Are you are one of the many amazing people who packs their lunch everyday? Pat yourself on the back! Often times it’s that small act makes a huge difference when it comes to your overall health. But while packing your lunch is indeed a feat that should be praised, it’s really what’s inside that lunch bag that matters. Perhaps it’s time to ask yourself, “am I packing foods that nourish or foods that fail?” No matter what your answer, there’s help for you! I’ve asked my esteemed colleagues to share their expertise to help YOU pack your best, most nourishing lunch, ever!
Instead of Packing That, Pack This!
That’s right, we’ve identified some of the culprits that sabotage your awesome efforts at packing a nutritious lunch. These are the foods/beverages that will leave your energy and concentration wavering come 3 o’clock. Avoid them and pack their counterparts instead! Check out what a few registered dietitians when it comes to lunch foods don’t belong and the foods we think should replace them!
Instead of soda, pack flavored water!
“Never pack soda, which is high in added sugar and provides empty calories. Instead, pack water, unsweetened tea, or my favorite, sparkling water, which are all calorie-free hydrating options. Try infused water by filling your water bottle with frozen fruit as the “ice cubes” for added flavor. OR pack a nutrient-rich drink, like skim milk, which will provide protein and bone-building calcium.” –Jessica Ivey, RDN
Instead of packing just one type of one food, try an assortment!
“I never pack an all fruits or veggies lunch. While those foods are healthy, they don’t contain enough of the nutrients I need to have long lasting energy. So if I want a plant heavy lunch- I’ll make a salad and top it with tuna or beans like chickpeas, or add some whole wheat crackers and a couple of ounces of cheese or a yogurt to my fruits/veggies. Get inspired with this round up dietitian-approved salad recipes.” -Tamara Melton, MS, RDN
Instead of packing pre-made salad dressing, pack your own homemade version
It can be challenging to navigate the salad dressing aisle. There are so many varieties and just as many brands. Avoid the stress choosing the “right” one by making your own! It only requires a few ingredients and you can rest easy knowing exactly what’s in it! Combine all of the ingredients in a small canning jar (which makes it easy to transport), then give it a good shake before you add it to your salad. My tried and true recipe is this creamy Caesar dressing, if you’re looking for something a little different, try these mustard-based recipes or these fruit and veggie based vinaigrettes.
Instead of limiting your sandwich to lunchmeat, try leftovers!
“Instead of lunchmeat for your sandwich, taco or wrap, which are mostly high in sodium and preservatives, use leftovers–grilled fish, rotisserie chicken, canned tuna, smashed beans or hummus. Frozen food can also do the trick, this easy, vegan taco recipe using Luvo’s Mighty Masala bowl is sure to satisfy.” –Bridget Swinney MS, RD
Instead of a plain garden salad, pack a salad that boosts satiety!
“Without any source of protein or healthy fats, you won’t be full or satisfied. Instead you’ll find yourself reaching for more food in just an hour or two. Consider a salad that is loaded with lean protein like salmon, chicken, tuna, beans or lentils and include some healthy fat like avocados or nuts.” Brynn McDowell at The Domestic Dietitian
Instead of packing one vegetable and fruit, pack two!
That’s right, pack more than one serving of fruits and vegetables in your lunch. As a whole, we struggle getting our daily recommended servings of these nutrition powerhouses, so why not use your lunch as a winning way to meet your quota? Veggie sticks are easy and with the right dip (think guacamole, hummus or tzatziki), are enjoyable and fun. Cut up seasonal fruit and make a beautiful parfait. Eating the rainbow can be beautiful and delicious! If you’re not sure what 1 full serving looks like, read this.
And as always, don’t forget Luvo has a line of delicious foods perfect for curing that lunch-time “hanger”! Each of their bowls take less than 5 minutes to make and always has the right balance of protein, veggies and whole grains.
Which nutritious foods do you love to pack in your lunch? Let us know in the comments section and be sure to sign up for our newsletter for more nutritious tips and exclusive giveaways!