Breakfast. Ah, oats.
My sister, who is a very busy college student, requested that I make a post about how to pack an awesome lunch. It turns out that I have a lot to say about this subject. So much, in fact, that I’ve decided to turn this topic into a series of posts.
I would like to start by discussing the characteristics of a good lunch.
A good lunch is:
1. Simple to prepare/assemble. Find a few staples that you can make in large batches and eat all week. It’s easy to mix it up a little each day, but you’ll save loads of time if you have some delicious things already prepared. Some of my favorites are soups, beans, and hard boiled eggs.
2. Healthy and energizing. Lunch should consist of vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, and/or whole grains. Avoid processed and pre-packaged foods, as they usually contain loads of added salt and sugar, which will not make you feel your best. The last thing you need in the midst of a long day of classes is to feel like crapola.
3. Cost effective. If you’re in college or a recent graduate who doesn’t have a real job (like me), you need healthy food on the cheap. Every week, I check out what produce is on sale at the grocery stores in my area, and I try to plan meals that include those items. Some things are always cheap, and those tend to be my staples.
4. Delish and satisfying. You won’t continue packing healthy lunches if you don’t like them. It’s important to know which foods make you feel your best, and which foods satisfy your cravings at particular points in the day. For example, I always crave something sweet in the afternoon, so I always pack something like a Larabar or some fruit to eat when my sweet tooth kicks in. Knowing your food moods is the key to planning ahead and making healthy choices.
My typical lunch:
On the days that I work, I’m gone from 9am until about 7pm. Therefore, when I pack a lunch, it usually includes a meal plus two snacks.
My morning/early afternoon snack is almost always a piece of fruit and/or plain yogurt.
Lunch usually consists of a cold salad, and leftovers, soup, or a “hot salad”. A hot salad is just an array of beans and cooked vegetables.
A classic hot salad of leftover red lentil soup, chickpeas, broccoli, collard greens, and red bell pepper. I just throw everything in the microwave. Even the collard greens, which were frozen, cook up perfectly in about 3 minutes.
About 60% of the time, I have a snack in the late afternoon/early evening. As I mentioned above, I have a pretty bad sweet tooth in the afternoon, so whatever I eat is normally on the sweet side. Larabars are one of my favorite things for this time of day, but sometimes I go with pineapple or a banana.
My favorite Larabars, Banana Bread and Carrot Cake.
I know I said that I don’t do processed/pre-packaged foods, but Larabars are my exception. First of all, they’re a much healthier option than a candy bar. Second, just look at that ingredients list.
This concludes Part 1 of Packing a Powerful Lunch.
In other news today, holy crap it’s cold outside. I don’t mean to sound surprised. After all, I have lived in Milwaukee for my entire life. But really. How can -15 be a real temperature?
My berbere spice blend came in the mail today, so more Ethiopian food coming soon.
Also in the mail today were two Christmas presents that I ordered for myself (I had some Amazon gift cards to finish off).
Two books I’ve had my eye on for a while: Herbs & Spices by Jill Norman, and Clean Food by Terry Walters. They both look awesome!