It’s start of a new school year, and you know what that means: back to packing lunch for the kids. But if you haven’t given much thought to the lunch you’re packing for yourself, it’s time to start. A healthy lunchbox is just as important for adults as it is for kids. This fall, change up your old routine by breaking away from your boring go-to lunch (turkey sandwich again?!) and trying something new.
Packing your lunch is a good way to ensure healthy food choices during the workday. Including a combination of complex carbohydrates (read: healthful whole grains and fiber), protein, and healthy fat gives you the best bang for your buck. Carbohydrates provide energy, while protein and fat slow down digestion. This helps to prolong your energy levels and keep you full for longer. A balanced nutrient-packed lunch will help prevent the afternoon energy slump (and keep you from hitting up the vending machine). As if you needed another reason to pack a healthy lunch, research shows that the foods you eat can actually help (or hurt) your productivity.
While it’s easy to keep packing the same old PB and J and carrot sticks, after a few weeks of this Monday through Friday routine, you may find you just can’t face one more peanut butter sandwich. Instead of resorting to grabbing a not-so-healthy take-out meal, try these eight fresh and healthy lunch ideas to keep your taste buds happy all week long.
Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad from Nourished Simply.
This tasty chicken salad pairs sweet cranberries with salty pecans and crunchy celery. You can simplify the recipe by using a store-bought rotisserie chicken. Enjoy it over salad greens or pair it with whole grain bread for extra fiber.
Honey Garlic Roasted Chickpea Wrap from Faith Food Fitness.
Serve up some Asian flare with this easy vegan wrap recipe. Garlic-scented cauliflower rice adds a serving of vegetables, without all the carbs.
Lunchbox Chickpea Salad from Food Pleasure and Health
With no cooking involved, you can throw this salad together in just ten minutes and have your lunch for the entire week. You can easily bulk up the salad by adding a quick-cooking whole grain like quinoa or farro.
Kale Salad with Warm Cranberry Vinaigrette from Gimme Some Oven
This colorful kale salad is topped with slivered almonds and a warm shallot and garlic infused cranberry vinaigrette. To add some more protein, add two hard boiled eggs, canned, drained no-salt added chick peas or white beans, or some shredded chicken (another great use for that rotisserie chicken).
Chickpea Hummus Wraps from Sara Haas RDN
This wrap comes together in just a few minutes, making it a perfect weekday lunch. Start with a whole grain wrap and layer hummus, canned chickpeas, and leafy greens. A fun flavor (and healthy fat) boost comes from feta cheese and pepitas.
Easy Veggie Bean Chili with Cashews from Whole Living Lauren
This is one of my all-time favorite chilis for three reasons: 1) it can be made in 20-30 minutes; 2) you can make a big batch and freeze some for future lunches; 3) it has cashews! Doesn’t get much better than that.
Spicy Hummus Black Bean Burger from Kara Lydon The Foodie Dietitian
These moist and meaty veggie burgers are packed with plant-based protein from black beans and hummus. Pair with a whole grain bun and a side of raw veggies for a lunch with staying power.
Luvo Bowls. These meals are packed with protein, veggies and whole grains and heat up in the microwave (or ovens) in just minutes. Perfect for days when cooking just isn’t happening, toss one in your bag on the way out the door and bam – lunch! With flavors like Chana Masala and Roasted Caulifower Mac and Cheese, these bowls will satisfy your taste buds and your appetite.
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