What’s for Lunch? Tips for packing a healthy lunch for work, school or play

This is the time of year when we start to reign in our free-spirited eating habits of summer and hunker down a bit by packing healthy lunches for ourselves, or kids going off to school. Lunch doesn’t have to be a boring sandwich, salad or canned soup. Here are some nutritious and delicious ideas to keep you going throughout your day.

First, you need to get the right gear. Keep your cold foods cold and hot foods hot. No need for microwaves in this healthy plan. Make a big pot of chili, hearty soup or stew to eat throughout the week. While you are throwing together breakfast, heat up some of your stew in a saucepan and put it in a “food thermos.”

There’s nothing like opening up your thermos on a chilly fall day to a hearty, warm meal. For cold foods like yogurt, salad or fruit – use a little freezer gel pack in an insulated lunch cooler. To keep vegetables fresh for longer try Green bags. Join the eco revolution by ditching those plastic sandwich bags for reusable sandwich bags – check out “lunchskins.”

Now what goes inside? First let’s start with a simple rule all moms know: Leftovers are divine. You have already pulled out everything from the fridge and the pots and pans are gonna get dirty – so why not make twice as much dinner as you need and pack the rest for lunch? The main protein (fish, chicken,meat, tempeh) will go great on a salad or between two pieces of grainy bread.

Chop up anything from dinner, throw into a burrito wrap and cover with salsa or favorite dressing. Leftover rice or quinoa can be heated the next day with some milk (or alternative milk) with a little honey and some nuts for a warm rice cereal. Soup or stew is perfect the next day with a hunk of bread for dipping…the possibilities of leftovers are endless.

Dips and spreads can go a long way. Hummus, bean dips, pesto and nut butters are fun to spread and dip. Veggies, Crackers, chips and fruit are great for dipping in most spreads. Get creative, go crazy: try carrots in almond butter or apples dipped in hummus – you may be surprised with the yummy combinations you can make.

Make a hearty salad spread with protein and veggies. Canned salmon works just like tuna and is delicious with chopped veggies (carrots, celery, cucumber, peppers) and a dressing of your choice. Same goes for hard boiled eggs or silken tofu which mixes into a creamy spread. These salads are great on bread or crackers. A fun gluten-free alternative is to fill romaine lettuce leaves and make little lettuce boats.

Lunch is an important meal, so give it the attention it deserves. How can you make it easier on yourself to fill your body with the right fuel? How can we encourage our kids to eat nutritious foods? Start today and challenge yourself to break your own mold. Consider forming a lunch group with friends, coworkers or other parents and alternate providing lunch for the whole group (with a group of 5 people you will only have to prep 1 day of the week!). If you run out of ideas for healthy lunches – ask one of the docs or Maria here at Nature Cures Clinic- we are happy to help get you back on track.

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