5 Tips to Make the Most Out of a Real Foods Lunch

Is your lunch an afterthought most days? I can tell you mine used to be, and sometimes still is! BUT, I have enough stocked and prepped real food to make it happen even when I am home and it’s an afterthought.

The biggest obstacle I face, and probably you as well, with lunch when working is getting it prepped and packed with ease. I know for me, if it’s not ready the night before it doesn’t go with me in the hustle the next morning. That can lead to poor choices, and a risk of having to choose a processed food for lunch. Let’s make the most out of our lunch.

Prep your lunch the night before
This is the key to success. This might be in the form of taking a serving of the dinner meal and packaging it up (before serving dinner) into your lunch container. At this time, grab your snacks for the day and pop those on top of the container or in the bag if they don’t need refrigeration.

I always prep the lunches for my son and myself when I am prepping and cooking dinner. I am already into the food, the fridge, and cleaning and washing. So it is easier than starting over again after dinner, or making it an additional step in the crazy morning when we are on the run. I am more likely to skip the lunch meal all together if I don’t do it this way.

Have batched real food components to pull easily into a lunch
This means that you have pre-cooked quinoa for a salad, sliced and prepped lettuce for the salad. You may have pre-cut veggies on Sunday for the week as toppers, same with fruit, and have nuts available to grab.

I love to prep three chicken breasts in the slow cooker at the end of the weekend to use as a protein with my lunch meals, or for my son with his dinner if he doesn’t like our protein of choice (he is a picky protein eater).

Create and make your own dressing
Salad dressing, marinades, dips and similar items are almost always filled with added sugars, chemicals and dyes to prolong shelf life, add flavor or alter texture. These are also among the easiest things to make at home. These can also be pre-made on the weekend for the week and keep well refrigerated. Grab some small containers for dressing and when you prep the salad, add the dressing to a separate container on the side to grab and go.

Get a really great lunch box, containers or bag (or all of them!)
One of the more frustrating things that can happen with real food meals that aren’t at home is transporting them and keeping them fresh. Finding a great lunch bag that is insulated, and holds ice packs well is a must! You will have many items you will want to keep cold in travel, and if you don’t have a personal fridge at work you may need to keep at your desk.

Your kids lunches will need the same. I love lunch boxes that have compartments so it keeps the foods separated, but there is still enough room to pack a dressing or dip container. We love the Planetbox brand. It is an investment, but they hold up and are worth the money. When you buy cheap plastic it needs to be replaced frequently. My son’s Planetbox is going strong since Kindergarten (now 2nd grade) when I gave up with plastic (it was broken the first three days of school).

We also love reuseable snack bags. You can buy many ecofriendly brands on amazon.com or through other lunchbox companies. You want them to be chemical free material.

Balance your nutrients at lunch
Having a blend of healthy fat (from dressings), combined with plenty of vegetables, some fruit, some nuts, and a bit of protein and a small carb is best. I love combining quinoa, brown rice, or sweet potatoes with a “salad.” I may or may not have lettuce that day – but I often use that carb as the base of the salad and pile on the veggies and my single serving of a lean protein. A shrimp, or a chicken or even salmon from the dinner the evening before. You want to get some carbs to sustain your energy for the afternoon so you don’t drag at 3 p.m. and start craving more food!

These are simple steps to making a real food lunch happen, and making it healthy and balanced. If you don’t know what to put in the box to begin with or what items are real food to start cooking/packing your lunch, pop on over here to read about real food, or grab your 5 Steps to DIY Real Food Cooking here.


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