Healthy lunches ideas to pack or work that are easy and quick to prepare is what you will find in this post. We are all looking for ways to make healthier choices but find that eating healthy is time consuming and uses ingredients that a lot of us do not have on hand.
In a workplace or in your school or college, you are bound to find yourself facing the same old boring lunch options. Usually, packed lunch options are considered to be healthier and tastier when compared to those that you can purchase in the cafeteria. The best part about packing your own lunch is that you do not have to spend more time choosing from a wide array of amazing foods. Instead, you just need to throw in your favorite snack items into a ziplock bag and pack them for the day ahead.
Healthy Lunch Ideas To Pack Or Work
Packing a healthy lunch takes a little planning, but good nutrition is a big reward. If you struggle for lunch ideas, this simple guide on how to pack a healthy lunch is just what you need. Read on for 13 lunch ideas that will keep you feeling full all afternoon, and my at-a-glance guide to pairing delicious and healthy food types.
If you’re like most busy people, packing a healthy lunch for yourself probably seems like a chore. When you’re busy running out the door in the morning, packing a lunch for yourself is probably the furthest thing from your mind. But when lunch time rolls around and you haven’t planned ahead, you’re likely to grab whatever is quick and easy. And that may not always be the best choice. Getting into the habit of packing a healthy lunch for yourself might take a little time and effort on your part, but it’s a habit worth trying to establish. Not only will it save you some money, you’ll have much more control over what and how much you eat.
What Is A Healthy Lunch?
What you eat for lunch can make a big difference in how you perform for the rest of the day. If you don’t provide your body with the fuel it needs at lunch, you might find yourself tired or fuzzy-headed in the afternoon. That could leave you searching for a sugary, calorie-laden pick-me-up. Ideally, your lunch meal will keep you satisfied for several hours, so you’ll have the mental and physical energy to get through the rest of your busy day.
Even though many people rely on typical lunch food, like a sandwich, or soup and a salad, there are many different foods that can provide you with the energy and good nutrition that you need. Protein is important, since it helps to keep your hunger in check. Vegetables help to fill you up and contribute plenty of vitamins and minerals, and high-fiber whole grains take time to digest and give your meal more staying power. To satisfy your sweet tooth, you can finish off your meal with some healthy carbs—in the form of a piece of fresh fruit.
If you’re not in the habit of packing a healthy lunch for yourself, start planning the night before. One of the easiest things to pack for lunch is leftovers from your evening meal, so get in the habit of cooking extra food. As long as you’re going to all the trouble to prepare and cook, you may as well get a few meals from your efforts. If you portion out your lunch at the same time you portion out your dinner, and then stash it in the refrigerator for the next day, there won’t be temptation to eat a second helping at night.
Once you get in the habit of putting aside leftovers for yourself, the next step is to start setting aside different components of your meals. That’s the chopped raw vegetables, or the cooked meats, grains or poultry. Over the course of a few days, you’ll build up a stash of healthy ingredients to put together a variety of quick, healthy lunches.
Packing A Healthy Lunch – Get Ready
It’s hard to pack a healthy lunch if you don’t have the right ingredients on hand. I’ll be the first to admit that this does take a little time and planning. But I really believe that the extra bit of time spent to make sure that your refrigerator, freezer and pantry are stocked make all the difference. When you don’t have what you need, it’s too easy to pick up something at the store or vending machine that might not be as healthy as something you’d pack yourself. I spend a little extra time a few nights a week to chop extra vegetables or wash extra salad greens for my lunches, which makes choosing what to pack for a healthy lunch a whole lot easier.
Try to get into the habit of “cooking once, eating twice (or more).” Cook extra proteins and whole grains. And if you’re washing vegetables for salads or chopping veggies for cooking, always wash and dice extra so you’ll have them on hand.
