One question I find that comes up often as I’m talking to people about food and their health is, “What’s for lunch??” We may have it figured out for the kids, but what about ourselves? There are only so many days you can go to Panera for a salad. We want something to look forward to mid-day, something that will not only give us energy, but wake up our taste buds in the process. It needs to be good for us, because no one wants a sugar crash in the middle of the afternoon. And, please, let there be some variety. Turkey sandwiches every day for the next dozen years sounds like some form of purgatory. Oh, and the prep needs to be easy, and it needs to yield enough food.
Enter Lunch Bowls. A Lunch Bowl is like a salad but more filling. There is variety in flavor, texture, and color. And you may be getting a bigger nutrition boost when following a healthy recipe because you’ll be intentional about using a greater variety of vegetables than you may be getting from whatever happens to be hanging out in your fridge. There are a million and one (I counted :)) different combinations on the web. The recipes usually make about four bowls, which is enough, almost, for a work-week of lunches. My answer to variety is this: Eat the same lunch bowl recipe every day of this week, then choose a new recipe next week.
You’ll need a few tools, most notably a set of four or five bowls with lids, and a way to keep your lunch cold. I like pyrex bowls with lids – you’ll probably have access to a microwave where you work, and you don’t want to be microwaving plastic molecules into your food. Remove the lid before waving, and replace with a paper towel. Make your bowls roomy – my favorites are these. I love the neoprene lunch bags that you can find so easily on amazon. Buy a pack of those little refreezable ice packs as well.
Choose a recipe that you can eat several times. If you are prepping for two adults, double the recipe. The idea here is to get lunch done for the week so you won’t be starved and in the fast food lane at 12:45 on Wednesday. I’ve chosen three recipes to get you started.
For an easy and oh-so-delicious fix, try Balsamic Chicken Salad with Lemon Quinoa by Cafe Delites. Bonus: it serves six, so it could be Sunday night dinner as well as lunches for one. Or it could be lunches for two. After cooking your chicken, fill up your bowls, assembly line style to make your lunches. This one is brightly colored (translation: lots of antioxidants!) and super flavorful.
For a vegetarian option, try a Quinoa Burrito Bowl from Hapa Nom Nom. The beans, grains and avocado give it staying power, and the Avocado Lime Dressing gives it zaz. This recipe serves two, so I would double it. Add the avocados to the salad each day – they don’t keep well once cut. And, I’d make the dressing for the second batch a couple of days into the week so it will be fresh as well. And, since I’m not a vegetarian, I might be tempted to cook up a plate of grass-fed hamburgers for dinner one night and add a few of the leftovers to my Lunch Bowls for the week. But that’s just me.
Sweet Peas and Saffron brings what may be the easiest recipe of all: Honey Sesame Chicken Lunch Bowls. She even has a video to show you step-by-step how to assemble your lunches. This recipe makes four servings in short order. I’d probably add some red bell pepper slices to mine.
Google “Lunch Bowls” for a myriad of additional options. Or, make your own: choose a grain or bean, top with meat, fresh veggies, brightly flavorful herbs and spices, and a healthy dressing. Choose a theme: Asian, Italian or Tex-Mex. Try making your lunches ahead this week, and see how easily and happily your week goes by.
Camille Watson is a health educator, speaker and published author of the book Eight Steps to a Real-Foods Kitchen. Her passion is to give individuals and groups the knowledge and tools they need to take back their health. If you are interested in learning more about achieving health through delicious, whole foods and lifestyle transformations, email firstname.lastname@example.org to attend one of her cooking classes or to schedule your free consultation.