Ah, lunch break. Such an important time of day. But we can think of a few reasons why buying your lunch every day isn’t necessarily the best option. For one thing, all those $10, $20, or $30+ meals really add up. Need a reference point? Just think of how far those dollars can stretch at the grocery store.
For another thing, we find that people tend to be less likely to make healthy food choices when they’re already hungry. An empty stomach is often no match for temptation, whether that’s found in the cafeteria, the local corner store, or even the office itself.
This week, why not challenge yourself by bringing a few meals into work? We’ve even got some inspiration to get you going: healthy, delicious, “adult” versions of some of your favorite school lunches from way back in the day. That’s right: brown-bagging has never looked so good.
First Things First: 3 Tips For Passing The Grade On Meal Prep
If one of your goals is to start making more of your own lunches (or your kids’ lunches), then don’t set yourself up for failure. Follow a few of these helpful meal prep guidelines:
1) The night before is your new best friend.
Don’t expect yourself to do it all in the morning before heading out. If you are able to, prepare your lunch the night before. Packing some lunch-size leftovers from dinner is also a great option.
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2) Stick to simple, healthy ingredients.
Unless you’re a certified chef, don’t worry about going for any complicated re-vamps. Simple = easy, and during a busy week, easy is what you need.
3) Invest in some good glassware.
Even just one or two microwave- and dishwasher-safe glass dishes are enough to get you loving bring-your-own-lunch day. Quality food containers are a must if you’re looking for grab-and-go convenience.
5 Ways To Upgrade Your Old School Lunches
Monday through Friday, we’ve got you covered. Try these grown-up versions of your all-time favorite school lunches:
1) Monday: The crudité platter.
Instead of a few boring carrot and celery sticks dipped in ranch dressing, add some color, crunch, and tons of nutrients to your lunch. Cut slices of raw red peppers, rainbow carrots, seedless cucumbers, or any of your favorite (or seasonal!) veggies to dip in cottage cheese, hummus, or your favorite dressing (look for minimal ingredients and no added sugar–full-fat varieties are totally okay). Add some prosciutto or turkey-wrapped mango slices for some extra protein and sweetness!
2) Tuesday: Deviled eggs.
Nix the bread and egg salad sandwich. Hard boil some eggs and prepare them based on your favorite deviled egg recipe. Sprinkle with a dusting of paprika or turmeric, and enjoy with a cup of tea, slices of Granny Smith apple slices, and a handful of roasted Macadamia nuts or almonds.
3) Wednesday: Apple, grape, and pine nut salad.
Nothing says school lunch like a PB&J sammie–but man oh man is that sandwich is loaded with sugar and carbs. For a sweet lunch that’s much lower on the glycemic index scale, try this recipe. Switch in a different nut if you’d like, but be sure you have some sort of healthy fat to help balance out the carbs from the fruit. And be sure to enjoy with a side of healthy protein like tinned sardines, or whatever’s leftover from dinner.
4) Thursday: Chicken lettuce wraps.
No, you don’t have to skip the taco line. Just trade the taco shell for some big leafy greens–try romaine or bibb lettuce–and stuff with your favorite chicken and fixings. Top with guacamole for a delicious dose of monounsaturated fats.
5) Friday: Seltzer water.
Yes, everyone and their mother is obsessed with LaCroix sparkling water these days. But if you’re trying to kick the unhealthy soda habit (or trying to wean your kids off juice boxes and Capri Sun), then seltzer will be your new best friend. Some of our favorites? Pellegrino, Polar, Spindrift, and Vintage.
Have a favorite homemade lunch of yours that you’ve “adultified“? Let us know about it in the comments below!