I’m always looking for easy, healthy lunch ideas so that I don’t cave in to fat-and-sugar-laden convenience foods. I want to nourish my body with whole grains, vegetables, and natural ingredients. And I want to avoid artificial additives that could increase my risk of developing cancer. Oh yeah, and I’m busy so I need lunch to be quick and easy too. Sound familiar? After a couple weeks of snacking for lunch, I decided it was time for a change. So, I came up with a new system that makes it easy for me to put together a healthy lunch every day, no matter how busy I am. Today I’m sharing that simple system with you, along with my favorite easy, healthy lunch ideas.
Step One – Plan and Prepare
Like meal planning for dinner, planning and preparation is the key to healthy lunch choices. Notice I said CHOICES. I’m not one of those people who can eat the same thing every day. So my system allows for variety. First, on your weekly shopping trip, purchase these items:
- Salad mix
- Frozen vegetables
- SMARTMADE ™ by SmartOnes (R)
- Whole Wheat Bread and/or Tortillas
- Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- Bacon or Turkey Bacon
- Brown Rice
Next, prepare these items (using some of the ingredients from above) before the week begins:
- Hard boiled eggs
- Grilled boneless, skinless chicken breasts sliced into thin strips
- Brown rice
I make all of the above items at once. While I make the bacon on the griddle, I use all four burners. On the first burner I boil the eggs. On another, I grill the chicken breasts in my grill pan. On the other two burners, I have pans for the rice and quinoa. After all of the items are cooked, I let them cool and then place them in storage containers in the refrigerator.
Step Two – Mix and Match
You can enjoy a different lunch dish every day of the week using the short list of items in step one.
This is my hands-down favorite sandwich (it even inspired this appetizer recipe!). Pull out a few pieces of cooked bacon to make a B.L.T. I use the salad mix for the lettuce and sometimes add some avocado slices.
Veggie Hummus Wrap
Spread some hummus on a whole-wheat tortilla. Add some of the salad mix. If you want some protein, add sliced hard-boiled eggs or some of the grilled chicken slices. This is my teen daughter’s favorite easy, healthy lunch idea.
Chicken Teriyaki Bowl
In a microwave-safe bowl, combine frozen broccoli, cooked brown rice, and grilled chicken slices and heat for 2-3 minutes. In a condiment bowl, combine 1-2 tablespoons of soy sauce with 1 tablespoon of honey and 1 teaspoon of rice vinegar to make your own teriyaki sauce. Pour the sauce over the bowl and enjoy!
Make a Cobb salad with the salad mix, sliced hard-boiled eggs, bacon, tomato, and avocado. I like chicken on my salad so I always throw a couple of slices on mine. If you aren’t on a dairy-free diet, a little blue cheese sprinkled on top is delicious! To keep it healthy, use a flavorful vinaigrette in lieu of a creamy dressing.
No matter how well I try to plan ahead, life sometimes interferes with my great intentions. Sometimes we go through all of our prepared items mid-week. Other times, we end up using our prepared items at other meals. That means, by the end of the week, we’re at risk of making unhealthy choices for the sake of convenience. No matter how many easy, healthy lunch ideas you have, they’re no good without the ingredients! Since I know we almost always opt for convenience, I plan for that by stocking up on SMARTMADE meals. Unlike other frozen entrees, SMARTMADE products are made with nutrient-rich ingredients. Seriously, read the labels. You’ll be delightfully surprised that you recognize all of the ingredients since you probably have them in your own pantry and refrigerator. It’s the next best thing to making the dishes yourself and the meals are a more affordable alternative to eating out. There are over a dozen SMARTMADE meals to choose from but these are three of my favorites:
The Mexican-Style Chicken Bowl is amazing! And it’s similar to one of my family’s favorite homemade dinner recipes. It’s made with real grilled white meat chicken, roasted corn and red peppers, and it’s completely free of artificial flavors and preservatives. These meals are made with the same cooking techniques I use when I make similar dishes, and you CAN taste the difference.