School’s Back in Session! Meaning bagged lunches, afternoon traffic, school supply lists, and busy schedules are back too.
Sidenote: I love school supply season! Target and Walmart have had aisle after aisle of school supplies stocked for weeks. And this year, I’m not gonna lie, I felt a little twinge of sadness looking at the school supply section knowing I didn’t need cute binders or colorful pens. Graduating college has its ups and downs, but sometimes it hits you at the funniest times. Anyway, back on track…
Despite the fact that I am not in school right now, I still struggle to find healthy, packable lunches that sustain me throughout the day. It can become a burden to think of healthy, hearty options to make-ahead for school and work lunches. Creating a balance between delicious and nutritious can be tough. However, here are some of my picks for favorite make-ahead lunches for work, school, or even just a beach picnic!
1. Homemade Bistro Box
I am all about a good fruit and cheese plate! Nothing says simplicity like a random assortment of quality cheese, fruit, and crackers. Rather than doling out $10 at Starbucks for their protein bistro box, pack a hard-boiled egg, grapes, an apple, your favorite cheese, hummus or peanut butter, and crackers. Not only will you have a meal covering all the major food groups, you also can modify it to fit your needs. Sounds like a home-run to me!
2. Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad
Seriously, ditch the mayonnaise laden store-bought chicken salad already! Try out my new favorite recipe of Healthy Chicken Salad which is chocked full of grapes, celery, pecans, and of course delicious chicken. Make it a wrap with a whole wheat tortilla or romaine hearts, or just eat it with crackers and fresh veggies.
3. Grilled Meat + Vegetables
Buy a large portion of lean chicken breasts or pork chops, cook it up in your favorite marinade or rub, and then divide it up accordingly for your weekly lunches. Don’t forget to add in vegetables too! Sweet potatoes, green beans, asparagus, and corn are great options.
4. Loaded Salads
Recently tried kale on my salad, and LOVED the flavor it added. I was so afraid to try it, but I’m so glad I did. Buy a bulk bag of spinach and kale at Costco or Sam’s Club and divide it up for a week’s worth of salads. Be sure you add in the 4 Necessities: Protein, Healthy Fat, Vegetables, & Fruit. Also homemade salad dressing eliminates the consumption of unnecessary preservatives, so whip up your own (check out MyWholeFoodLife’s 12 Healthy Salad Dressings). Salads are also a great way to use up the leftovers from your previous night’s dinner. Taco toppings from the night before, like black beans, avocado, and tomato, make a fantastic southwest salad the next day. Be creative!
Protein: chicken, salmon, steak, tuna, shrimp, turkey, edamame, black beans, chickpeas, hard-boiled egg, cheese
Healthy Fat: avocado, nuts, hummus, seeds
Vegetables: carrots, cucumbers, peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, squash, eggplant, celery artichokes
Fruit: strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, grapes, peaches, plums, dried cranberries, raisins
5. Freezer Meals
The freezer can be a huge life-saver when you are crazy busy. Sometimes you just need to have a meal ready and on hand to pop in the oven or microwave, because the act of physically cooking is exhausting. Skinny Mom has some fabulous 400 calorie or less recipes online that are freezer-friendly (making them easy to transport to work or school and pop in the microwave). All I’m saying is the 3-cheese penne and the chicken chili look INCREDIBLE! Word to the wise: make these freezer meals on the weekend so you can enjoy your weekdays even more.
This isn’t the most glamorous option around, BUT it’s economical and lightens the load of your fridge. Last week, I made a Mexican Quinoa Burrito Bowl that was FAN-TAB-U-LOUS! I’m still thinking about it if that tells you anything. This dish would be the perfect thing to put in tupperware to take to work, because you can easily microwave it and bring the toppings that you want in ziploc bags. Easy peasy! Play around with your weekly menu and make room for leftovers a couple days for lunch.
Don’t forget to pack a water bottle (preferably a reusable one). One of the best ways to maintain a healthy weight, maintain bright and beautiful skin, and keep your electrolytes in balance is by drinking water. Put down the diet sodas, sparkling fruit drinks, and crystal light packets. Replenish your body in a healthy, organic way and drink water!
Also, check out these pages for more packed lunch inspiration:
Would love to hear about your favorite make-ahead lunches for work too, comment below and your concoction might just get featured!
XO, Kitchy Living