Healthy meals doesn't have to be complicated to be delicious and nutritious.
I get it, even when I do have the time to make an elaborate lunch, I never want to. There's something about lunch that I want it to be quick, easy, and nutritious.
Having a homemade lunch doesn't have to be complicated. If you are prepared with groceries, you can have a balanced homemade lunch in less time than it takes to order takeout!
For some reason, even when I have the time to make a more elaborate lunch, I never want to. I always want something that is fairly quick and on most days, packs a lot of nutrition.
By making your own lunch instead of going out to eat, you have more control over your food and the ingredients used to make your meal. Restaurants main goal is to make their food taste good and for you to want to come back. Your health is unfortunately not a factor when choosing the types of foods and cooking methods to use. Don't get me wrong - I love going out to eat and sometimes there's no way you could make me cook another meal at home. However, on the day to day, cooking at home can significantly improve your nutrition.
Homemade lunch doesn't have to be complicated, elaborate, or take a lot of time. When looking for an easy, healthy meal to make there are a 4 things that I try and make sure to include.
4 components of a healthy lunch
- Protein source
- Examples: chicken, turkey, fish, tofu, tempeh, edamame, beans, nuts, hummus, hemp seeds etc.
- Grain or starchy vegetable
- Examples: quinoa, brown rice, bread, crackers, pasta, potato, peas, corn, etc.
- Healthy fat
- Examples: avocado, olive oil, nuts, flax seed, chia seed, hemp seeds, hummus
- Fruits and/or veggies
- Any fruit or vegetable
- You may notice there are some overlap with the foods listed above. Some foods contain more than of of the macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats). For example, nuts contain both protein and fat. When thinking about building meals, it is ok to count the nuts to either one of those food groups.
Lunch Ideas That are Ready in 5 Minutes or Less
Ultimate Veggie Sandwich
Protein: chicken + hummus
Grain: whole grain bread
Vegetables: spinach + tomato + shredded carrots + cucumber
Instructions: spread hummus on 1 slice of whole grain bread, next add sliced/mashed avocado, then layer on all the veggies you want, add chicken and top with the second slice of whole grain bread.
Almond Butter (or Peanut Butter) & Banana Sandwich
Protein: almond/peanut butter
Grain: whole grain bread
Fat: almond/peanut butter
Instructions: Add nut butter of choice to 2 pieces of whole grain bread, add sliced bananas and enjoy! Feel free to change up the type of fruit used. You can try sliced strawberries, mashed blueberries, raspberries, etc. You can also play around with adding cinnamon or some extra flavor.
- Whole grain bread recommendations: Dave's Killer Bread (sold at pretty much all grocery stores and sometimes Costco); Food for Life Ezekiel bread; Canyon Bakehouse for a gluten free option
Quinoa, Apple, and Walnut Salad
Protein: quinoa & walnuts
Fruit & vegetable: mixed greens, apple & cranberries
Fat: olive oil
Instructions: start with some mixed greens, add ~¼th cup quinoa, ¼th an apple (chopped), 1-2 tablespoons dried cranberries, small handful of walnuts and toss with lemon and olive oil!
Grain: naan or pita
Vegetables: cucumber, tomatoes, onion
Instructions: start with a piece of naan or pita bread. Spread on the hummus and then add quartered cherry tomatoes, chopped cucumber, feta, and diced red onion.