit to finish off my meal with something sweet.
And there you have it! Comment below to share your thoughts or your favorite packed lunch! xoxo