Pack a Finger-Food Lunch in Under 5 Minutes
One of the most common challenges I see my clients struggle with is how to eat a healthy lunch. Too often, busy schedules lead them to either skip lunch or choose something quick and processed. While skipping lunch or eating out once in a while might not be a big issue, if it becomes a pattern it can wreak havoc on your metabolism and overall health. Plus, skipping lunch can lead to overeating at the next meal or skipping a workout.
Luckily, you can avoid all that with a finger-food lunch (also known as an "adult Lunchable")! The great thing about this type of meal is that the ingredients require little-to-no prep and can be thrown together in the morning in under five minutes. While I'm not an advocate of eating at your desk (I think everyone deserves a break), a finger-food lunch easily can be eaten while you keep cranking away on your busiest days.
To build a healthy, balanced, finger-food lunch, pick one item from each category below.
Category 1: Proteins
- Lunch meat such as free-range/grass-fed/organic/uncured chicken, turkey, bison, beef or ham
- Smoked salmon
- Shrimp cocktail (it sounds weird, I know, but it works!)
- Uncured, nitrate-free bacon or turkey bacon
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Edamame or tofu
- Cottage cheese (you'll need to bring a spoon or use a whole-grain cracker or chip to scoop it up)
Category 2: Healthy Fats
- Avocado cubes
- A scoop of guacamole
- Nut-and-seed mix
- Nut butter or seed butter
Category 3: Vegetables
Any veggies you can eat with your hands will work. Some of my favorites are:
- Baby carrots
- Snap peas
- Snow peas
- Cherry tomatoes
- Zucchini slices
- Cucumber slices or mini cucumbers
- Celery sticks
Category 4: "Goodies"
In my mind, no lunch is complete without a goody.
- Piece of fruit
- Low-sugar yogurt (look for one with a nutrition label that says it has more grams of protein than sugar)
- Dark chocolate
- Whole-grain crackers or chip
Try One of These Combinations
- Grass-fed bison cold cuts + avocado slices + cherry tomatoes + an apple
- Turkey cold cuts + goat-milk cheddar cheese + snap peas + yogurt
- Turkey bacon + carrots + guacamole + dark chocolate
- Shrimp cocktail and cocktail sauce + turkey bacon + avocado + cherry tomatoes
- Chicken cold cuts + peanut butter + celery + an apple
You get the idea! A healthy lunch does not need to be elaborate, cost a lot, or take a long time to make.
* This blog was adapted from an original post on on Kelli Shallal's Hungry Hobby blog.
Kelli Shallal, MPH, RD, is a Phoenix-based registered dietitian, personal trainer, nutrition counselor and communications specialist. Read her blog, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.
(Photo: Kelli Shallal, MPH, RD)