Keeping in line with our January theme of getting into action, this week’s call to action is all about your lunchtime habits!
Lunch is a very important meal of the day.
For athletes, it’s THE MEAL that gives them energy and sets the stage for their after-school/afternoon practice. If you are striving for excellence in your sport, you MUST focus some attention on your lunch in order to get the most out of your body and be a champion at practice.
For young athletes, typical school lunches probably won’t cut it when it comes to fueling for optimal performance, unless they go to a more progressive school. Pizza, french fries, candy bars, and cheesy breadsticks are not going to optimally fuel anybody.
CORPORATE HIGH PERFORMERS
For a corporate high performer, lunch is also THE MEAL that gets them through the day with sustained energy, focus, and drive.
And for corporate high performers, skipping lunch because they are “too busy” isn’t going to get them through the day without a Red Bull or constant flow of coffee (which are not the most healthy habits).
Daily lunches are a common area of struggle for many families.
People often ask me, “What do you eat for lunch?”
The simple answer is to use leftovers from dinner the night before. Dinner, for most families, tends to be the most balanced meal of the day, making it a perfect fit for lunchtime fueling.
My favorite “cook once, eat thrice” motto that I learned from my cooking teacher in school long ago serves well in this area.
When you cook dinner, make enough for a few extra days of lunches and then, after dinner, immediately put the food in storage containers and in the fridge. When you wake up the next morning, you’ll be happy to see those meals ready to go.
However, if you can’t get into the cook once, eat thrice mode, here are some tactics to make your lunches as nutritious and simple as possible.
#1 At the beginning of the week, make a large pasta dish (preferably gluten-free) that includes a balance of nutrients.
One of the following options will probably get you through Wednesday, depending on how many children you have and the amount you make.
Pasta with Meat Sauce: Combine a light amount of cheese (or a cheese alternative, such as that produced by Daiya) with cooked meat sauce and sautéed and chopped spinach and/or any other vegetables you’d like (zucchini or broccoli, for example). Combine all cooked ingredients in a baking dish and bake at 375 degrees until the top gets slightly brown.
Pasta Salad: Combine cooked and cooled pasta, steamed chopped vegetables of your choice, like broccoli, cauliflower, and/or spinach, along with some raw vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers, and carrots, with a protein of your choice, like grilled chicken pieces, pepperoni, or meatballs, and mix in some simple Italian dressing.
#2 Sandwich & Salad Approach
You can always make a sandwich and salad quick in the morning as long as you have the right stuff.
For a sandwich, always keep some bread (preferably gluten-free), spinach, and a meat of choice on hand.
If you’d like to stay away from lunch meat, make several grilled chicken breasts at the beginning of the week. You can also add a dairy-free cheese like Daiya, along with some sprouts, cucumbers, lettuce, hummus, and/or Paleo mayonnaise.
It helps to make a large salad (undressed) at the beginning of the week that you can pull from to complement your sandwich and fill you up with the nourishing nutrients that a salad can provide, like nuts, seeds, and/or avocado. Just be sure not to coat it in a sugar-laden dressing; oil and vinegar with lemon and a little agave syrup work wonderfully.
#3 Premade Bulk Food Finds
It’s rare for me to find pre-made food items in bulk that work for our family’s foodstyle; however, when I do find them, I stock up. Tamales, simple-ingredient soups, chicken apple sausage, pulled chicken, and hard-boiled eggs all work very well for school lunches.
Finally, the following make great additions or sides to any healthy lunch box!
- Pre-cut carrots and celery with peanut butter
- Nuts and seeds
- Fruit leathers (only if 100% fruit)
- Almond crackers
- Low-sugar yogurt (buy plain and just add a little honey)
- Flavored seltzer (no sugar or chemical sweeteners like LaCroix… just add stevia for flavor)
What new action can YOU take to create a healthier lunch habit this week?
Whatever you choose, put it on your calendar now, so that you get it done and begin the path to a new habit.
Send me some pictures of your Champion Powered lunch creations and tag me on my Instagram, @Anita_Nall, so I can see what new actions you are taking!