Workday Lunches In A Flash: The Emergency Lunch List
Weekday mornings often involve pressing the snooze button once or twice (or more), rushing around trying to get ready for the day, maybe eating breakfast (read: why breakfast is SO important for weight management), and rushing out the door. Too often, it's when you're on route to work that you think about lunch. "Oh no, I forgot to pack my lunch again", or "shoot, I'm going to have to buy my lunch again" may go through your mind on most days. Forgetting to pack a lunch or snacks for the day will not only affect your energy levels, your ability to focus and concentrate on your work, and your overall mood, but it will also cost you a lot more money and likely lead to overeating and making poor choices at work and when you get home from work.
Many people feel that it's impossible to pack healthy lunches...there's just not enough time, or there are too many other things to worry about besides packing a lunch. While I do admit that it takes a bit of planning and maybe a little bit of extra time (not much!), lunch-making doesn't have to be an arduous task. In fact, it can be ridiculously easy if you have an emergency lunch stash to draw from at home.
If you work away from home, I cannot stress enough how important leftovers can be for easy lunch options, but on those days where you just don't feel like leftovers (or there aren't any), your emergency throw-together-in-a-pinch lunches list is key. This list includes healthy (but convenient, and possibly packaged) foods that you can literally grab from your fridge or pantry and throw into your bag. It's important to remember to pack enough for snacks as well, otherwise, you'll be caught running to the vending machine or coffee shop mid-afternoon, likely choosing not-so-healthy options. When packing your emergency lunches, it's important to remember BALANCE. I always make sure to include high-quality protein sources, fruits and vegetables, whole grains in my lunches, and protein + fruit or veg for snacks in between.
Here are some of my emergency lunches:
- mini can of tuna + whole grain crackers + raw veggies (already washed and chopped in the fridge--this is key) + miniature package of hummus (can buy at Costco) + piece of fruit
- dehydrated split pea soup cup (can be found in soup aisle) + low sodium v8 juice, a slice of whole-grain bread + piece of fruit + hard-boiled egg
- individual greek yogurt + individual cottage cheese (mix together) + frozen berries + homemade granola
- whole-grain wrap + 2 tbsp natural peanut butter (in small container) + banana (peanut butter banana wrap) + cheese + cucumber and carrots + milk
- homemade muffin + sliced cheese + hard boiled egg + fruit + homemade trail mix
and here is my emergency lunch and snack item list:
- mini cans of tuna
- individually packed cheeses
- individual greek yogurt containers
- individual cottage cheese containers
- whole-grain crackers
- rinsed and chopped raw vegetables
- washed salad mixes
- hummus (store-bought or homemade)
- a variety of fresh and frozen fruit
- homemade trail mix
- dehydrated soup cups
- low sodium V8 juice
- hard-boiled eggs
- canned beans
- unsweetened apple or other fruit sauce
- natural peanut butter
- whole-grain tortillas
- whole-grain bread
- nitrate-free deli meat
This is an extensive list, but it will give you some ideas for your own emergency lunch list.
When I run out of any of these, I make sure to write them on my grocery list so that I don't forget to pick it up.
It's Nutrition Month and The Dietitians of Canada want to help you eat well from 9-5. Here are some helpful resources to get you through the workweek:
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