All too often I see clients struggle with lunch, especially during the work week. The most common reported barriers to packing a healthy lunch are a lack of time, and not knowing what to pack. But what I think is really going on is that the expectation of what a healthy lunch is "supposed" to look like leads us down the path to All-or-Nothing thinking... 'If it's not going to look like those meal prepped lunches on Instagram, then I might as well not even bother". Sound familiar?
The term "meal prep" carries a certain connotation and has set the bar ridiculously high for what preparing for the upcoming week should look like. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for being organized and prepared when it comes to setting yourself up for success. Life gets busy, schedules are tight, and when hunger strikes it's important to have something prepped and ready to go - preventing the inevitable vending machine or fast food run.
However, unless you're a body builder or figure competitor preparing for a competition you do NOT have to slave in the kitchen for hours on Sunday. And you do NOT have to meticulously weigh, measure, and portion out all of your meals into Tupperware for the week in order to be considered "meal prep".
Sometimes creating your weekly menu won't look very structured- and that's OK! The most important thing is having some healthy food options in the house in order to build a balanced lunch... enter the Snack Lunch! A snack lunch is a compilation of random foods that don't necessarily have to make sense together, but when combined check off all of the boxes for a complete meal. The snack lunch is perfect for busy mornings where all you have time to do is toss some stuff in your lunch box and run out the door!
Below you will see the perfect meal planning formula to use when creating your snack lunch, and some ideas for each category to get your creative wheels turning. The options are endless!
Cheese sticks or cheese slices
Mini mozzarella balls
Hard boiled eggs
Crockpot shredded chicken
Tuna, chicken, or egg salad
Nuts (almonds, cashews, pistachios, walnuts)
Sliced bell peppers
Leftover roasted veggies
Clementine or orange wedges
Grains & Starch
Sweet potato fries
Roasted sweet potato
Whole grain crackers
THREE BEAN SALAD
2 cups fresh green beans
1 (15 oz) can cannellini beans
1 (15 oz) can red kidney beans
¼ cup red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
¼ cup olive oil
1/2 tablespoon honey
¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 shallot, minced
Salt & Pepper to taste
1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and set up a large bowl of ice water. Add the green beans to the pot and cook 2-3 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Drain and place the green beans in the ice bath. Drain the green beans.
2. Rinse and drain cannellini and red kidney beans.
3. Whisk the vinegar, mustard and honey in a large bowl. Whisk in the oil until combined. Add the green beans, cannellini beans, kidney beans, basil, parsley and shallot to the bowl and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve.
CHOCOLATE COCONUT ENERGY BITES
1 cup raw pecans
1 cup raw walnuts
1 Tbsp cacao powder
10 medjool dates, pitted
1/4 cup dark chocolate morsels
1/2 tsp coconut oil
1. Soak dates in a bowl of hot water for 10 minutes to soften.
2. Place pecans and walnuts in a food process and blend until it reaches the consistency of a meal. Remove and set aside in a dish.
3. Next, place pitted dates in the food processor and process until small bits remain and/or it forms into a ball.
4. Then add in the cocoa powder and the nut meal and pulse. Continue pulsing until a loose dough is formed.
5. Once you have a dough that's easy to form into balls, scoop out 1 Tablespoon amounts and roll into balls. Set on parchment paper and place in freezer to chill - makes about 14 truffles.
6. In the meantime, melt chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave in 30 second increments. Be careful not to overheat. Once melted, stir in coconut oil to help the chocolate thin.
7. Remove truffles from freezer and use a fork drizzle chocolate over the top of the truffles. Transfer back onto parchment paper and let set at room temperature. Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature. Transfer to freezer for longer term storage.
3-4 oz (canned in water) tuna
Mash with ½ avocado
2 stalks celery, diced
Cracked pepper to taste
3- 4 oz cooked chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
1 tablespoon plain Greek yogurt
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons celery, chopped
2 tablespoons carrots, shredded
2 tablespoons red onion, diced
1 tablespoon slivered almonds
Salt & Pepper to taste
1. Mix ingredients together in a bowl.
2. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving.
LEMON BLUEBERRY MUFFINS
1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray muffin tin with cooking spray.
2. Melt the coconut oil
3. Pulse oats in a food processor or blender until the consistency of a flour
4. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix until well combined.
5. Scoop into muffin tin (makes about 9 muffins) and bake for 15 minutes, or until a tooth pick inserted in the middle comes out clean.