Meal times are always fun: it’s an opportunity to eat, put aside everything I am doing and
pipe down my hunger cries recharge my batteries. While I do usually look forward to all 3 meals, I’ll admit that my least favorite is undoubtedly lunchtime, at least Monday to Saturday when packed lunches are involved.
Speaking of packed lunches, mine weren’t always worth
writing home blogging about. Whereas the ideal student’s lunch would contain a peanut butter & jelly sandwich with a side of apple slices & carrot sticks, mine was slightly different: an assortment of Oreos, Pringles, Nutri-Grain bars, Lunchables, Cheese Strings, Chips Ahoy and various other crap 😳 . Fortunately my lunch staples have now evolved over the years. Although I don’t carry it in a pretty Lisa Frank lunch bag anymore, my packed lunches are cost-effective, keep me energetic throughout the afternoon, and most importantly, make it easy to eat healthy during the work day. While it can be difficult to initially get into the habit, here are some ways to make it part of your daily routine:
- Invest in the “right” tools: If your office/campus doesn’t offer microwave or refrigerator facilities, invest in an ice pack and some type of container that keeps your meals insulated. Otherwise, the variety which you can include in your packed lunch will be limited to certain temperatures.
- Pack foods that you actually want to eat: When I first moved to Mumbai, my cousin (what up KK 8) ) used to tell me that I’d be bringing in daal & rice or rajma & chapatti to work. While it would be so easy to pack up whatever is already made at home for the rest of my family, I really do not enjoy these kinds of foods and would rather take the extra 15 minutes the night before to sort out my own grub.
- Don’t be afraid to pack a treat: Lunch ain’t over without a lil somethin’ somethin’ sweet. A square of Lindt 70%, some fruit with chocolate chips, or a handful of granola are amongst a few treats which I’ll pack daily. These little ‘treats’ feel like an indulgence and curb my 3 PM sweet tooth from kicking in. Aim for portion control, not deprivation.
- Use your leftovers
If I’m cooking veggies the night before, I’ll double the amount and turn it into a cold salad for lunch. Even better if you are able to heat up leftovers at work: nothing beats a hot, home-cooked meal in the middle of the afternoon.
- Don’t forget protein & healthy fats
As much as I want to headbutt Dr. Atkins, he was on to something: the tag team of proteins & fats increase satiety. Try to balance out your lunch with some lean protein and healthy fats. My recent go-to protein sources include chicken, boiled egg whites (hard yolks=nasty :shock:), chickpeas, cottage cheese, or veggie sausages. Healthy fats are also a must: cheese & nuts in my salad, peanut butter with an apple, or mashed avocado in my sandwich.
- Get Those Veggies In
Lunch is an easy opportunity to get those antioxidants in. As well as keep things regular, all that fiber keeps me fuller and more satisfied. If I can’t be bothered to make a salad or grill some veggies, I spend all of 2 minutes to chop up a carrot and cucumber and I’m good to go. On days where the thought of raw vegetables is kinda meh, I’ll add in a small container of salsa, hummus, or Greek yogurt.
- Don’t get stuck in a rut
When you have a few minutes, sit down and list at least 8-10 packed lunches which are delicious and can be prepared quickly. Doing so will save you time during the week and the variety will keep you committed to your healthy lunch. Playing lucky dip is also pretty fun ;)!
Did these tips help? If so, I’ll start posting my lunches once a week to give you guys ideas.