What’s For Lunch
Packing lunch for yourself is a great way to make sure that you are prepared to eat healthy throughout the day. When I was commuting to Winthrop 3-4 days a week for school while working in Columbia I had all my snacks and meals planned out. I would pack a giant cooler full of food each evening/morning because I knew it was worth it. Why go through so much hassle and what is the benefit? Well let me go into a little more detail.
Reasons why I believe it is worth packing lunch:
- Fiscal responsibility: I saved so much money by packing food versus eating out. I do my part to boost our economy in other ways; they do not need by lunch money.
- Control: I could control exactly what was in each meal, pack it full of nutrients, and leave out the extra calories.
- My waistline: Eating out everyday has shown to not be beneficial for my waistline. Restaurant options are loaded with unwanted calories, even if it is the lunch portion.
- Variety: I could vary my lunches daily, while I was stuck with limited healthy options at nearby restaurants.
With all of the benefits to packing lunch why do some still choose to eat out? Convenience.
Here are some tips for packing lunch that make it less of a daily chore:
- Leftovers: I use these often when preparing food for the the following day. Usually I divvy out what I had the night before into properly portion sized Tupperware so it is all ready to go. Re purposing leftover as well works wonders. If you have leftover quinoa from the night before, you can transform it into a quinoa salad but adding a few veggies, nuts, and dried fruit.
- Plan ahead: One way I plan ahead is when I come up with dinner plans for the week I like to choose recipes that ensure there is enough leftovers that I can take in the morning.
- Meal Prep: This could also go with planning ahead. If you have a free day, many people choose Sunday, make pre-portioned lunches for the rest of the week.
- Know yourself and plan accordingly: This is a great tip. If you pack a lunch that you are not into, e.g. celery sticks and a co-worker is bringing pizza, what are the chances you will say yes.
So what kind of meals make great lunches? Large salads prepped at the beginning of the week make for an easy fast lunch. Pasta salads, grain based salads, as well as lettuce salad work well. If it is a lettuce salad be sure to leave off any dressing so it doesn’t get soggy. Making a large batch of soup for the week provides delicious lunch options; many soups get better with time. If you don’t want to eat the same soup all week, most freeze easily. Once you have a variety stockpiled you can pull out the soup of your choice for a convenient meal. Another solid lunch go-to is the sandwich. If you do not have enough time in the morning this is a good option for night time prep.
One of my favorite things to make for lunch is a grain bowl. They are simple, I can use leftovers, and I can essentially throw whatever I want into them. Here is a recipe for a grain bowl that you could make early in the week and get a few lunches out of. It is an easy base recipe. If you wanted to add protein or other vegetables to change it up daily you could easily do so.
Corn, Black Bean and Quinoa Salad Recipe
Total time 25 minutes
Source: Daily burn
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 cup cooked or canned black beans, drained
4 ears cooked corn, shucked
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
3 scallions, finely minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
In a small container, combine lime juice, vinegar, oregano, salt, pepper and oil. Shake until emulsified and set aside.
Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan, add quinoa, reduce to heat to low, cover and simmer until quinoa is tender and all the water has been absorbed, about 15 minutes. Transfer the quinoa to a colander and rinse under cold running water. Drain thoroughly and transfer to a large bowl.
Add the black beans, corn, bell pepper, scallions and cilantro to the quinoa bowl. Pour in the dressing and toss to coat all the ingredients well. Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving.
What kind of lunches do you like to pack? We would love to hear from you! Please comment below if you have any great lunch recipes!
Have a great weekend,
Lynae Beresford and the CC team!