I have a bit of a different type of recipe post for y’all this week! With more and more people returning to work (or even if you’re still quarantined at home), we could all use some easy lunch ideas for work!
These recipes are designed to require minimal preparation, be healthy and balanced, and keep you full throughout the afternoon!
If you’ve been on the hunt for some delicious, easy ideas to take with you to work, then these are for you!
I hope you enjoy!
What Goes into a Balanced Meal?
Anytime I’ve talked with people who want to create a balanced meal, it seems like they know the basics: try to include the main food groups, eat vegetables, something along those lines. And those aren’t incorrect answers, but they’re just limited in perspective.
When creating a balanced meal, it’s so important to consider what you enjoy eating as well. I know for some of you that creates tension or perhaps you’re thinking “well, if you knew the kinds of foods I enjoy, you wouldn’t consider that a balanced meal…” and perhaps that is true. However, an all-or-nothing mentality when it comes to food just makes mealtimes miserable.
You can create meals that you look forward to eating that are also balanced and nutritious. I promise. Here’s what I do my best to include in every meal to make it balanced:
Include all 5 food groups
These components are important for the following reasons:
1) Because carbs are broken down more quickly by the body compared to fats and proteins when you pair them together it keeps you fuller longer! Rather than eating carbs alone (or mostly carbs) which would be broken down and used for energy more quickly, leaving you hungry sooner, pairing your macronutrients (or “macros”) leads to a more satisfying meal.
2) Fiber helps contribute to fullness as well. It is also important for healthy digestion, and most Americans do not get enough!
3) It is important to aim to include all 5 food groups, as each contains different health benefits and a variety of nutrients! If you need a refresher, the five food groups are fruits, vegetables, proteins, dairy/dairy alternatives, and grains. You don’t have to stress about this, truly. If you include 3 or 4 of the food groups instead of 5 but are choosing healthy options and get excited about eating it, that’s a win in my book.
You’ll see in the recipes below that I focused on what sounded good together, and there is always a protein source! As you learn more about your own body’s needs and what makes you feel your best, you’ll be able to tailor meals to your needs.
Now onto the recipes so you can get some ideas and inspiration for how to create your own healthy balanced lunch!
Lunch Ideas to Take to Work
So here we have two boiled eggs for protein, some baby carrots for a veggie, strawberries for fruit, spinach for another veggie (keep in mind veggies and fruits also have fiber!), and walnuts for healthy fats!
With 4/5 food groups, we’re only missing our grain. You could pair some whole-grain crackers with this to add those in! It’s also perfectly fine to just eat this. Really.
As an aside, this salad is delicious with some balsamic vinaigrette.
Here our mandarin oranges are our fruit, our bell peppers and spinach are the veggies, turkey is our protein, whole wheat bread is our grain, and some olive oil mayo might count as our healthy fat. A negligible amount of mayo is used on most of my sandwiches, so some avocado slices or low-fat cheese may work just as well to get some healthy fats in there! Whole wheat bread has a good amount of fiber as well.
Our wraps here serve to check a couple of different boxes at once: grain (whole wheat tortilla), protein (turkey), and veggie (spinach), and our healthy fat (low-fat cream cheese). Not pictured is some more protein from peanut butter that I usually pair with my apples. And of course, the carrots are the other veggie here which adds fiber! The whole wheat tortilla also has fiber.
Last but not least we have low-fat cheese cubes as our healthy fat, and they also are a good source of protein. Strawberries are our fruit, and we have some avocado tuna salad that has protein (tuna + eggs) and healthy fats! The spinach is our veggie and adds fiber as well. Missing here is our grain, so again you could enjoy this with some whole grain crackers, I think they’d taste great with the cheese!
Now It’s Your Turn!
Leave your thoughts below, do you think these are meals that you’d enjoy eating? Do they seem appetizing or boring? What would you add or substitute? Let me know in a comment on this post!
If you create a balanced meal, snap a quick picture, and tag me on Instagram in your stories or post @wellnessforwomanhood. I love to see what you guys are learning and making, it encourages me and others so much on our health journies!