Lunch can be tricky, especially if you are at work or school during the day. But the traditional PB & J is not your only option when packing lunch. If you want to make packing lunch a quick and easy task, stock your kitchen with healthy options like those listed below. Pick a few foods that you like and keep them on hand.
Also – keep some storage containers, plastic sandwich bags, a thermos and an insulated lunch bag or cooler to transport and store your lunch.
- Fresh vegetables – baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, snap peas and precut vegetables are quick to pack
- You can also buy whole vegetables like broccoli, bell peppers and celery; chop them up when you get home to use throughout the week on sandwiches, wraps or salads
- Fresh mixed greens or spinach – pile onto sandwiches, wraps or use in salads
- Frozen vegetables – try those you can steam in the package; a great idea if you’ve got a microwave available to you during the day
- Whole fruit like apples, bananas, oranges, clementines, pears, nectarines, grapes or peaches – these are easy to grab and go
- Canned fruit (canned in juice, not syrup) – try individual serving cups or cans of mandarin oranges, peaches or fruit cocktail
- 100% whole wheat bread, pitas, and/or wraps – if you’re trying to cut back on carbohydrate, consider a low-carb version
- Quinoa or quick-cooking barley
- Canned tuna
- Reduced-sodium canned beans
- Reduced-sodium lean deli meat – try roasted turkey, chicken or roast beef
- Rotisserie chicken – buy a whole chicken and use it throughout the week
- Eggs – hard boil these ahead of time
- Unsalted nuts/nut mix
- Skim or 1% milk – soymilk or almond milk are also god options, especially for those with a lactose intolerance
- Light yogurt or non-fat Greek yogurt – plain is best, flavored varieties will have more carbohydrate
- Cottage cheese – try 1% or 2% low-fat cottage cheese to cut back on the calories
Some Extras for Flavor
- Hot sauce
- Light salad dressing
- Balsamic vinegar
- Olive oil
- Lime and/or lemon juice
Quick & Healthy Lunch Ideas
Here are some ways you can put together the foods above to make a healthy, well-balanced lunch:
- Put a healthy spin on the traditional sandwich: use 2 pieces of thin sandwich bread, 2 ounces reduced-sodium lean turkey, hummus, spinach, bell pepper and mustard. Add some carrot sticks and light ranch dressing on the side.
- Mix together some cooked quinoa, white beans, chopped bell pepper, carrots and broccoli to make a grain salad. Toss with some olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Add a nectarine or some grapes on the side and a small handful of dry roasted almonds, if desired.
- Make a tuna salad with canned tuna, light mayo, diced celery, lemon juice and freshly ground pepper. Serve it over greens with an apple and peanut butter on the side.
- Try a quick yogurt parfait with non-fat plain Greek yogurt, diced pineapple, peaches and a handful of pecans on the side.
- Pack a cup of leftover chili or vegetable soup. Top it with some fresh tomatoes and non-fat plain yogurt instead of sour cream.
- Fill a whole wheat tortilla wrap with rotisserie chicken, hummus, sundried tomatoes, feta cheese and greens. Add a side of fruit if it fits with your plan.
- Try a hard-boiled egg with a piece of fruit, string cheese and 5 whole wheat crackers. You could also add some carrots, celery sticks and peanut butter.
- Throw together a salad with romaine lettuce or spinach and any other non-starchy vegetables that you like. Top with some cottage cheese, chopped nuts and a tablespoon of light dressing.
Dining out for Lunch?
If you don’t have time to make a healthy lunch at home, follow these tips when eating out:
- Try out a vegetarian option, like a grilled vegetable Panini or wrap with fresh vegetables and hummus.
- Order a salad with the dressing on the side. (Watch out for salads with a lot of cheese or fried meats. Ask for less cheese and hold the fried onions and meats.)
- Opt for grilled meat, fish, and poultry rather than fried.
- Order the smallest sandwich. So, skip the double decker cheeseburger and choose a regular hamburger with lettuce, tomato, onion and mustard. Or go for the 6-inch sub rather than the foot-long option.
- Ask if whole wheat is an option for sandwich bread, wraps, or pitas.
- Opt for fresh vegetables, fresh fruit or low-fat yogurt as side dishes.
- Order broth-based vegetable or bean soup rather than creamy soups.
– See more at: http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/food-tips/quick-meal-ideas/quick-lunch-ideas.html#sthash.id813ECD.dpuf