Weekdays are my busiest days of the week! Who else feels the same?! Once I get my oldest on the bus in the morning I’m rushing my youngest and I to the gym or a Pilates or Barre 3 class. I then rush home because I literally have 70 minutes to shower, get myself together and make us lunches before we are out the door to drop off my youngest at pre-k. I have NO TIME to make myself fancy lunches, but I do want to eat healthy and not the left overs of my son’s sandwich or mac and cheese (yes there was a time where I considered that my lunch).
Over the past year I have been experimenting with what I can make that is quick and healthy, but also TASTES good. If something doesn’t taste good then there is a good chance I wouldn’t make it again and I would fall back into eating unhealthy lunches. Therefore, I made it a goal to figure out how to maneuver through my day without sacrificing my health and good food! I have put together some tips that have helped me continue to eat healthy while not getting board with food choices and somehow still making it out the door in time to get my son to school.
Tip #1: Pre-packaged organic salad blends are my best friend
These pre-package organic salad blends are a game changer. All the veggie fixings you need are chopped and washed and ready to eat. However, I do not use the toppings and salad dressing that comes with the mixes (my husband likes these so I use them on his salads). I might add my own tomatoes, cucumbers and of course protein of choice (chicken, tuna or eggs). I also prefer to use my own salad dressing to cut back on the added sugar and calories from the dressing that comes with the mix. Top off the salad with some avocado and this makes for one yummy lunch!
Tip #2: Always have prepped protein on hand
I love grilled chicken on my salads or sautéed with vegetables, but if I don’t have time to meal prep the chicken on the weekends, I look for already grilled and sliced chicken in the frozen food section. I make sure though that the chicken does NOT have any hormones or antibiotics in it. For me, it has to be either organic or free range chicken. I also make sure I have tuna packets and eggs (hard boiled and regular) readily available. This way it’s super easy to add protein to my lunches.
Tip #3: Have good quality salad dressings and sauces on hand
This is a must! You can make a wonderful healthy salad and then poor on dressing that has a ton of calories in it and full of sugar. On the weekends I like to make my own dressing for the week or if there is no time to meal prep I like to use a good quality dressing that is low in sugar like Primal Kitchen’s Honey Mustard Dressing made with avocado oil. I also recommend having soy sauce, tamari sauce, or coconut aminos on hand for quick easy stir-fry’s or a sriracha sauce to spice things up a notch. Having a good sauce is key to making lunches flavorful and not boring.
Tip #4: Mason Jar lunches are AMAZING
When I was working I would make 4 Mason Jar salads on the weekends so during the week all I had to do was grab it out of the fridge and go. These are also great if you are traveling or going on a picnic. Some tips to avoid a soggy Mason Jar salad:
Tip #5: Sauté lunches
Since winter has decided to stick around here in Ohio for a little bit longer (yes it’s April and still snowing), I have been craving a hot lunch. So instead of making a salad I will sauté the vegetables and add in spices and sauces to change up the flavors. Greens that I have found easy to sauté are spinach, cabbage, and kale. I then add in whatever else I can find in my fridge. This includes scallions, shredded carrots, broccoli, chopped peppers, sliced mushrooms. I would then add in my protein, which is usually chicken or I scramble an egg or two.
Tip #6: Have chopped vegetables on hand
This is where spending a few extra minutes to meal prep on the weekend will save you a bunch of time. If you can’t chop, shred or slice your vegetables then buy them already chopped, shredded and sliced from the store. The trick is about grabbing what you want or need and not having to take extra time to chop up anything.
I hope these tips help you to make quick and easy, healthy meals for the week. Please let me know if you have any questions! Enjoy!