Finding a healthy meal can be difficult when you need something on the go. Then again, finding time in your schedule to prepare something enjoyable can often seem like more work than it’s worth.
So, how do you make healthy eating sustainable? You’ve heard it before – fresh, nutritious options need to be accessible to avoid falling back on a Maccas run (that will ultimately leave you feeling guilty).
But the real key is ensuring you actually like what you’re preparing. There’s no point in trying to force-feed yourself a boring salad if you’d rather reach for the equally accessible burger and chips.
Here are 6 easy tips on building healthy lunchbox options you’ll say yes to every time.
Importance of Snacking
That’s right, snacking is not something to feel guilty about. In fact, snacking is one of the most underrated elements of healthy eating. Preparing nuts, fruit, yogurt, lean protein or cold veggies takes little to no time, yet provides substantial benefits.
Snacking for the Right Reasons
Snacking out of boredom or sadness is not the proper way to snack. When you’re snacking, you’re trying to stave off hunger – that’s it.
Snacking keeps your blood sugar levels steady, provides nutrients, and prevents overeating at your next meal. You have to snack responsibly, though. Snacking on chips, chocolate, sugary or fatty foods won’t keep you feeling fresh and full until your next meal. Pick wholesome foods to stave-off hunger until you can eat your next meal.
You might not have time to plan a lunch for an impromptu trip. Having some nuts, dried fruit and homemade protein balls available is a great way to keep yourself sustained until your next pit stop.
Creating a Healthy, Portable Lunch
If you work in an office, you’ve undoubtedly come across the problem of eating well when your sad-looking salad is up against tasty takeaway alternatives. It becomes much easier to eat a sandwich from a local cafe than it is to prepare lunch for the day.
We feel you. So, how can you work around this dilemma?
Don’t Give Yourself the Option
You could have every intention of eating a healthy meal for lunch, but when it comes time to eat, all you really want is that slice of pizza.
Instead of making a rash decision when your lunch break hits, make it the night before! Don’t give yourself the opportunity to eat an unhealthy meal – plan ahead of time.
Meal preparation is a powerful tool healthy-eaters use to save preparation time and lower calorie intake. Plan your meals for the week, make multiple servings, and bring them with you for lunch.
Once you start planning your meals, deciding what to bring for a portable lunch becomes much easier. On top of that, you’ll save time shopping for ingredients each week, as you’ll already know what you need.
Always Keep Chopped Veggies Around
It’s annoying to chop your vegetables every night for dinner and then all over again the next morning. Instead of preparing your veggies meal by meal, do your chopping in one big batch so you can grab and go for the rest of the week.
This way, you’ll always have fresh, chopped vegetables in your fridge ready to throw into your meal or take to work as snacks.
Marinate, Saute and Season in One Go
You won’t be excited by your food if it’s seasoned with the same flavour everyday. Make at least 3 separate marinades for your meat and veggies. Use separate tins if you have them, but if not, simply line your tray with foil to section off each marinade.
Saute or bake your food in the one go!
Freeze Smoothies and Juices
Fruits and vegetables can easily be blended to make fresh juices and smoothies. With this in mind, consider freezing your fresh drinks so you can easily bring them along with you at the drop of a hat.
Whenever you turn to the juicer or blender to make your drinks, add a few extra ingredients and make double or triple the amount. Then, you can freeze the smoothie or juice and let it thaw a bit while you’re on the go.
When it comes time to eat lunch, you’ll have a healthy, delicious smoothie or juice to compliment your healthy meal.
Tip: For juice ideas, try apple, pear, orange, pineapple or melon as a base. Veggies that sit well in juice include carrot, beetroot, celery and kale. Add ginger for a kick and mint to garnish. For smoothies, consider banana, berries, mango, coconut and passionfruit. Add yogurt, natural nut butter or protein powder if desired.
Go Light on Meat
While lean meat is a fantastic way to get the protein you need, it isn’t the only way. Nuts and some veggies are high in protein as well, so you shouldn’t rely on meat alone.
Try leafy greens, beans, quinoa and hummus for protein-rich alternatives to meat.
Going vegetarian every once in a while will often save you money and lower your calorie intake.
Meat-free options are also better for our environment. We, as a society, tend to eat too much meat. So, bringing a vegetarian option for lunch is an excellent way to spice up your meal preparations.
Veggies in a Jar
Are you turned off portable salads because of those dreaded soggy vegetables at the bottom of your lunchbox? Need a solution for fresh salads all day long? Try chopping up your veggies and popping them in a mason jar (or any jar, really).
Simply put your dressing in the bottom of the jar, add your sturdier veggies like carrots, cucumber and capsicum, followed by lettuce, grains etc. When it comes time to eat, simply shake up your jar for a deliciously crisp salad.
Place your pre-chopped veggies in your jar and store them in a fridge. If you want to make a salad, you can throw all of your ingredients into one jar and bring them with you.
Tip: For a delicious, wholesome salad, use this quick four-step method. Add protein (lean meat, beans, or quinoa), then fruit/veggies (spinach, lettuce, kale, cucumber, tomatoes, strawberries, figs), and finally, dressing (honey mustard, vinegar, citrus). For some extra creaminess, try feta, gorgonzola cheese or avocado.
Healthy Eating Made Easy
It’s essential that you do everything you can to make healthy eating easy on yourself. If you’re just getting started on a diet, don’t give yourself a reason to quit.
If you follow these healthy eating tips, you’ll have lunch and snacks ready for your busiest days. Prepare your lunches before you need them, and you’ll make healthy eating the easiest option.