Bringing a healthy lunch to work is so easy if you have the right ingredients in your fridge. I’m not talking about peanut butter and jelly. A well-balanced, adult lunch can take only a few minutes to put together.
The fastest way for me to get out the door in the morning is to pack my lunches the night before. And what’s easier than boxing up your leftovers from dinner? I naturally make too much anyway.
Depending on what you make for dinner, this might not be the cheapest option for your and your family, but I know for myself, it’s a huge timesaver (and it’s certainly cheaper than going out for lunch). However there are many ways to make this just as affordable as a PB&J.
There’s no reason it has to be the exact dinner the night you had before. When I’ve eaten through my protein of the night, I like to add nuts or beans to even out the meal. Taking the grain and vegetable from the meal (which is usually brown rice and kale for me) and adding hearty white beans, or even better, a bean salad, to your lunch makes a big difference.
I’ve packed up leftover pasta in pesto sauce with some extra parsley and greens and transformed it into a lovely pasta salad. I’ve also put cooked veggies (from a big chicken roast) on top of quinoa with a bit of kale. Totally transformed!
The key is to prepare a few lunchtime stables in batches, so you can easily grab a bit during the week. Here are some of my favorites:
- Cooked grains: Double the amount that you would usually make and store the extra portions in the fridge. Quinoa, rice, or millet can be used as a base for meat and vegetables, or they can make a salad more substantial.
- Pasta: Shorter noodles, such as fusilli, conchiglie (shells), and farfalle (bowties), are great warmed up in sauce, tossed into a soup, or transformed into a cold salad. Opt for whole wheat or gluten-free (I love Trader Joe’s rice-quinoa fusilli) for a more wholesome meal. Frozen ravioli and tortellini make a great last minute lunch option.
- Roasted vegetables: This is also a great way to clean out your fridge. Chunks of squash, root vegetables, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts are ideal for grabbing a little or a lot.