how to keep lunch exciting but healthy

For me, keeping my meals exciting is essential to my weight loss success.  Lunch tends to be one of those meals many of use overlook or don’t plan ahead in advance because it seems so far away in the morning before you wake up and go to work or school.  I’m lucky to often be home to make lunch during the week because of my schedule, but there are certainly days I know I’m not going to be and need to plan in advance.  The important thing is to always have a few key ingredients on hand that you know you can make a healthy and filling lunch out of at any time.

I’m a soup, salad, and sandwich kind of girl when it comes to lunch.  There is so much variety that can be made within any three of these categories, and a number of ways to make them all healthy choices.

Here is one of my favorite combos in a rut:
turkey sandwich with mixed greens and a mesculin green salad with light feta, strawberries, and light balsamic dressing

I love this combo. Its definitely one of my favorites and keeps me full for a long time. I’m able to get protein (which I have found is really essential for me to feel full) and fiber.  Here are some great ingredients I think that can help you build delicious and healthy sandwiches and salads!

Sandwiches
bread: whole wheat bread, half of a wrap, Arnold’s sandwich thin, whole wheat english muffin

the “meat”: sauteed mixed vegetables, low sodium turkey or ham, grilled or oven baked chicken, grilled or oven baked lean seafood such as salmon, grilled or oven baked eggplant, a veggie burger (make sure you check the ingredients though, organic brands in this case often tend to be the better choice because of the tons of processed ingredients in Morning Star, Boca burgers, other non-organic meatless brands)

toppings: mixed greens or spinach; fresh vegetables such as tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, broccoli, carrots and mushrooms; sauteed vegetables; a slice of light cheese; sometimes even adding fresh fruit can make a sandwich a little bit more exciting; roasted red peppers

dressings: the most important thing with dressings it to make sure you’re using the correct serving size! take out measuring spoons if you need to :) light mayonnaise, balsamic vinegar with a little olive oil, light dressings, hummus, a laughing cow wedge of cheese

Salads

greens: green or red leaf lettuce, mesculin greens, romaine lettuce, spinach

toppings: fresh vegetables; light cheeses like feta or gorgonzola; nuts such as almonds or pistachios; fresh fruit such as blueberries, strawberries, oranges, pears, or apples; grilled chicken or seafood; tempeh; all different beans such as black beans or kidney beans; chickpeas; corn; a hard boiled egg

dressings: any light vinaigrettes (Newman’s Own or Annie’s are my favorite store bought brands usually); olive oil with balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar; a dollop of hummus

I think that making sure when you grocery shop you stock up on fruits and veggies for the week is really important.  The more of those items I have sitting around in my kitchen, the more inspired I am to make a healthy lunch.  I think there are two very important things to remember when trying to make a healthy choices for lunch.

1. MEASURE, MEASURE, MEASURE! For me, I don’t worry about how many fruits and veggies I’m putting on, so unless you’re on a specified diet where your intake of these are limited, don’t bother measuring those in general.  However, I measure all of my dressings, cheeses, nuts, and meat.  If you’re already maintaining a healthy weight, than you probably are eating the right serving size.  However, if you’re trying to lose a few pounds (or more than a few!), I can’t emphasize how important measuring is for most people to be successful.  I know it can seem completely annoying, but I promise, you really will be thankful you did in the end.  You might be surprised at what an actual serving size of dressing really is, and also realize you don’t miss than extra dressing weighing down your sandwich or salad.

2. I never regret eating something healthy.  I try to constantly tell myself this when I make food choices, especially if I’m struggling to pick that salad over the leftover Chinese sitting in fridge.  I try to pause and remind myself of how I feel after I eat the Chinese as opposed to how my body and even more importantly, my mind, feel when I eat a salad and a sandwich.  You are full from both, but they are such different types of full feelings.

I hope some of these tips make you help you to make some better lunch choices and try some new combinations that deter from your typical sandwiches and salads :)

What are your favorite sandwich and salad combinations?  What is your go to lunch when you’re in a rut? What do you do to motivate yourself to make healthy food choices?

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About Emily

musings of a twenty-something.
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5 Responses to how to keep lunch exciting but healthy

  1. Good tips!! I love fruit & feta :) One of my favs is blue cheese with a little apricot spread & turkey.

  2. My go-to lunch is soup, for sure! Amy’s Veggie Barley with some cheese + pita and hummus is so yummy :)

  3. I definitely like to vary my meals- otherwise I go crazy! I used to eat the same thing for every meal, which really contributed to my binge eating. The salad with feta and strawberries looks SO good!

  4. Katie H. says:

    Great tips! My favorite thing to add to sandwiches is avocado. It is so tasty and creamy and a great source of healthy fats! I always forget about it though

  5. Have you checked out the website saladpride.blogspot.com? Its amazing! Tons of ideas for easy, healthy lunches – anything but boring!

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