Who doesn’t look forward to lunch?! It’s a rare time in the day we take for ourselves, away from our work and responsibilities. We not only want to enjoy it, we also hope it gives us the energy we need to tackle the rest of our day. In short, we want a tasty, energy-boosting meal. So why do we typically procrastinate in deciding what we’re having for lunch until, well, almost lunchtime?! No more!
The trick to having the best lunch (one that satisfies and keeps us keen for the rest of the day) is to be smart, plan ahead and get creative!
Here are some new, easy-to-follow rules to help make your mid-day meal a nutritious winner.
- Make your lunch the night before. In the morning, you tend to be rushed. Whether you hit the snooze button one too many times, take a few extra minutes in the shower or can’t decide what to wear, time always seems to escape. By making lunch the night before, all you will have to do is grab it and go. (Just don’t rush out and forget it!)
- Be prepared. If you’re going to be a night-before chef, get everything you need in the super market before your work week begins. A little planning can go a long way. Decide what you want to have and purchase what you will need. It never hurts to keep a few staples in the house just in case. Whole wheat bread, peanut butter, mustard, light mayo and even pasta are good to keep around.
- Think outside the brown bag! While sandwiches are quick and delicious (and they can be healthy!) there are so many other easy, light choices. Try using left-over pasta for a cold pasta salad with grilled chicken, veggies and light dressing (just use one cup of cooked pasta). Another nutritious winner: A yogurt parfait. Start with one fat-free Greek yogurt (plain or flavored), add one cup of fresh (or frozen) fruit of your choice, one serving of nuts and one serving of your favorite whole grain cereal (if you use plain yogurt, add 2 teaspoons of honey for sweetness). Layer these tasty ingredients together and enjoy!
- Crave variety. By choosing different foods from each food group, you can maximize your nutrient intake. So, if salads are a constant in your diet, try incorporating different vegetables, fruits and proteins. Reinvent your favorites to keep them fresh and different.
- Don’t fall into the convenience pitfalls. Despite the trend towards offering lighter options, most drive-thrus and fast-food establishments can be a diet disaster. If you must go that route, be smart when you place your order and be careful of additives (such as dressing and condiments).
Lunch is important, just like any other meal during the day. Don’t skip it! We all get busy and sometimes we even have to work through our lunch break. But by making the effort to eat something healthy, you are giving yourself a boost by providing the vital nutrients your body needs to support your daily challenges.
Until next time,