Lunch can be hard at work. If you are like most, you rarely get more than a few minutes to actually eat. Often, there are meetings or errands that have to be done, which means we are eating in front of our computers or at our desk. In fact, more than 6 in 10 professionals eat lunch at their desk. (Source: TriCityMed) That means if you didn't bring your lunch to work, you'll have to go to the cafeteria and pick from a menu that is probably not the healthiest.
In order to avoid the unhealthy lunch cycle, a little planning over the weekend means you will have a healthy option to eat at your desk. Making lunch on the weekend does not have to take a long time. Most of the recipes I share below can be made quickly on the weekend, packaged up into single servings and reheated. Some of the recipes can actually be dinner first with left-overs for lunch. This gets you an even bigger bang for your buck.
Meal planning is just one step to making a healthy lunch. The containers used for storing and reheating lunch also need to be considered. Plastic containers, even if they are BPA-free, are the worst containers to store and reheat food. We've been taught that BPA-free is what we need to look for. This has given us a false sense of security that BPA-free plastics are safe.
However, plastic containers have a lot of chemicals in addition to BPA that can cause havoc in our bodies. Even the microwave safe plastic containers are not safe. When heating up food in the microwave that is in plastic, chemicals leach into the food in the container. (Source: The Guardian) In general, stay away from plastic! Use glass whenever possible.
Another way to have a healthier lunch, is to strive to have at least 80% of the ingredients be organic. Organic foods are healthier because they are not grown with chemicals and pesticides. As a result, organic foods have higher nutrient content which means you will naturally eat less. This is great for helping you achieve either your weight loss or weight maintenance goals. There are many other ways to eat healthier but I want to get to the delicious recipes.
3 Ingredient Creamy Tomato Shells from Pinch of Yum. I love pasta for lunch because it can be eaten cold or hot. Pair with a green salad to get some veggies in your day. This recipe is vegan! It uses cashews to make the tomato sauce creamy. If you are gluten-free, there are plenty of gluten-free pasta options to try. Click here for the recipe.
3 Ingredient Baked Cheddar Cauliflower Bites from Gimme Delicious. They may look fancy and as if they took a lot of time BUT they only take 22 minutes from start to finish. Plus, you can use frozen cauliflower instead of fresh. Click here for the recipe.
Slow Cooker Taco Chicken from A Nerd Cooks. Slow cookers can be life savers. Just put all the ingredients in the cooker, set the temperature and let it cook on its own. This recipe only has 3 ingredients. You can use the chicken on a sandwich, on a salad or stir fry some veggies to add to the chicken. Click here for the recipe.
Chicken and Broccoli Lunch Bowl from An Edible Mosaic. The recipe as designed takes 10 minutes. It uses frozen broccoli which is already chopped up into florets. Couscous is the base for the lunch bowl but if you are making rice or another grain for dinner, just make a little extra and use that for this lunch idea. Click here for the recipe.
Edamame Power Salad from 86 Lemons. This salad is vegan but you can add chicken or steak or cheese depending on the lifestyle you follow. The recipe calls for avocado, chickpeas and apples. It is full of healthy plant proteins since edamame has 17 grams per serving. It includes a dressing recipe as well. Click here for the recipe.
Fattoush Salad with Za'atar from My New Roots. Za'atar is my new favorite spice blend! It is fresh and adds a nice lemony flavor to steamed veggies. I didn't think to sprinkle it on salads but now I will. Click here for the recipe.
Healthy Broccoli Salad from iFOODReal. The recipe uses yogurt instead of mayo for a healthy, creamy kick. If you can't have dairy, like myself, experiment with unflavored plant-based yogurt. The salad has raisins, nuts and apple cider vinegar in it so a plant-based yogurt will help bind it all together. Click here for the recipe.
Strawberry Spinach Salad from Fit Foodie Finds. Spinach leaves break up the old salad routine. Combine them with fresh strawberries for a refreshing and light salad. The recipe has a poppy seed dressing on it, which you can also find on the Fit Foodie Finds website. Click here for the recipe.
Roasted Vegetable and Grain Salad on Olive Magazine. Ok, this one is not fast but look how beautiful it is! I couldn't resist it! You can eat this cold or warm, depending on your preference. The magazine is from Europe so it uses a mixed seed mix. I would use farro as the grain of choice to put the veggies on. But you can use something else like quinoa or buckwheat. Not interested in eating a grain with these veggies? Add some chickpeas or pinto beans to make the veggies more satisfying. Click here for the recipe.
Thai Chicken Quinoa Bowl from How Sweets Eats. The Thai sauce really makes this bowl a lunch recipe that won't make you bored. I think this recipe would also work with noodles if you aren't a fan of quinoa. Click here for the recipe.
I hope this post on easy and healthy lunch recipes inspired you to take a little time over the weekend to meal prep. It is totally worth it when you can have something homemade with fresh ingredients versus having to rely on the corporate cafeteria or a fast food restaurant.
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