Hi, Friends! Happy Sunday, I hope you are having a lovely weekend so far! A few days ago my friend Rob, who you may remember from our wedding, text me and asked me what healthy lunches he could bring with him to work. (He was currently bringing a BLT sandwich on hoagie bread every day.) Instead of texting back a few general topics I decided it was the perfect time to make Week 10 in the 52 Weeks to 52 Healthy Habits series all about packing a healthy lunch!
Packing a healthy lunch not only saves you money and time but also gives you control over calories and ingredients as well. When I was in graduate school, I brought the same thing to lunch almost every day: an almond butter and banana sandwich on 100 calorie sandwich bread with baby carrots. A meal that was tasty and mostly healthy, but severely lacked protein (and calories overall), leaving me hungry not even 2 hours, sometimes an hour later. Luckily for me, I’ve learned a thing or two since graduating and becoming an RD, so now I can share it with you awesome Hungry Hobby readers.
To build a healthy balanced lunch, you need the following components: protein, healthy fat, veggies, and a complex carbohydrate. Here are five simple ways with endless combinations to throw together a healthy balanced and satisfying meal in 10 minutes or less!
1) The Adult Lunch-able
Just pick one from each category, and you are ready to go!
Image originally from this post: How to pack the Adult Lunchable
2) Build A Healthy Sandwich or Wrap
- Bread/Wrap: it’s important to look for the word “whole” in the ingredient list if it’s not there then you’re likely getting refined grains, the higher the protein/fiber content, the better
- Protein: (anything from the adult punchable list) including uncured natural nitrate free deli meat, grilled/rotisserie chicken, hard boiled eggs, leftovers from last night’s dinner, chicken salad or tuna salad
- Veggies: pick whatever makes you happy some of my favorites are lettuce/spinach, sprouts, and tomatoes
- Spreads: use avocado and hummus instead of mayo to pack in the nutrients and flavor
Tip! Use a bit of the dip as glue for a wrap and wrap it in tin foil so you can pull the foil back as you eat it making sure it stays together
Looking for an idea? Try this Salmon Hummus Wrap!
3) Canned Tuna, Chicken or Salmon Salads
- Protein: canned chicken or tuna or salmon
- Base: again use avocado, hummus, and or Greek yogurt to make it creamy
- stir in shredded carrots or chopped celery, cucumber or tomatoes
- use cucumber slices or bell pepper halves as the dip instead of chips
- place mixture over big salad for extra greens
- Flavor: Don’t forget to add seasonings like garlic for flavor, add chopped up apple for a sweet crunch
Looking for a spicy idea? Try my Spicy Tuna Salad recipe!
4) Build A Filling Salad:
- Base: dark leafy greens like spinach, arugula or spring mix give you the most nutrient bang for your buck over iceberg
- Healthy fat: add a small handful of nuts/seed or cheese
- Protein: anything (see adult lunch-able)
- Healthy Carb: try adding a big scoop of brown rice, quinoa or rinsed canned beans, or try sliced fruit
- Dressing: look for something with minimally recognizable ingredients, limit inflammatory oils
5) Yummy Healthy Bowls:
- Base: Brown rice, quinoa, or other whole grain (to make it easier cook enough at the beginning of the week or buy pre-cooked), also could use rinsed canned beans
- veggies: grilled or roasted veggies of any kind
- Protein: hard boiled eggs, shrimp, sliced grilled natural sausages, edamame/tofu
- Dressing: chose a high-quality dressing with lots of healthy fat like pesto or peanut sauce
[Tweet “Awesome Tips! 5 Simple Ways To Build A Healthy Balanced & Filling Lunch via @hungryhobby”]
A Few More Tips!
- Try using a theme like Mexican, Asian, etc. to inspire you. For example, for a salad, you can do a taco salad theme with chicken, beans, salsa, avocado, and cheese.
- Keep it cold. If you don’t have access to a refrigerator consider purchasing a cooler or insulated bag (I have this one and I love it <– affiliate link).
- Variety is good, but when you are just getting used to bringing a healthy lunch pick one or two things to have all week and prep them ahead of time so you are more likely to follow through and it isn’t too overwhelming.
- You can build a balanced meal out of just about anything. These 15 On The Go Healthy Breakfast ideas could quickly become portable lunch ideas!
52 HEALTHY HABITS IN 52 WEEKS SERIES:
The 52 Healthy Habits Series is about ditching the diet mindset and making small changes to improve health overall naturally leading to a healthy body composition, increased energy and improved health. Please follow along and check out the past weeks!
- Week 52: Healthy Habits Wrap Up
- Week 51: Nightly Reflection
- Week 50: Limit Harmful Chemicals
- Week 49: Find Your Tribe
- Week 48: Cultivating Positivity
- Week 47: Healthy Thanksgiving Tips
- Week 46: Check In
- Week 45: Mobility – Foam Rolling
- Week 44: HIIT Training
- Week 43: LISS or Steady State Cardio
- Week 42: Limit Alcohol
- Week 41: Eat White, Wait What?
- Week 40: Eat Blue & Purple
- Week 39: Eat Green
- Week 38: Eat Yellow/Orange
- Week 37: Eat Red
- Week 36: Learn Which Foods to Purchase Organic
- Week 35: Read the Ingredient List!
- Week 34: Focus.
- Week 33: Chew Your Food!
- Week 32: Meditation
- Week 31: Gratitude Journaling
- Week 30: Plan & Revamp Dessert- 20 Healthy Ideas
- Week 29: Two fistfuls of veggies per meal
- Week 28: Get In Veggies At Breakfast
- Week 27: Healthy Veggie Snacks
- Week 26: Nourishing Fats for the Gut (Healthy Digestion Part 4)
- Week 25: Keeping Regular – The Other Fiber (Healthy Digestion Part 3)
- Week 24: Feed The Probiotics With Prebiotic Fiber (Healthy Digestion Part 2)
- Week 23: Amazing Health Benefits of Probiotics (Healthy Digestion Part 1)
- Week 22: Check In
- Week 21: What You Will Learn From Recording Your Meals (Intuitive Eating Series Part 4)
- Week 20: Eat Until 80% Full (Hara Hachi Bu) (Intuitive Eating Series Part 3)
- Week 19: Limit Distractions While Eating (Intuitive Eating Series Part 2)
- Week 18: Gaging Your Hunger Cues (Intuitive Eating Series Part 1)
- Week 17: 10,000 Steps Per Day
- Week 16: Assess Your Caffeine Intake
- Week 15: Decrease Sugar Intake
- Week 14: Healthy Coffee Creamers (upgrade yours)
- Week 13: 3 Month Check In
- Week 12: Sleep Enough & Sleep Better
- Week 11: Schedule Your Workouts
- Week 10: Pack A Healthy Lunch (5 Ways to Create Endless Combinations)
- Week 9: Prioritizing Protein
- Week 8: How and What to Meal Prep
- Week 7: Create & Stick To Your Healthy Meal Plan
- Week 6: Get Enough Omega-3’s (Fight Inflammation)
- Week 5: What Is A Healthy Fat & How To Get Enough (Include Healthy Fats)
- Week 4: How to Spot A Healthy Carbohydrate (Upgrade Your Carbs)
- Week 3: Tips to Increase Veggie Intake (Eat Veggies)
- Week 2: 15 Healthy On the Go Breakfast Ideas (Eat BF Challenge)
- Week 1: Tips to Drink More Water