5 Make Ahead Work Lunches
Tring Tring -There goes the alarm again! After you pressed snooze for the nth time – now there’s a mad dash to get ready for work. In all this rush, there is never time to prepare a homemade healthy work lunch. The local sandwich shop is great in a pinch but definitely, it’s not that great for the waist and the wallet.
Well, don’t fret! Follow these simple tips for homemade lunches and you will be the toast of your colleagues when they get a sniff of the appetizing smells from your home packed goodies.
1. Grain Based Cold Salads
Grains are the new superfoods and are super-easy to prep in big batches. Quinoa, bulgur wheat, buckwheat and even the humble brown basmati rice are loaded with minerals and tummy filling fibers.
The tabbouleh style of grain salad is a breeze to prepare and pack.
Just rinse and roast the grains. Add two times water and cook in a
covered pot for 15- 20 mins till all the water is absorbed. Don’t forget to salt the water to taste. Cool the grains and mix with seeds (sun flower and pumpkin) for the omega acids, chopped herbs like parsley and mint, chopped avocado and finally spritz in some good olive oil. Top it with lemon juice for a burst of flavor. The flavors meld and intensify overnight.
2. Hot and Filling- fall ready soups
A thermos is a fairly inexpensive investment and it rewards you with satisfying and nourishing soups. Batch soup making is easy
and lesser hands on. The easiest soup is a minestrone vegetable soup which is a mix of proteins and fiber, satiating you in the bracing winter.
Start with a mirepoix (chopped up root vegetables like onion, carrots, and celery) and saute the root veggies in olive oil, add in chopped garlic, herbs, and cold water (around 8 cups). Next add in cubed potatoes and chopped tomatoes and around 5-6 cups of water. Season with salt and pepper and simmer for around 1 hour. You can even add uncooked pasta when the soup comes to a boil (Allow 10-12 mins for uncooked pasta). Fill up rewarmed soup and enjoy piping hot with crackers or a homemade sandwich.
3. Sheet pan Dinners
Sheet pan dinners are easy, hands-free and make great leftovers for work. Simply slice onions, red bell peppers, carrots, zucchini and
mix them with olive oil, salt, pepper, and herbs. Season boneless chicken breasts by tossing them with spices, herbs, and olive oil. Arrange all the veggies and chicken in a foil covered sheet pan without crowding and bake in a preheated 450-degree oven for 20 -22 minutes or until chicken and veggies are cooked through. Layer a lunchbox with rice or grains and top it with the chicken mixture for a protein punch.
4. Bean Salads
Canada is known for its pulses and beans, so it’s great to embrace beans in Canada’s 150th year. Beans and pulses are cheap yet bursting with health benefits namely fiber and proteins.
These do take some time so always start a day in advance to pre-soak for minimum 12 hours. Drain and transfer to a pan with fresh water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 hour or until tender.
You can always opt for canned beans, they are just as good. Combine cooked beans, chopped onion, chopped tomatoes, chopped cucumber, parsley, chopped jalapenos, olive oil salt, pepper and lemon juice. This salad is filling and may be accompanied with crackers or flatbreads.
5. Healthy Smoothies
For the days peppered with “Je ne sais quoi”, make ahead smoothies are the best bet. They are actually a perk me up treat
which is too easy to assemble. In fact, portion out berries, mango, banana, and greens in a zip lock for 2- 3 days in advance. The night before, just add fruits, greens, protein powder, ice to milk or other milk variants and blitz. Pour into mason jars and refrigerate. Instant lunch Yay! If the smoothie separates, just shake and drink. Don’t forget your straw.
These are just guidelines and you can play with ingredients as your mood suits. Just a little preparation can lead to yummy results and these lunches can suit any diet, leaving a little room for just desserts. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get packing.