(Original story published on Friday September 5th, 2014 on FoodNetwork.ca.)
I blame my grade school days for my great distaste towards packed lunches. Day after day it was the same thing: The same plain sandwich with one slice of meat and no crust, and two boring snacks, which I’d usually eat at recess.
Though I never lucked out with a pack of Dunkaroos or Gushers, my parent’s were still pretty good at pleasing a kid. I got a one-bite chocolate bar on occasion, or sometimes a few chips. My lunch aside, it was the other kids I had a problem with. There was the one who always had the stinky baloney sandwich, the smell in which would linger until afternoon recess, and the kid that would bring fettuccini alfredo and a carton of milk every Thursday. (Don’t tell me you didn’t just shiver.)
And now, we still don’t really have a choice but to bring packed lunches to work. Health-wise and money-wise, it just makes sense. And so, because none of us can eat the exact same thing every day, I’ve come up with an easy guide to help you choose healthy options guaranteed to keep you full all day long. Sure, you may think it’s a lot of food but it’s all about portions. Eating a little food all day long is a surefire way to keep you full without overdoing the calories.
Now, all you have to do is pick an item from each of the following lists, prep it, pack it, and you’re on your merry way. And yes, don’t worry, I have your sweet tooth covered too.
8 AM: For most of us, the idea of cooking a fabulous breakfast and actually sitting down to eat it is as foreign as leaving the house with wet hair. It just doesn’t happen. So, we resort to eating on the go. Choose one of these easily packable, easy to eat snacks that go perfectly well with the two cups of coffee you always have time for.
- Organic wheat cereal, like Kashi’s.
- A whole wheat English muffin, toasted, with butter or jam (with no added sugar)
- A homemade breakfast bar under 150 cals, like our Peanut Butter Bar version.
10 AM: Your coffee’s done, you still have a few more hours until lunch, but you’re hungry. Or, you’re looking for an excuse to take a break from work for a bit. Fair enough! I’ve got you covered with morning fruit options:
- An apple.
- A scoop of fruit salad (try our version with a savoury dressing)
- A small serving of fruit, granola and Greek yogurt.
1 PM: You made it! It’s lunchtime. That thing you’ve been looking forward to all morning? Ya, it’s here. And we have three lunch options all delicious, and all healthy.
- A salad with asparagus, radish, avocado, spring green mix, and any other veggies you’d like to add. This is the fastest option, so if you’re short on time while preparing your lunch before work, go with this.
- A little more extravagant, but totally filling, a turkey sandwich on a whole wheat bun is a great option.
- The BLTA: Just grab a whole wheat wrap, arrange bacon, lettuce, tomato and avocado in it, and you’re done.
3 PM: Right about now, that darn sweet tooth starts acting up. This is the little kick we need to get us through the day, and it’s perfectly fine to indulge in something sweet, as long as this privilege is not abused, Meaning, no, I am not advising you to eat a whole dark chocolate bar, I’m talking about just a square or two.
- A small piece of dark chocolate (the darker you can go, the better!).
- 1 small cookie, like our chewy oatmeal cookies with apricots and pumpkin seeds.
- A small rice crispy square (do it right, and it can only be 150 calories).
5 PM: Some of us may still have another hour of work to put in, and some of us may have a super long commute home ahead of us. So, better take a little snack to hold you over until dinner, just so you’re not tempted to pick up a doughnut… or something.
- Fruit and cashew trail mix.
- Raw natural almonds.
- Light hummus with carrot and celery sticks.