Eating healthy is an increasingly popular goal and while eating healthy at all meals is important to an overall balanced diet, lunch is a meal that is sometimes difficult to prepare for and often skipped. The busier a person is at work or at home, the harder it can be to fit a healthy lunch into their schedule. Packing lunches for work or for school is sometimes done with less attention than other meal planning and it’s often easier to grab lunch on the go, even if it ends up being a less than healthy choice. To round out healthy eating habits, plan or pack a healthy lunch ahead of time and consider these healthy lunch ideas.
Packing a lunch for work or school depends largely on available storage and preparation options. While workers may enjoy the convenience of a refrigerator and microwave at their office, school children do not have this luxury. Since many kids are picky eaters and won’t always eat the lunches prepared in their school cafeteria, parents need to help their kids meet daily dietary guidelines by providing healthy foods.
Some healthy lunch ideas for packers include fresh fruits or vegetables that do not spoil at room temperature. Whole apples, bananas, carrot and celery sticks are good choices. Peanut butter on whole or multi-grain bread or spread onto celery will satisfy protein requirements but won’t spoil without refrigeration like deli meats. Prepackaged cereal or granola bars make healthy dessert options. To wash it all down, pack water or low-calorie fruit juices or encourage your children to buy milk at school.
For packers who have access to refrigerators and microwaves, healthy lunch ideas become much more versatile, but still need to be quick. Yogurt and cottage cheese are good choices for dairy intake and require no preparation. A salad prepared ahead of time with chopped vegetables and even cooked chicken or eggs is another healthy lunch idea that is quick to eat. If you prefer a hot lunch, try low-calorie, ready to microwave soups. Those who are also concerned about calorie intake can drink water with their lunch to increase their feeling of fullness without adding calories.
If you are able to be home at lunch, you can prepare any of these healthy lunch ideas as well as a few others. Deli meats and cheeses served on multi-grain crackers with a side of pretzels, rather than chips, make a healthy lunch choice, as well as steamed vegetables and whole grain rice or pasta.
Even though lunch needs to be quick most days, skipping lunch or stopping at the nearest drive-through or convenience store is not a healthy option. Healthy eating doesn’t have to be sacrificed because of time constraints if you plan ahead and use the same healthy judgments you apply to other meals. Besides being better for your health, there are other advantages to planning and implementing healthy lunch ideas including having more energy throughout the day and saving money over eating out.