Healthy Lunch Ideas at the Office
In order to help stave off the question of what’s for lunch – the best thing to do is answer that question before it ever arises. There’s always an option to pack a lunch, but there are always those times when we missed a trip to the grocery store, or we forgot our lunch bag at home.
We've all been there. It's an hour before lunchtime and our stomach is already growling. By the time lunchtime comes around, we're not exactly in a state of mind to make a healthy choice. If you're like us, you might feel like you'll eat anything that doesn't eat you first. Something quick that will satisfy our hunger in a hurry usually wins out over waiting for a healthy option. When we are already hungry, most of us can admit we are more likely to choose a lunch that is quick, and satisfying, whether or not it's a healthy choice.
In order to help stave off the question of what's for lunch – the best thing to do is answer that question before it ever arises. There's always an option to pack a lunch, but there are always those times when we missed a trip to the grocery store, or we forgot our lunch bag at home.
For healthy lunch ideas at the office, a little menu research and planning ahead can go a long way toward better health. Not to mention a more satisfied stomach.
First, find out if your local grocery store has a deli where you can have a ready-made sandwich with all of your favorite toppings in less than 10 minutes. You can leave and return to the office with a healthy lunch in hand in no time. Grocery stores are normally laid out similarly—with the deli and fresh fruit and vegetables near the perimeter of the store—making it easy to stop and grab some fresh grapes or an apple as a healthy side item to your sandwich. Tack on an unsweet tea and you've got perfect healthy meal for the office—or a picnic for that matter.
Second, use an app like Zomato to see which restaurants are near the office. You may find a restaurant that your office mate who has been working there for years has not stumbled across yet. Once you have a list of restaurants within close proximity, make a list and look up the menus, and print off a copy. Or try swinging by and see if they have a paper menu that you can take with you.
Once you have your list of menus, the third and final step is to investigate what healthier meals for the office you can find. Circle them, highlight them, and even rank them in order of healthiest to moderately healthy. Most chain restaurant websites have calorie and nutrient information tables already on their websites. Legally, restaurants are required to have their menus analyzed and provide consumers with this data about their food offerings, although the FDA extended the mandatory compliance date to December 1, 2016.
The most important thing part of this process … don't do any of these tasks when you are already hungry. Circle healthy options and do your investigating after you've already eaten. Look up calorie counts when you are not starved for calories already—so that your judgement is clear. Highlight the healthiest lunch option when you're at the office in one color, and the most cost efficient meal in another color. We all know it's a bad idea to shop in the grocery store when we are already hungry, and making smart choices before hunger hits flows in the same vein—sometimes we need to outsmart ourselves and our hunger. Few of us have endless willpower, so making our healthy choice beforehand primes our healthy decision before we ever have to make it.
If we plan and prepare ahead this way, when lunchtime creeps up and our stomach begins gnawing, we can mindlessly choose healthier options, because we've already set ourselves up for success beforehand. But what about the absolute, hands-down, best way to make sure you have a healthy meal on hand? Pack a meal you love that is delicious and healthy, and carry it with you to your workplace.
Here's a down and dirty list of healthy meals for the office that you can pack from home in just a few short minutes.
1. Try waldorf chicken salad made with lowfat mayo and greek yogurt. Add a 5-7 triscuit style crackers and you're in with a win. The walnuts typically found in this salad contain heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids. The apples and grapes give you a serving of fruit and balance of sweetness and freshness to your office lunch.
2. Take an 8" pita and slice it in two halves. Fill each half with your choice of turkey, provolone and fresh veggies, or make it pizza-style with turkey pepperoni, marinara sauce, oregano, and mozzarella cheese. Make it Mediterranean-style with hummus, olives, and feta cheese. Try it rustic with sliced turkey, goat cheese, and thin slices of pear. The possibilities inside a pita are endless.
3. Make cucumber sushi. You'll be shocked at how easy it is to slice cucumber into thing long strips that can be rolled around your favorite toppings, like smoked salmon, dill and lowfat cream cheese. Slide a toothpick into each one to keep them rolled and turn them into quick finger foods.
4. Boston bibb lettuce is surprisingly strong, and comes in large, wide leaves that are begging to be filled with your favorite tuna salad or teriyaki chicken. Pack the leaves separately from the filling, and make sure you bring a spoon so you can fill and wrap your lunch in a delicious jiffy.
5. Make leftovers at dinner. If you're preparing a meal – why not make a little more for lunch the next day? Make a few extra meatballs and a little extra side of sautéed zucchini and squash. Your wallet will thank you right along with your hungry stomach.