If you work outside the home and struggle with eating foods that support your dietary needs and goals, the question “what’s for lunch” borders on obsession: What is easy to make? Healthy? Fast? Isn't boring? Saves money? Stormy Sweitzer, owner of Maoomba.com, the Real Food for Active Lives blog, and author of Paleo Power Lunch: Easy, Filling & Delicious Workday Meal Strategies, has some suggestions for you.
Back when I first discovered my numerous food sensitivities – it’s been about 6 years now – I went through what everyone seems to go through when they suddenly can’t or choose not to have food they’re accustomed to eating. Things like disorientation in my kitchen and at the store, frustration with having to learn how to cook all over again, spending hours cooking, and having cravings followed by discomfort and guilt if I ate something I knew I shouldn't.
My biggest struggle, though, was how to eat well away from home during the work day.
I often worked 50-60 hours a week. I always had some running or cycling event I was training for. And, of course, I wanted to spend time with my husband, family and friends enjoying the things we love to do. So food – especially the lunches and snacks I packed – had to be simple, not take a lot of time to prepare, and keep me going throughout the day.
Lunch: No Longer the Forgotten Meal
Planning is essential: At the start of the week, think about what you would like to eat each day. This will not only help you prepare for your meals, it will also help you shop more easily and cook things in a way that allows you to more efficient in the kitchen.
Favourite go-to meal: A Paleo Power Lunch salad. I prepare all of the major ingredients – meat and crudités over the weekend. That means washing the greens, dicing celery, carrots, peppers, and even cooking starchier vegetables like pumpkin and beets. Roasting or grilling meat ahead of time is essential to pulling lunch together quickly – whether you cook it all on one day or have a planned leftovers approach during the week. And, getting creative with salad dressing can make all the difference in how salads taste. Easy to make, flavourful, and less expensive than buying grocery store brands (which of course can have ingredients like sugars, gums, and soy), home-made dressings can add variety to workday meals.
Go-to snacks: Beet or zucchini hummus with raw veggies, whole fruit, a banana with almond butter, hard-boiled eggs, fruit and nut bars, even a can of sardines or tuna are all great options. Keep a stash of non-perishable snacks on hand for emergencies,
Batch it up – crock pot and casserole cooking: Boredom is the enemy of consistency. Eating salad all week, while good for you, can take its toll on your taste buds. To keep things interesting, make batches of foods like soups, stews, and casseroles that you can eat throughout the week. A great strategy is to make enough to freeze lunch-size portions for later. After a few bulk cooking sessions you’ll have a few weeks’ supply of lunches your co-workers will envy.
Not ready to take on batch cooking? Planned leftovers are great options. Just add a little extra food to the pan and then pack it for the next day’s lunch.
Tomorrow Stormy Sweitzer shares a lunch recipe with use from Paleo Power Lunch for a Moroccan lunch and dressing
What’s your favourite workday meal or kitchen strategy for making sure you take lunch each day?