When I moved into my apartment my junior year in college, I was able to really take control of what I was eating because I was grocery shopping and cooking for myself. I was no longer confined to college campus food and I was excited to hone my cooking skills. This is when I discovered that if I planned my meals in advance, and made sure my refrigerator was stocked with good for me foods, I was less likely to head to the bar for beer and wings and more likely to stir fry up some chicken and vegetables at home. If I had a long day on campus ahead of me, I almost always packed a lunch to go. Knowing I had spent good money on groceries for the week was also a clear incentive to let nothing go to waste.
Fast forward to my Charlotte apartment when I was working a corporate job, my roommate Ashley and I would sit down every Sunday, plan our dinners for the week and go to the market to pick up everything that we needed. I credit this wonderful living situation for really making me fall in love with meal planning. We actually enjoyed it and we always looked forward to our meals together. Ashley and I were both big on bringing our lunches to work. We stocked up on salad ingredients, hummus, veggies and yogurt. Some weeks, we would even buy a rotisserie chicken to shred up and use for the week. We also planned our meals accordingly so that we had yummy leftovers to use as lunch options as well. When you work in an office environment, it's especially hard to turn down lunches out and treats from the gift baskets that clients send in. I wish I would have added up all of the lunches out that I turned down in my my time there, I bet I saved a TON of money. Working in an office like mine was a HUGE test in self control and looking back, I am honestly proud of how well I did.
Now that I work from home most days, I don't really operate any differently. When I do my grocery shopping for the week, I make sure to pick up things that will be good options for lunch, also knowing that I will have some leftovers from dinners throughout the week. I'm a big fan of re-purposing dinner leftovers for lunch. If we are grilling chicken for dinner, I try to plan that for the beginning of the week. We'll make four times what we need and that way we have chicken to throw on salads for lunch. I do the same thing with flank steak, pork tenderloin, shrimp and salmon. Leftover roasted veggies are also great the next day! I enjoy all of these cold straight from the fridge and on salads is the perfect way to eat the leftovers.
Here are some of my favorite go-to lunches:
I'm a big salad eater. Trader Joe's is my favorite place to grab fresh arugula or mini lettuce mixes- I always have some on hand. Sometimes, I skip the lettuce all together and just go leafless. On my salads, I like some form of protein and just add in vegetables and sometimes fruits if I want something sweet. Avocado is one of my favorite salad toppings! Sometimes I'll add crumbled goat cheese and a handful of nuts. Walnuts are my favorite right now. I just top my salad with a small drizzle of good olive oil, some balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper.
Mediterranean Tuna Salad on Cucumbers
This tuna is so yummy and quick to whip up. I take a can of tuna in water, throw in some chopped red onions, tomatoes and kalamata olives. I mix in some balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and oregano, and eat it on top of cucumber slices.
Turkey, Avocado + Tomato Lettuce Wraps
We love lettuce wraps around here. I almost always have a head of iceberg lettuce in my refrigerator solely for making lettuce wraps. I have my turkey cut fresh in the deli and just build a normal sandwich using lettuce instead of bread! I like to pile my lettuce wraps with turkey, tomato, avocado and dijon mustard.
All of these lunches are incredibly healthy and take less than 10 minutes to prepare. The extra time it takes to plan is worth the extra inches off of your waistline.