Sitting down to a healthy lunch gives you a chance to refocus and refuel during a busy day. If you think you don’t have the time to pack your own, rethink with this strategy! All you need is 30 to 60 minutes on the weekend to prep healthy lunches for the week. Use this simple formula for endless healthy lunch bowl combos.
1. Prep your ingredients
Before assembling your bowls for the week, cook up batches of protein, grains and veggies (see the suggestions below). Or use whatever leftovers you have from dinner. Also, make sure you’re well-equipped. For a grab-and-go lunch bowl, you’ll need bowls with tight-fitting lids or airtight containers. You can also use a glass jar with a screw-top lid. Regardless of the type of container you use, you’ll want to layer heavier, sturdy ingredients like whole grains or vegetables like broccoli or cauliflower on the bottom, while more delicate ingredients like greens, tomatoes or avocado slices should go near the top of your container.
2. Lay down the whole-grain base
Start with 1/2 cup of cooked whole grains per serving for a satisfying fiber punch. Whole grains soak up flavor from the dressing and add fiber for a lunch that will stick with you for more than a few hours. Here are some to try:
3. Add veggies.
Shoot for 1 cup of vegetables (or 2 cups of leafy greens) in each lunch bowl. You can leave them raw or saute, grill or roast your vegetables. Aim for a variety of these veggies:
–Dark leafy greens (like kale and spinach)
4. Pick a protein
Fill each bowl with 3-4 ounces of lean, cooked protein. Popular choices include:
5. Drizzle it with sauce
The sauce is what really sets the stage for a flavorful lunch bowl — add 2 to 4 tablespoons of sauce per bowl. Keep your sauce or dressing in a separate container, then drizzle and toss when you’re ready to eat! Here are some sauce ideas:
6. Garnish to taste
Not only do the final toppings add flavor and texture, they also make your lunch bowl picture-perfect. Sprinkle these on to taste:
–Shredded or crumbled cheese
–Chopped fresh herbs
(EatingWell is a magazine and website devoted to healthy eating as a way of life. Online at www.eatingwell.com.)