When it comes to making lunch, for many post-baby years I followed a predictable pattern:
With a side of bread.
Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m not gluten-free, and I’m definitely not following a Paleo diet.
But sometime during the baby-permanently-affixed-to-one-arm phase, lunch had become more or less an afterthought. I’d make some toast (despite the fact that I’d already had toast for breakfast) or, when I couldn’t even be bothered to do that, would just slap some peanut butter on a slice of bread and call it good.
Half an hour later I’d be starving again, hovering over a box of crackers or chips. Or making toast.
Why not grab some fruit? Or a salad? Between running errands and trying desperately to meet deadlines during naps, I’d just gotten out of the habit of investing much time in my midday meal. It was basically one long, carb-loaded graze that filled the space between breakfast and dinner.
Finally I realized that lunch is an important meal in and of itself, and deserves to be more than an afterthought. And that, with a little preparation, even moms of little ones can take a few minutes to put together a healthy lunch.
Plus, when I eat a good lunch I have that much more energy to power my afternoon, which is usually the busiest time of the day.
Are you in the same boat? Or maybe for you, it’s breakfast that gets short shrift.
Either way, today your challenge is to give your weakest meal a makeover.
Some ideas for giving your lunch (or breakfast) a boost:
Whether it’s adding spinach and red peppers to a scrambled egg, putting an extra layer of field greens on your turkey sammy, or adding berries to your yogurt, lunch is the perfect opportunity to play with vitamin-packed produce. But remembering that extra step can take a little extra forethought in the grocery store and before you start to prep the meal, so be sure to give a little thought to your lunches while making your shopping list.
Since I like to be a little more spontaneous with lunches than I am with dinners, I make sure to always pick up a pint of grape tomatoes, some berries, a bag of baby spinach leaves, a sweet pepper and an avocado or two during each shopping trip, even if I don’t have a specific need in mind for them. That way I’ll always have a fruit or veggie to add to my lunch, no matter what I’m making.
Pack in protein.
I find that going heavy on protein at lunch helps me feel full all the way until dinner, even if I don’t eat all that much.
Some protein-heavy lunches that don’t take long to make:
- Serve black beans next to an over-medium egg with salsa or avocado
- Quiche with spinach, cheese and mushrooms
- An “epic salad” with hard-boiled eggs, red onion, and bacon
Take advantage of leftovers.
One of my best strategies for noteworthy lunches is using leftovers from the previous night’s meal. For example:
- A little leftover steak or salmon can become tacos for lunch
- Last night’s roasted chicken can become today’s chicken salad sandwich
- Mix leftover pork or pancetta with rice and veggies
Will you take the challenge and make over your lunch (or breakfast?)
Share your plan and any challenges in the comments below, or discuss – and swap meal ideas and inspiration – in the Beyond Baby Facebook group!