Foods To Keep On Hand
- Whole grain options: brown rice, quinoa, millet, cracked wheat, whole wheat pasta or soba noodles, barley
- Protein options: chicken or turkey breast, roasted tofu, cooked lentils, cooked veggie burgers
- Vegetable options: mixed salad greens (wash, dry thoroughly, wrap in a large kitchen towel and store in crisper drawer in the refrigerator); leftover cooked vegetables; diced firm vegetables (they’ll keep for a few days) – carrots, celery, red onion, peppers
- In the pantry: canned beans, canned tuna, canned salmon, canned tomatoes, nut butters, whole grain bread/pita bread, whole grain crackers, whole grain tortillas
- In the refrigerator: low-fat milk, soy milk, plain Greek-style yogurt, cottage cheese, hard-boiled eggs, hummus, salsa, whole fruits, low-fat salad dressings, marinated artichoke hearts, roasted peppers
- In the freezer: whole frozen fruits for smoothies, veggie burgers, frozen chicken breasts ready to cook in a batch
Packing A Healthy Lunch – Get Set
Here’s a simple system to help you pack a healthy lunch. Simply pick a protein, add some vegetables and choose a whole grain. Add a bit of healthy fat for flavor if you like, then let your imagination run free. This isn’t meant to be a complete list, but these are some of the most common ingredients you’re likely to use to put together a healthy lunch. Add some fruit with your meal or for dessert and you’re all set.
|Protein Powder||Leafy Salad Greens||Cooked Brown Rice||Hummus|
|Milk||Carrots||Cooked Whole Wheat Pasta||Avocado|
|Soy Milk||Peppers||Cooked Soba Noodles||Nut Butter|
|Greek-Style Yogurt||Onions||100% Whole Grain Bread||Nuts|
|Cottage Cheese||Celery||Cooked Quinoa||Olive Oil|
|Roasted Chicken Breast||Tomatoes||Cooked Millet||Seeds|
|Roasted Turkey Breast||Cucumber||Cooked Cracked Wheat||Sesame Oil|
|Canned Tuna||Squash||Cooked Barley|
|Canned Salmon||Green Beans||100% Whole Grain Crackers|
|Cooked Beans or Lentils||Broccoli||Whole Grain Tortillas|
|Eggs||Asparagus||Cooked Sweet Potato|
How To Pack A Healthy Lunch – Go!
Once you pick items from each column, it’s easy to come up with lots of great-tasting, healthy lunches you can pack yourself. Here are some ideas to get you started:
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Mason Jar Chicken Salad With Japanese Hibachi Dressing
This vibrantly colorful and healthy make-ahead salad is sure to become a go-to weekday lunch, though it’s pretty enough to serve to guests. Fresh ginger gives a pleasant bite to the toasted sesame salad dressing, which is inspired by the dressings served at Japanese hibachi restaurants.
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Zucchini Noodles With Quick Turkey Bolognese
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Tuscan White Bean Soup
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Rainbow Veggie Wraps
There’s definitely a sushi vibe to these kid-friendly wraps, which are stuffed with vegetables, cheese and hummus and then rolled and sliced. Serve them with store-bought green goddess, a creamy herb-filled dressing, to take it up a notch with ease. They look impressive but they’re easy enough for kids to assemble themselves for an easy lunch or dinner.
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Cider-Sesame Chicken Wraps
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Shrimp Cobb Salad
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Canned salmon is a valuable pantry staple and a practical way to include heart-healthy omega-3-rich fish in your diet. Here, we combine it with avocados in an easy no-cook meal.
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Chicken Satay Bowls With Spicy Peanut Sauce
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Roasted Veggie Mason Jar Salad
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Chopped Cobb Salad with Chicken
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Tuna, White Bean & Dill Salad
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Hearty Tomato Soup With Beans & Greens
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Egg Salad Lettuce Wraps
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Zucchini Noodle Bowls with Chicken Sausage & Pesto
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Chicken Freezer Burritos
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Creamy Tomato Soup With Tortellini
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Meal-Prep Falafel Bowls with Tahini Sauce
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Turkey Spinach Salad With Beets
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Minestrone with Italian Sausage & Pesto
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Ravioli & Vegetable Soup
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Make-Ahead Spinach & Black Bean Burritos
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Quinoa Avocado Salad
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Black Bean, Mango & Kale Wheat Berry Salad
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