As a mom it can be so busy at lunch time that it is easy to just eat leftovers from our children or even worse, skip over lunch altogether. Both of these are easily avoidable if we have a plan! I know that on days that I plan ahead and eat a healthy lunch, I am a better mom to my kids and I have way better energy. I am also more motivated to make healthier choices the rest of the day as I don’t crash in the afternoon. I am hoping that I can provide you with a few suggestions for ways that you can plan ahead and nourish your body midday.
Soup is a great way to eat a filling, yet low-calorie lunch and can be quite quick if you already have it made and portioned in the fridge or freezer. I like to make a big batch once or twice a month and pre-portion it so it is ready to just heat and enjoy. You don’t even need a recipe…just throw in lots of veggies, some vegetable broth or No Salt Added canned tomatoes, beans, leftover chicken and/or diced tofu and let it simmer. You can find a recipe for a soup I made last week in my most recent blog post. Some soups you can even enjoy cold on a hot summer day!
Looking for something less hearty, but loaded with nutrients? Then salads are your answer! Okay, I know this one seems boring and obvious but check out these combination ideas for a new twist on salad.
1) Mixed greens salad with strawberries, pineapple, almonds, and feta cheese with homemade dressing of olive oil and balsamic vinegar mix.
2) Greek salad with romaine lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, black olives, peppers, diced feta, and a homemade dressing of olive oil, Greek seasoning, and black olive tapenade.
3) Spinach salad with mushrooms, hard-boiled egg, baby tomatoes, and cheddar cheese with homemade honey mustard dressing.
4) Kale salad with avocado, cucumber, tomato, and pine nuts with Renee’s low fat Caesar salad dressing.
5) Mediterranean salad with spinach, roasted red peppers, sun dried tomatoes, roasted artichokes, green olives, and roasted garlic pods. Use the oils that the vegetables have been marinated in for dressing.
6) Mixed greens with snap peas, baby tomatoes, broccoli pieces, and diced chicken with poppy seed dressing.
7) Cut up veggies and cottage cheese for a dip. Use veggies that can easily scoop such as cucumbers slices, large chunks of peppers, celery, and sliced mushrooms.
8) Spinach with roasted beets, mandarin oranges, and goat cheese with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. (This one is great for the day after you served roasted beets at supper time.)
These can be eaten on their own or paired with a whole grain choice such as whole grain crackers, toast, or wrap.
Preparation is key for success with salads. Try getting the ingredients ready at some point in the week so that lack of time doesn’t prevent you from these healthy options. For example, cut vegetables, hard boil eggs, shred cheese, etc. Also, try to make extra of any lean protein from supper that you can add-on easily. Here are a few suggestions for prepping ahead of time:
1. Saturday or Sunday afternoon – preparing all vegetables for the week and placing in a Tupperware.
2. When you are preparing supper each night bring out vegetables that you may want cut up for the next day and do them then when you are already in the kitchen and have knives and cutting boards out etc.
3. If you have school children in your home that you prepare lunches for at night, then you could also make yours for the next day at that time…even if you will be home for lunch.
If you prefer a heartier lunch, here are a few quick, easy, and healthy choices you could try.
1. Whole grain wrap with natural peanut butter or almond butter, a sprinkle of hemp hearts, and sliced apple or banana.
2. Homemade banana muffin with almonds and sliced apples.
3. Steel cut oats with Greek yogurt and berries. This seems like more of a breakfast, but can certainly be a lunch as well.
4. 3-4 scrambled egg whites served with avocado, tomato, and whole grain crackers or wrap.
Add some cut up veggies on the side to any of these or pack more vegetables into your snacks and supper if they are missing from lunch.
When deciding on portions, everyone is a bit different. Ideally we leave a meal feeling satisfied, but planning to eat again in 2-3 hours. If you find that you eat lunch at noon and you are looking for a snack around 2:30 that is a good thing! Hunger sometimes gets a bad reputation but it is actually a sign of a good metabolism. Again, the key here is planning. Have an apple and some almonds or a mix of Greek yogurt and berries ready to go for when that mid-afternoon hunger strikes!
I hope this provides you with some inspiration for making lunch fun and enjoyable without cutting too much into your time budget! Thanks for reading!!!
Noelle Martin is a mom and a Registered Dietitian. She has four-year old twin boys and a one year old son. Prior to becoming a mom, she had a Private Practice where she counselled people of all ages. Her specialty? Making healthy food fun and focussing on a positive relationship with food and our bodies. Now that she is a mom, she combines her expertise as an RD, with real life experience to offer you information, advice, recipes, and practical solutions that she also uses. Over the past five years, she has dealt with infertility, IVF, a twin pregnancy, breastfeeding twins, a singleton pregnancy (while still breastfeeding twins), breastfeeding one baby, infant allergies and intolerance, weight gain and weight loss, and picky eaters. You can find her on instagram (@mealsformeandmyminis
) or her blog: mealsformeandmyminis.wordpress.com