Although I haven't been a student for over two years now, and I haven't taken classes in even longer, I still get a little bit of anxiety when I hear those words - BACK TO SCHOOL! The anxiety quickly goes away once I remind myself that not only does this NOT apply to me, but MY summer goes all the way until the end of September. Plus, Fall is BY FAR my favorite season, so there's really nothing to worry about. BUT, for all of you teachers and parents, back to school is REAL.
Goodbye to the schedule-less days of summer and hello to structure! AND lunch packing! The brown-bag lunch is certainly something most people associate with school, but you can save money and stay healthy & fit by packing your lunch as an adult too!
FitYaf's Lessons in Lunch-Packing
- Choose variety. Think of lunch as a meal on a plate, with protein, complex carbs, fresh produce and a wholesome treat on the side (if you desire). A bento-style container with separated food compartments allows you to pack a wide variety of foods in one reusable container.
- Choose color. Different colored foods have different vitamins and minerals and thus different nutritional benefits. That's why many nutritionists will suggest keeping a wide variety of color in your diet. Fruits and vegetables are a great place to start when adding color to your diet - try out some carrots, cucumbers, blueberries, cherry tomatoes and strawberries.
- Try unique combinations. Sometimes lunch can just be boring. Spice things up by combining things you wouldn't normally combine: hummus & sugar snap peas, edamame salad with corn & tomatoes, apples or bananas with nut butter, greek yogurt & trail mix, nut butter wrapped in lettuce leaves with dried raisins or cranberries, vegetable sticks with dip (nut butter, plain yogurt), and fruit in mashed cottage cheese or yogurt.
- Protein is your friend. Some of the biggest complaints about packed lunches is that they leave you feeling hungry. Stock up on protein and it will keep you feeling fuller longer and also help you avoid that afternoon slump! Great protein sources for salads and sandwiches are grilled chicken and tuna, but don't forget that low fat dairy and beans (especially edamame) are gerat sources of protein too!
- Pack leftovers. You probably put a lot more time into cooking a healthy dinner than you do choosing something for lunch. Why not let that time well-spent carry over? Dinner leftovers make GREAT lunches!
- Find what works and stick with it. You might crave variety, but for me, I like to stick with what works. I have a few go-to lunches that I like to pack and usually stick with them. I know that they'll provide me with enough food to fuel my day and my workouts, I know they are a great source of lean protein and they ALWAYS include fruit, which I LOVE!
- Pack the night before. This one I learned from my mom (who packed me a lunch every day for 12 years - thanks mom!). If you're anything like me, you're running around all morning frantically getting ready to leave the house. If I had to add packing a lunch to the list of things in the morning, I'm not sure it would get done, so I pack the night before - that way it's guaranteed (I just have to remember to bring it)!
What's FitYaf eating for lunch?
- Avocado egg salad
- Tuna mixed with hummus and feta cheese
- Low-fat string cheese
- Cabot extra light sharp cheddar
- FRUIT, FRUIT & MORE FRUIT (this can be fruit salad that I've cut up on the weekend or whole fruits)
- Dried apricots
- Greek yogurt (typically plain mixed with cinnamon, but I do have the fruit kind every now and again)
- Ham or turkey on Joesph's Lavash bread