Whether you're trying to make some healthy lifestyle changes or you just need to cut back on your budget for eating out at lunch, bringing your own food to work can be a great way to accomplish either goal. It can seem like a pain to prep your lunch at home beforehand, but there are actually some tricks that can make it much easier to enjoy a filling and flavorful lunch at work. If you want some healthy lunch ideas that are easy to make and easy on your wallet, check out these healthy lunch foods and tips for making your new habit of bringing your own lunch to work stick.
Fun Twists on the Typical Sandwich
One of the fastest ways to get sick of bringing your own lunch to work is to have a sandwich every day. While it might be a refreshing change at first, you'll get bored of this routine quickly and be tempted once again to opt for fast food instead.
A great way to change things up is to find new ways to enjoy sandwich fillings without your standard bread to hold everything together. For example, you could use healthy whole wheat wraps for a delicious turkey and avocado roll-up. Large pieces of crunchy greens can make tasty lettuce wraps, or you can cut bell peppers in half and use the shells as a tasty vessel for fun lunch fixings like chicken or tuna salad.
In addition to swapping out the bread for something healthier, make sure you're making sensible choices when it comes to sandwich fillings. Get fresh deli meat instead of the packaged varieties packed with preservatives. Add more vegetables instead of cheese, and swap your mayonnaise for mustard, hummus, olive tapenade, pesto, nut butter or Greek yogurt.
Meal Prep in Batches
If you want an easy way to streamline your lunches for the work week, take some time to meal prep over the weekend. All you need is five reusable containers (one for each day Monday through Friday) and a few recipes and you'll be all set for a week of healthy lunches. This is best for people who like to plan their meals out ahead of time and who don't mind eating the same thing for lunch every day.
A version of the "grain bowl" is easiest when trying to meal prep for your weekly lunches. Basically, these bowls consist of some type of grain (preferably a healthy option like brown rice, quinoa or shirataki noodles) topped with other ingredients that can all be mixed up and eaten together. For example, you could make a big batch of quinoa and place a cup or two into each of your lunch containers. Then, top that with chopped veggies; great options include cherry tomatoes, cucumber, onion, carrots, asparagus, broccoli and cauliflower. You can also consider some hearty additions to make your bowl more filling, like grilled chicken, turkey meatballs, sweet potatoes, hard boiled eggs or chickpeas. Portion out everything so you have a pre-made lunch ready to go each afternoon. Consider bringing along a tasty dressing if you want to add more flavor while eating.
The grain bowl makes a great lunch, but it's far from the only option for meal prepping. You can also prep tasty salads with lots of fresh greens and fruit, big batches of filling for lettuce wraps or a delicious soup to enjoy throughout the week.
Make it at Work
If the thing that's holding you back from healthy lunches at work is the effort of making your food ahead of time, find ways to put together a healthy meal in minutes right in your work kitchen. Instead of meal prepping over the weekend or getting up early in the morning to make a lunch, you just need to stock some fixings for healthy lunch options at your office. Even if you only have access to a refrigerator and a microwave, that's all you need to make a tasty lunch that's much better for you than takeout.
Stock some frozen veggie burgers or grilled chicken strips in your fridge along with a bag of salad mix (pre-chopped lettuce and veggies) and a healthy salad dressing. Heat up a burger or a few pieces of chicken in the microwave, then toss it in a bowl of salad mix and top with a delicious dressing. In just a few minutes, you have a filling, flavorful salad that's just as good as something you'd get at a restaurant. Another option is to buy a few containers of healthy soup to stock your work fridge. Heat up a bowl and pair with a fresh salad or some toasted whole wheat pita. These options are easy to put together and won't require any extra effort outside of work besides picking up a few ingredients at the grocery store.
Try these tips to make your lunches at work healthier, more flavorful and more filling. Once you get into the routine of making your own lunches, you'll be much less tempted by quick fixes like fast food.