February 12, 2018
Whether it’s through school or work, lunch keeps you going throughout a long day. Sometimes though, it feels like it's just too difficult and time consuming to make your own lunch, so we end up buying takeout more than our budgets and waistlines would prefer.
So how to get in the habit of eating a healthy lunch, while still saving time and money? Many people decide to prepare the week’s lunches on Sundays while others allot time each morning. But the easy things like sandwiches and boxed crackers and cheese can get dull. With a little brainstorming and a few suggestions, easy and interesting on-the-go lunches are possible every day of the week.
Get Ready with Reusable Containers
Reusable storage containers are excellent for just about any food, and most brands are now microwaveable and dishwasher safe.
Mason jars are also great for on-the-go meals – just load them up with the ingredients (salad in one dressing in another) and mix them together later. You can find containers in a variety of fun sizes and colours, particularly online, so choose something that will inspire you to use it daily!
Seize the Idea of Salads and Bowls
Despite the reputation salads get for being boring, there’s actually an endless amount of delicious and nutritious ingredients to throw together for a great, quick lunch. Calgary Co-op’s produce section is an excellent place to stock up on your favorite vegetables and other natural mix-ins like seeds and nuts.
Of course, meat can also be added to your favorite veggies to make them into healthy, protein-packed bowls. Whether you like to use real meat or a substitute (such as a delicious black bean burger or soy protein), it can easily be cooked and added to the salads.
Pasta salad is a perfect addition to your meal plan that doesn’t require a lot of time or energy. You just have to cook the pasta and add whatever you want into it such as beans, olives, veggies (or canned extras like artichoke hearts and hearts of palm), or a protein, and then dress it with a light but tasty marinade. while making your own is easy, you can also turn to bottled dressings like Co-op Gold Pure salad dressings which have fewer additives and preservatives.
Don’t Make Boring Sandwiches
Sandwiches have been a staple of lunches for decades, but sometimes the typical turkey and cheese can get boring.
Making sandwiches more interesting starts with the bread. Instead of sliced white, try a pita wrap or look for soft and chewy Balady bread from Calgary bakers Byblos. You can also look for specialty buns to switch things up.
Speaking of wraps, lettuce wraps are the perfect alternative to bread if you’re following a low-carb lifestyle. A chicken Caesar wrap is simple and nutritious and the best part is how easy it is to make it – just cook the chicken to your liking, place it in a lettuce leaf or boat, and add a light Caesar dressing and a couple pinches of grated parmesan.
For those who like sweetness, adding some pomegranate to a chicken and lettuce wrap is an excellent choice. For a healthy adventure, you can switch the mayonnaise and use fat-free Greek yogurt in any sandwich or wrap instead.
Go Crazy with Condiments
When it comes to condiments, sure there’s mustard and mayo, but you can branch out and add something unique like cranberry sauce, hot sauce, pesto, sundried tomato paste or hummus. Adding prepared wasabi paste to an egg salad sandwich filling is also a game changer if you like heat.
Consider Your Crunch
Consider your crunch too: swap lettuce for ultra-thinly sliced apple on a turkey sandwich, add baby spinach or kale instead of iceberg or romaine, or choose alfalfa sprouts or pea shoots.
There are plenty of options for quick lunches that require minimal time and effort. Some require a bit of cooking and others can just be mixed together and thrown in a to-go container. Once you find your on-the-go lunch groove, you’ll be making lunches that are cheaper, healthier, and much tastier than any non-home cooked meals you’d find elsewhere.
Gareth Lukes and Eric Hendry have a bone to pick with store-bought pasta sauces that are supposed to be convenience items.
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The sausage roll. That staple of holiday parties and chilly winter nights.