11 Quick & Healthy Lunch Ideas
It’s that time of year again: New Year’s resolution time. If you’re like most well-intentioned folks, healthy eating is probably at the top of your list. And while it’s true that breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, packing a healthy lunch is vital to keeping blood sugars stable and energy levels up…plus it’s one of the most effective ways to kick afternoon cravings for junk food to the curb.
But lunch offers a few challenges. It’s easy to get into a rut and even easier to cheat if you’re crunched for time. Here are a few simple ideas you can pack away for a healthy day. The best part? They all fit in the convenient SNAPWARE® 3.01-CUP TOTAL SOLUTION™ RECTANGLE PLASTIC FOOD STORAGE CONTAINER WITH LID.
From quick-cut veggies to easy-pack protein options, these lunch ideas will have you eating healthy in less time than it takes you to microwave one of those so-called-healthy, sodium-sacked frozen meals.
MUNCH A MAIN-COURSE SALAD
Ensure you get your eight servings of fruits and vegetables a day with a lunchtime salad that’s sure to satiate. These salads brim with interesting flavors and textures and include plenty of protein, good fats and fresh produce. A few ideas…
- Fiesta Salad. Toss shredded romaine lettuce (skip the iceberg variety, as it has little to no nutritional value) with a light honey-lime vinaigrette. Top with chopped grilled chicken, black beans, roasted sweet corn, chopped avocado, grape tomatoes and sliced red onion. Crumble a little bit of queso fresco on top for an added punch of protein.
- Harvest Salad. Top fresh baby spinach with diced green apple, dried cranberries, chopped red bell pepper and thinly sliced chicken breast. Drizzle with yogurt dressing and throw a few heart-healthy almonds or pecans on top.
- Asian Salad. Make a bed of shredded romaine lettuce, carrots and red cabbage. Top with a scoop of Asian chicken salad (use your favorite chicken salad recipe but add wasabi paste for kick). Scatter on chopped green onions, snow peas and toasted sesame seeds. Drizzle with an Asian vinaigrette, if desired.
Ditch the deli meat, as we continue to learn about the cancer-causing properties of processed meats. Give these slimmed-down, health-conscious versions a try instead!
- The Caprese. Stack a whole wheat 6-inch baguette with slices of Buffalo mozzarella and fresh tomato and chopped fresh basil. Drizzle with a quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper.
- The Med. Pack whole wheat pocket bread with hummus, sliced cucumber, roasted red pepper slices, grilled eggplant and arugula.
- The Out West. In a low-carb, high-fiber tortilla, wrap sliced roasted beef tenderloin and portabella mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, goat cheese and arugula.
EASY SIDES AND SNACKS
Use these ideas to round out hearty soups and sandwiches, or save for later when those nagging hunger pangs strike. Many are high in protein, which keeps you feeling fuller longer.
- Bean Salads and Spreads. High in fiber, beans are a weight-buster’s best friend. Toss a bevy of beans with a light vinaigrette. Add some diced veggies and chopped herbs and, voilà, lunch is served!
- Hummus and Dippers. Buy one of the many store-brought brands available or, better yet, make your own. Serve with carrot, celery and red pepper sticks, or multigrain pita chips.
- Tree Nuts. Nutritional benefits abound in nuts like almonds, walnuts and pecans. Eat them as is (keep the portion size small) or mix them with granola and dried fruit for a tasty trail mix.
- Olives. Packed with nutrients, olives are one of those “good fats.” Pack a mix of Greek-style, Spanish-style or black (just be sure to drain and rinse them to remove the excess sodium). Also, olive tapenade makes a great alternative to creamy dips and sandwich spreads. Simply put pitted olives in a food processor with olive oil, fresh garlic and your favorite herbs.
- A Few Other Ideas. Greek yogurt, hard-cooked eggs, poached shrimp, fresh fruit kabobs, low-fat string cheese, popcorn and roasted chickpeas.
- LEFTOVER LUNCH. When making dinner, make a little extra for leftovers. Leftover meat, cooked veggies or healthy grains are easy options to toss into tomorrow’s lunch.
- SUNDAY FUNDAY. Plan and prep your lunches for the week on Sunday. Cut veggies and store them in grab-and-go containers, roast or grill meat for sandwiches and make healthy dips.
- STORAGE MADE SIMPLE. Ban the baggies and pack snacks and smaller items in the SNAPWARE® AIRTIGHT RECTANGULAR STORAGE 6-PC SET. You’ll never run out of storage containers, because you can use this sturdy set again and again!