As fall approaches, there are many changes in your everyday life. For one, the weather is cooling off, which may be a welcomed treat if you live somewhere that reaches unbearable temperatures in the summer. Fall is also when students head back to school, whether it be off to a university or back to the elementary school down the block. This year, many people have also heard the promise of a return to the office this fall. If you are a student or a soon-to-be in office, one of the questions you may be asking yourself is, “What should I bring to eat for lunch?” While you can eat breakfast and dinner at home, it can be hard to do so for many. Keep that summer bod you worked so hard for by trying out one of these five healthy lunches, which are conveniently easy to meal prep and bring to work or school.
1. Protein-packed salad
We know what you’re thinking - you’ve tried to bring salad for lunch before and you weren’t satisfied. Maybe after an hour or two, you gave into cravings and grabbed a bag of chips from the break room. Well, that’s why you need to try a protein-packed salad. Lettuce alone won’t fill you up, but add in some protein, and you’ll feel full until you get home for dinner.
Some great protein options for a salad are grilled chicken, chickpeas, walnuts, hard-boiled eggs, and salmon (1). Have you ever ordered salad at a restaurant and wished your salads at home could be as enjoyable? Once you start spicing up your salad with toppings, they can be!
2. Taco Salad in a Jar (2)
Taco salad in a jar is the perfect meal prep. You can have taco night with your family on Tuesday, then prep a few lunches for the week with the leftovers. Not only is this a delicious option, it’s also super easy to pack, and makes cooking clean-up a breeze.
While you can use whichever ingredients you use for taco night in your jar, the healthiest way to make your lunch is by using ground turkey, black beans, corn, green onions, cheese, and tomatoes. You’ll place the ingredients in the jar in layers, starting with the turkey and ending with tomatoes. This will prevent unwanted tomato squishing, plus it makes this lunch look aesthetically appealing.
3. Veggie Burger
If we’re being realistic, we need to consider what is convenient. On some days, you won’t have the time to pack a lunch and you’ll need something quick and easy. A great remedy to this is keeping a pack of frozen veggie burgers in the freezer at work. This way, you’ve got a protein-packed, healthful lunch to fall back on in a pinch. If you’re very prepared, you can keep a pack of buns in the pantry, too, but they also taste great on their own with a little sauce.
Our go-to veggie burger is the MorningStar Farms Veggie Burger (3). This burger is under 300 calories, yet still provides 27 grams of protein. You’ll certainly be satisfied until dinner.
We’ve all been there - your coworker suggests going out for lunch, and you don’t want to miss out. Just because you’re going out to lunch, it doesn’t mean you have to eat something unhealthy. Try suggesting Chipotle so you can get a nutrient-packed bowl. Chipotle notoriously provides huge servings, so you can even save half for your dinner later that night.
The easiest way to analyze your order is by using their nutrition calculator. If you aim for a certain balance of macros in your diet, you can make sure you’re reaching your goals (4).
5. Zucchini Pasta with Lemon Garlic Shrimp
There’s nothing wrong with regular pasta, but adding in a serving of vegetables in this tasty way is a great idea. This recipe from Downshiftology (5) is easily replicated and is delicious. The only issue? You might have coworkers asking you to make their lunches, too, when they smell the lemony-garlic aroma.