Do you have a ‘go-to’ lunch? Something that you either make or buy because it’s easy or it’s there? Even if you had the same thing yesterday, and the day before that? Lunch tends to be one of the meals where we fall into the trap of having the same thing over and over again. For years, my husband had the same ham, cheese and salad cream sandwich every.single.day. Believe me, I spent AGES trying to point out why this wasn’t doing him any favours. Thankfully he’s now broadened out his repertoire slightly!
I’m not a fan of cutting out wheat, gluten, or any food group for that matter – people are too quick to do that these days, and without the right advice or guidance it can mean that you end up depriving your body of some of the nutrients that it so desperately needs. But I do think that it’s important to listen to your body, to make healthy choices and make sure that you’re eating a range of different foods for the variety of nutrients that they give you. And if you eat the same sandwich for lunch day in, day out, you’re not going to be doing that, are you? So what’s the alternative?
I’m glad you asked… I’m in the process my 4 week healthy eating programme which helps people embed healthy practices into their lifestyle (and gives 4 weeks of tasty recipes too!) and I thought I’d share 4 top tips to help you make your lunch break a little less monotonous without having to get up an hour earlier every day.
1. Make a week of lunches in one hit
Yes, this does take a little bit of forward thinking, but not a huge amount of effort. I like to use an hour or so on a Sunday to cook up a batch of stew or soup that will keep in the fridge or freezer. Ta da! Healthy ready meals for lunch and dinner during the week! I tend to make a couple of different soups at the same time, so I mix up the flavours and avoid a soup-rut, plus it means that I’m doing one lot of veg chopping at a time! You could try making my Sweet Moroccan Stew for a great reheatable lunch option. Or you could try this gorgeously creamy sweet potato and carrot soup from Madeleine Shaw which has a lovely autumnal feel to it!
2. Use the time you’re in the kitchen anyway…
Hopefully you cook something, however big or small, in your kitchen at least once a day? If you’ve planned ahead with your lunches, you’ll know whether you need to prep things in advance. So, for example, I use the time while dinner is cooking to chop extra salad veg, cook an extra couple of chicken breasts, roast up a heap of veg, or just start to assemble something in a lunch box. Chopping up crudites is always a good use of time too! Let’s imagine that you’ve made up extra veg with your dinner… you might be able to combine it with an express pouch of grains to make something like my Mediterranean-inspired roasted veg salad. Or use your veg with a bag of salad leaves and some ready cooked lentils or chicken to build your own colourful salad with limited chopping!
3. Quick and easy grab n’ go
Don’t feel that lunch has to be something that’s immaculately pulled together! I have quite often been known to throw some salad veg in a tub, grab a pack of oat cakes or a few Ryvita and the tub of cottage cheese or cream cheese. Protein, check. Veggies, check. Slow release carbs, check. And bonus points if you can add in a handful of almonds or half an avo for some good fats.
4. Shop bought health-friendly options
Everyone has days where your lunch is going to be shop bought. Luckily there are some reasonably healthy options in most supermarkets or high street shops these days – I like the M&S and Waitrose healthy ranges and think the new superbowl salads from Pret are pretty good . In my programme, I share details of how to read labels to help make healthy choices – but a general rule is to check the sugar and saturated fat levels. Are you getting a good balance of protein, healthy carbs and healthy fat? How can you add an extra portion or two of fruit or veg to your choice?
I’d love to hear whether you use these tips to help get you out of a lunch time rut… Head over to my Facebook group and let me know what your favourite lunch is!
To find out more about the programme, and other ways I can help you, visit www.nutri-belle.co.uk