You Deserve More Than A Spongy Lean Cuisine For Lunch! Five Tips For Monday – Friday Lunches.

The Secret to Portion Control and Better Nutrition: Make A Little More For Dinner and Pack It For Lunch. 

If you’re making a habit out of eating a Smart One or Lean Cuisine for lunch, you can do a lot better.  While these heat-and-eat meals aren’t the worst options for a quick lunch, they come in right behind Ramen noodles and the Burrito Supreme on the Taco Bell’s Fresco menu with too much sodium and preservatives and not much in the way of nutritional value.

At work the employee lunchroom is lined up at noon with people waiting for a microwave so they can warm up their ready-to-eat foods.  The finished product is  a meal that would make me a little less hungry for about 20 minutes.  I would be scratching around for something else to eat before I had a chance to throw the microwave-safe container away.

A leftover Tilapia filet, grilled veggies, and a whole wheat wrap will make a delicious lunch tomorrow.

It’s Not Even Close to Rocket Science

Fixing a lunch to take to work that is low in fat, sodium, and calories, yet is high in nutrition, satisfying, and filling, is easier than you think.  The key is to add a couple of extra portions to whatever you’re making for dinner so that you can take a serving for lunch the next day.

If you eat a meal for lunch that is tasty, and not loaded with sugar, sodium and preservatives, you will feel better throughout the afternoon and not succumb to the cravings that hit around 3 p.m.

Five Easy Ideas For Lunch That You Can Prepare The Night Before

1.  The Big Salad – When you make a big salad for dinner make one for your lunch the next day at the same time.  You can purchase a salad keeper that has a separate compartment for the dressing for about $7. It’s worth the investment. A generous serving of salad with a can of tuna, chicken breast or a boiled egg will provide an abundance of vitamins and minerals that will keep your energy up throughout the afternoon. Check out a recipe for a yummy asparagus salad here.

A container that keeps the salad fresh in the fridge until lunch the next day is a $6 investment.

2. Mix and Match – Toss together brown rice, or whole grain pasta, with steamed broccoli, olive oil, seasoning, and a source of lean protein.  Salmon, tilapia, and tuna are good choices.  This can be stored in the fridge overnight and heated up alongside the Lean Cuisines and Ramen noodles in the break room at lunchtime.  Using different types of pasta, seasonings, veggies and protein will keep this interesting and can be an option at least two days a week.

Broiled Tilapia is perfect for a wrap or mixed with brown rice and veggies.

3.  Soup – Soup is one of the best choices and so is easy to make ahead and plan for extra servings.  Vegetable chilies, minestrone, and butternut squash are some favorites that are easy to make and delicious warmed up. Add a whole wheat roll or tortilla and you have a meal that’s warm, satisfying, and rich in nutrients.

4.  Wraps – Chop up cucumbers, peppers, mushrooms, and combine with chopped chicken, ground turkey, fish or tofu. Add a drizzle of flavored olive oil or healthy salad dressing and wrap in a whole-wheat tortilla. There are a ton of ingredients that will work.  If you stock up on fresh vegetables at the grocery you can create something different each time. Raw veggies work as well as those sauteed for a couple of minutes.

Chop up extra veggies tonight so you’ll have a wrap for lunch tomorrow.

5.  One pot meals -One pot meals can be a timesaver when you need to prepare dinner for the family.  They also make a hearty heat-and-eat meal for your lunch the next day.  For a delicious Braised Beef & Mushrooms recipe from click here. Eating Well has several healthy one-pot meal recipes that can be modified for the crock-pot.

Making extras servings of whatever it is you’re cooking for dinner and putting it up to have for lunch the next day is the best way to guarantee that you will have a satisfying mid-day meal.  Plus, it will help you exercise portion control at dinner.  Before you begin eating, take out a serving and put it in a container – preferably one that can go from refrigerator to microwave – and put it up.  Knowing that you have it to look forward to the next day will prevent overeating.

What’s your favorite left-over lunch?