Top Ways to Bag a Healthier Lunch
by Tracey Pollack
What’s for lunch? Rather than head to the greasy take-out joint or send kids to the school cafeteria, have a lunch that’s worth looking forward to by packing your lunches at home. By making and taking your lunches, you can stay in control of your portions and select better ingredients to maintain a healthy lifestyle. With these six tasty tips, a healthier lunch is in the bag!
- Strike a Balance
Between busy days and crazy demands, packing a healthy and satisfying lunch is a real balancing act. See, the secret to feeling full and focused all throughout the day is eating the proper balance of protein, complex carbs and healthy fats. When your lunches include this mix of nutrients, you’ll make your meals more enjoyable, meet your nutritional needs and have the stamina you need to stay energized until dinner.
- Satisfy Your Need for Protein
Protein is the secret to feeling satisfied longer and powering through your day. If your lunches are light on protein, you’ll be starving, sluggish and snacking all afternoon. To pack protein into your lunches, choose leaner meats, such as chicken breast, turkey, canned tuna, fresh fish, lean beef, and pork tenderloin. Or go meat-free with beans, hard-boiled eggs, low-fat cheeses and yogurts, nuts, tofu, and seitan. When there’s little time for lunch, fuel your day with filling protein by packing something portable like clean protein shakes and healthy protein bars.
- Freshen Your Daily Bread
If you’re one of the many that love their sandwiches, liven up your usual loaf with the variety of wholesome breads available today. From rolls and buns, to pitas and English muffins, the different tastes and shapes can really shape up your standard sandwich. No matter how you slice it, just be sure to choose whole-grain or sprouted-grain breads, which are packed with filling fiber and many essential nutrients. To go against the grain, feel free to use grain-free, gluten-free breads, or try stacking your sandwich on Portobello mushrooms, sweet potato slices, or grilled eggplant slabs.
- Put a New Spin on the Same Old Sandwich
Wrap up a satisfying sandwich in a wholesome, whole new way by rolling your ‘wich in a wrap. These tortillas and thin flatbreads let you load up on lean fillings, along with lots of fruits and veggies. Wraps can be found in different flavors, just be sure they’re made from healthy whole grains. Given up on gluten or living a low-carb lifestyle? Get creative by using lettuce leaves, collard greens, or nori seaweed sheets to wrap up a filling, fuss-free lunch.
- Brighten Up Your Day
Add some color to a dull, dreary day by packing midday meals with a rainbow of fruits and vegetables. It can be hard to eat enough vitamin-packed produce, so lunchtime is the perfect time to add lots of colorful crunch. Toss a salad full of spinach, carrots, broccoli, grapes and berries. Top a sandwich with tomato, carrots, cucumbers, pears or figs. Slather apples and bananas with nut butters, or dip bell peppers and snap peas in hummus. When you’re trying to eat healthier, freshening up your lunch with all kinds of fruits and vegetables is a really bright idea.
- Go Right for the Leftovers
Turn last night’s healthy dinner into today’s hearty lunch by packing your lunch bag with leftovers. Turning leftovers into lunch is a time-saving trick that takes the work and the worry out of making midday meals. Rather than just a repeat of last night’s dinner, turn your leftovers into fresh and fun new dishes. Shred grilled chicken up for tacos. Chop sweet potatoes for a salad. Or, use leftover quinoa to build your own healthy grain bowls.
Help yourself to these healthy tips for making a lunch that packs a punch.