The kids are back in school, summer travel is behind us, and the jackets are coming back out. Fall is a great time to create routine and set yourself up for success in the winter months. With patio season mostly over, going out to lunch isn’t quite as satisfying; warming something up in the work kitchen probably sounds a bit more appealing. Start to bring your lunch daily to save money (the holidays will sneak up on you!) and to save calories for a few Halloween treats. Read on to learn the necessary components in a quality, balanced lunch for kids and adults alike, plus some easy, healthy lunch ideas for work (or any other time you need convenience!).
Healthy Lunch Component #1: Lean Protein Source
When it comes to healthy lunch ideas for work, one of the singular most important components to consider is a lean protein source. By starting with a lean protein source, you’ll ensure the lunch is filling and helps you stay focused for the rest of the afternoon.
- Chicken or turkey breast, shredded or chopped
- Canned tuna or salmon, no salt added
- Hard boiled eggs
- 3-bean salad
- Babybel cheese
- Turkey burger or Beyond Burger
Healthy Lunch Component #2: Complex Carbohydrates
Make sure you round out the protein with a complex carbohydrate to add fiber, natural energy, and satisfaction. [Remember, growing kids and those looking to maintain weight and/or build muscle need more of these than those looking to lose weight.]
- Baked potato
- Whole fruit or mixed cut-up fruit
- Whole or sprouted grain wrap or bread
- Corn, cut it off the cob for easy eating
- Whole grain pasta salad
- Brown rice
Healthy Lunch Component #3: Healthy Fats
A little goes a long way in this section! Add a bit of healthy fats for awesome flavor and to control cravings later in the day.
- Peanut or almond butter
- Handful of mixed nuts
- Guacamole or sliced avocado
Healthy Lunch Component #4: Non-Starchy Vegetables
Once you have the proper portions of each of the sections above, pile on the non-starchy vegetables. These provide more filling fiber and less calories, allowing you to keep on eating! This list could go on forever, but here are a few that are lunchbox-friendly.
- Bell peppers
- Spinach salad
- Homemade zucchini chips
- Broccoli and cauliflower
- Leftover stir fry, roasted, or grilled veggies
Putting It All Together: Healthy Lunch Ideas for Work
Bento is a word mostly encompassing Japanese culture, with Chinese origin, meaning “useful thing” and “convenient”. A “bento” box is a great way to combine the components above into a satisfying and easy healthy lunch for work! Here are a few combinations to consider for your next meal!
- Stir fry with chicken or beans, veggies, and brown rice.
- Tuna or salmon packets on top of greens with roasted chickpeas or quinoa and balsamic vinaigrette.
- Cabbage, carrots and bell peppers mixed with quinoa and shrimp, topped with peanut dressing.
- Sandwich on sprouted grain bread with chicken breast and hummus, side of raw veggies with more hummus!
- Corn tortillas with veggies, beans, or leftover meat. Top with greens and guacamole.
- Hard boiled eggs, mashed with avocado on top of brown rice cakes. Leftover roasted veggies on the side.
- Tuna or chicken salad (try plain Greek yogurt in place of mayo) in lettuce wraps, fruit on the side.
How would you combine these groups into a delicious lunch? Let us know in the comments! Want more information on nutrition programs or to set up a free consultation? Email Amy at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Post written by FFC registered dietitian & nutrition coordinator Amy Silver.
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