Sandwiches have long been a lunchtime staple in the western world. They can be found at lunch tables in schools and in break rooms at major corporations. Most people start eating sandwiches at lunch when they are children and never break the habit in adulthood.
It’s easy to just take two pieces of bread, put something in between, and take it to work. There are healthier options, however, and you owe it to yourself to put in a little extra work and enjoy a lunch that is more satisfying than the typical sandwich. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to break the sandwich cycle and open your mind to a new world of tasty and healthy lunch options.
1. Buy Fresh Ingredients
A slice of bologna and a piece of cheese between two pieces of white bread isn’t the healthiest lunch. In fact, it barely has any nutritional value at all. The lunchmeat is overloaded with sodium, and the white flour in the bread contains a negligible amount of vitamins and nutrients.
Instead of settling for the sandwich, plan a trip to the grocery store on a Saturday. Stock your pantry and refrigerator with fresh and organic food. Buy fresh fruits and vegetables, and lean cuts of meat. Also, buy some brown rice and whole wheat tortillas. Avoid processed and prepackaged foods. If you make sure that your home is filled with the right foods, you are much less likely to eat an unhealthy sandwich.
2. Invest in Tupperware
There have been huge advancements in Tupperware over the last few years. They have developed containers for nearly every type of food. Tupperware is an indispensible tool in the fight to pack healthy lunches.
A set of Tupperware is well worth the investment. It will keep your lunch fresh as you wait the long morning hours between arriving to work and lunchtime. Also, Tupperware is microwave-safe and it is much more versatile than the old brown paper bag.
3. Cook Ingredients in Advance
Homemade lunches can seem daunting when one thinks of the time it takes to prepare them compared to the time it takes to make a sandwich. Very few people have time during the week to get up early in the morning and grill chicken or boil rice before they go to work. Luckily, you now have Tupperware.
On Sunday night, cook all of the meat you will need for the week and boil a large pot of brown rice. If you are really strapped for time in the morning, you can sauté vegetables as well. This will allow you to mix and match your protein, rice and vegetables for the entire week.
4. Make a Balanced Lunch
Lunch is a very important meal. It needs to have enough nutritional value to get you through the rest of the workday without experiencing the dreaded 2 p.m. crash. A balanced lunch will keep you performing at a top level for the entire afternoon.
Try to include each of the following; proteins, fruits, veggies, nuts, and whole grains. This combination will ensure that you are getting the proper amounts of protein, fiber, essential vitamins, good carbohydrates, good fats, and good sugars.
5. Make it Visually Appealing
Colors send important signals to the brain, and some are much more appealing than others. A chicken sandwich on white bread does not have much visual appeal, but a container filled with shredded chicken, red peppers, baby spinach, yellow squash, and carrots is a cornucopia of colors. Nutritionists agree that a variety of colors in your diet also means a variety of vital nutrients and vitamins. Colorful lunches will make you healthier and happier.
6. An Example to Get You Started
When thinking of healthy lunch ideas, it’s important to make sure the foods come from a variety of food groups and are nutrient-dense. One of the best lunches for achieving all of these goals is the chicken wrap. Start with a healthy tortilla. Veggie wraps are nice because they are healthy and they are a bright shade of green. Then add grilled chicken. It can be shredded or chopped.
Here’s where you can get creative: add all the vegetables you like. I typically use sliced red peppers, baby spinach, and steamed carrots. You can also top it off with small amounts of natural brown rice and organic cheese. This makes a healthy and delicious lunch.
The example above is just one healthy lunch option. I encourage you to experiment with different combinations. As long as you make lunches that are balanced and full of protein, nutrients, and vitamins, then you will be healthy and happy.