When life gets busy, the first thing that is often forgotten about is lunch. This mid-day meal is essential in sustaining your energy levels and productivity throughout the day. Still, it can be hard to fit in a nutritious lunch. It’s also tough to be motivated to pack a healthy lunch for the day. Buying lunch out every now and then is not a massive cause for concern. However, eating out too often can wreak havoc on your overall health, energy levels, and wallets. Benefits of packing a lunch include indulging in more nutritious fruits or vegetables, curbing your afternoon slump, having correct portion sizes, and saving money.
Norway is a country that often has “matpakke” meaning “packed lunch.” In Norwegian, matpakke refers to a minimal, open-faced sandwich that’s easily assembled and eaten every single day by Norwegians. Traditionally, everyone eats their own individually wrapped, home-made matpakke for a quick and easy lunch-time meal. The key to this meal is that it provides sustenance, but it doesn’t leave you too full. The perfect healthy lunch is portioned just right to give you the energy to continue your day. Here’s what to include in your lunch to make it the ideal healthy and balanced meal:
Including protein in your is a great way to keep you feel fuller for longer. This will keep sugar cravings at bay until your next snack or meal. Some ideas for protein sources for your lunch are beans, deli slices, hard-boiled eggs, tuna fish, or nuts and seeds. Leftovers from dinner the night before that included protein can easily be packed up for your next day lunch!
We all know vegetables are an incredible source of nutrients that are important for your health. Chopping fresh veggies ahead of time for lunches is a quick and easy way to add veggies to your lunches. Try pairing chopped cucumber, bell peppers, and carrots with tasty dips such as tzatziki or hummus. Or add some roasted vegetables from your dinner the night before to a salad with fresh greens and herbs.
Adding whole grains to your lunch will give your meal tasty sustenance as well as dietary fiber. Quinoa, brown rice, crackers, tortillas, and whole-grain bread can make for delicious components to multiple different lunches. Try making a Mediterranean salad with quinoa, cucumber, chickpeas, red onion, olives, tomatoes, basil, crumbled feta cheese, and an olive-oil based dressing.
Lastly, at the end of your lunch, you may be craving a little something sweet. Instead of reaching for candy or a pastry, Make sure to include some of nature’s candy: fruit! Add to your lunch a container of fresh berries, sliced tropical fruit, or whatever fruit you have on hand. Make sure to mix up your variety of fruit for different taste and nutrients.