In years past I used to spend a lot of money on grabbing lunch during the day. We have a lot of convenient options by work and I enjoyed a brief break during the day when I could take a breather from the building. But, going out for lunch really adds up both in dollars and calories! This year, I have done a great job preparing for weekly lunches on Sundays and/or the night before. I am not a huge fan of the meal prep phenomenon, but that is because I am more free form in my approach to life and therefore in my cooking. So, I like to have things on hand, but not necessarily assembled because I will likely get tired of eating the same thing in the same way.
I enjoy taking one day to shop for my basic lunch essentials as this allows me to have a reduced level of stress during the week and I am more likely to make healthy choices (and save my pennies).
My basic Sunday shopping list:
- English cucumber
- Greens (arugula, romaine, or kale)
- Sweet potatoes
- Apples (jazz or honey crisp are my favorites)
- Organic eggs
- Organic Tuna (a recent obsession)
- Sparkling water
- Something naughty (because I believe we have to) – this week it was tortilla chips
Whoa. This list looks really healthy! And truth be told, I really do enjoy making and eating very nutrient dense lunches (mainly because it frees me up for other indulgences). I also rely on some pantry staples: lentils, vinegar, and olive oil. When buying any proteins, I really have been trying to focus on organic/wild caught products and have noticed that my former meatless challenge really has inspired me to eat less meat (although I am by no means a vegetarian). I know, I know that the rest of my list isn’t organic, but I am only human, people!
I do not do a complete meal prep is because sometimes I like to change the way I eat and cook the same foods. For example, tomorrow I will toss my boiled, brown lentils in a homemade vinaigrette (lemon juice, olive oil, dijon, salt, and pepper) and toss that with some chopped, raw kale and vegetables. On top you’ll find Trader Joe’s Organic Tuna that I mixed with fresh dill, lemon juice, and olive oil. I’ll throw in an apple and water and I’m set! As I look into my food crystal ball, I foresee a baked sweet potato in my week topped with some ghee (YUM) and I think I’ll change up the raw broccoli and cook that up with some of the kale and lentils with a spicy kick (probably some red chili flake and garlic). It’s all about keeping my palette and eyes excited. As I wrote the word “excited,” I also thought of making a lentil soup with the lentils and kale for when it gets chilly again. Gosh, I’m on top of it right now!
The only “prep” I do is making sure my ingredients are more or less ready to assemble. For example, I boil 3-4 eggs to keep on hand and slice my radishes and keep them covered in water to make sure they are ready to go and are super crisp. The broccoli will be cut and a vinaigrette will be assembled in minutes in a mason jar. This is how I not only save some time, but it makes getting my lunch ready super easy.
Now, I will probably go out to dinner at least once this week to catch up with some girlfriends and I am certain that I will be enjoying some sushi and fries (because I never turn down a fry) at some point. So, eating light during the day allows me to reduce the guilt factor and enjoy some of my guilty pleasures (did I mention chips and salsa?).
I encourage you to have fun with your Sunday shopping lists and weekday lunches! Feel free to share some of your favorite tips in the comments!