When it comes to important meals, breakfast and dinner get a lot of attention, but let’s not forget our midday meal! In countries such as Spain, lunch is often the largest meal of the day. Even if a large, leisurely lunch doesn’t fit with your workday, making time for a healthy, balanced lunch goes a long way in a healthy day. Today we’re giving you the scoop on lunch (plus some bonus tips and tricks for making easy and delicious lunches!).
We get it, in a busy day it may be tempting to forgo a lunch break and just power through with a few snacks on hand. While balanced snacks can come to the rescue in a pinch, skipping meals is not an ideal long-term plan. By having regularly timed meals, we provide our bodies with enough energy to make it through the day, keeping blood sugar and hormones stable. Skipping meals can slow down the metabolism as your body tries to conserve energy, and may even make it harder to lose weight if you’re trying to. Not only that, but missed meals lead to draggy afternoons and the risk of overeating at your next meal as your body tries to replenish the energy it drained. Looking to avoid that midday crash? Let’s talk lunch!
One of the simplest ways to ensure you have a healthy lunch is to pack your own. Bringing your own lunch is loaded with benefits, including control over ingredients (like salt), portion size, and cost (BYO-lunch is almost always more affordable than eating out). Worried about having time to prep and pack lunch? Fear not, we’re here to help make it easy.
Stock your kitchen
Have some staples that can be quickly thrown together to create a meal, or can even live in an office fridge (if you have access to one) for a last-minute lunch option when needed. Some of our favorites include hard boiled eggs, veggie sticks, hummus, whole grain bread or wraps, and low sodium lunch meats. Don’t end up with a sad sandwich – condiments to the rescue! Different varieties of mustards, vinegars, and items like tahini or guacamole make for tasty spreads that amplify flavor (just be sure to give any labels a peek if you are watching your sodium). If you’re looking for some fun, easy ideas, we love these 10 variations on pita pockets.
Consider preparing a larger portion of dinner than you normally would so that you are sure to have some leftover for future meals. Want to shake up last night’s dinner? Repurpose your meals to create a new lunch. If you prefer more variety, freeze batches of leftovers, that way you always have options on hand!
Pack it right!
One key to making lunch an easy habit is having the right gear. Treat yourself to a few quality storage items that are easy to transport, like these leakproof containers. In the mood for something cool? These fun bento boxes allow you to store multiple items in one container, each food can have it’s own spot! If your workplace or school doesn’t have a place for you to keep your food, invest in thermal containers that can keep foods hot or cold on their own. Looking for a simple container that does it all? Mason jars are one of our favorites – they are easy to tuck into a bag, the eco-friendly glass is fridge and microwave safe, and best of all – they are super affordable! Worried about glass breaking? Check out these silicone mason jar sleeves. The shape of a mason jar also lends itself well to layered or multi-ingredient lunches, like salads or these satisfying buddha bowls (just remember to skip the salt if you are watching your sodium intake).
Ready to make healthy lunch a part of your day? Brook’s Experts are lunch fiends and love to talk food. Head on over to the Expert Channel today to chat tips, ideas, and recipes!
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Reviewed by Emily Matson, MS, RDN
on March 3, 2020. Emily is a Registered Dietitian with her Master's degree in Nutrition from Bastyr University in Kenmore, WA, and is one of our Brook Experts.