Beat "Paper Bag Boredom" by Incorporating New Flavors and Textures Into Your Lunch
Packing your own lunch for work benefits your health and your wallet, because eating out typically means eating more calories, fat and sodium than you'd like—not to mention spending lots of money. Making your own healthy lunches also allows you to control your portion sizes and the quality of ingredients you use and doesn't need to take a ton of time in the morning, either. Take a break from your typical lunch staples with one of these yummy lunches.
1. Grilled Salmon Salad
Eating a protein-packed lunch is one of the best ways to stick to your diet for the rest of the day, because protein will keep you full for hours, and help you avoid the temptation to hit the vending machine mid-afternoon. Simply flake a filet of grilled salmon and add it to a spinach salad, along with other healthy toppings, such as blueberries, chopped almonds and cherry tomatoes. Finish off with a homemade vinaigrette—a honey mustard one will complement the flavor of the salad.
2. Cottage Cheese Tuna Sandwich
A healthy lunch doesn't have to be fancy. In some cases, just putting a healthier twist on a lunchtime staple will do the trick. Enter the cottage cheese tuna sandwich, a twist that uses cottage cheese in place of mayo for a more nutritious sandwich. Cottage cheese comes loaded with lean protein—especially if you buy the nonfat kind—and works perfectly in place of fatty and calorie-laden mayo. Use whole-wheat bread and load up your sandwich with lettuce and tomatoes for a healthy lunch that takes just a few minutes to prepare.
3. Cauliflower Rice Burrito Bowl
Make a burrito bowl more diet-friendly by using sauteed riced cauliflower in place of white or brown rice to cut both carbs and calories. Top the burrito bowl with fresh salsa, which is naturally low in calories, plus lean grilled chicken or shrimp, sauteed peppers and onions and a splash of hot sauce to taste. If you need a few extra calories, serve it with homemade guacamole on the side—you'll get plenty of healthy monounsaturated fat.
4. Collard Wrap
Chances are, you're no stranger to eating wraps for lunch, but what you may not know is that even a small tortilla adds hundreds of calories to your meal. You can cut the calories (and save yourself some carbohydrates) by using a collard leaf to make your wrap instead. Simply cut away part of the stem so the leaf can lie flat, steam the leaf for 30 seconds until it becomes pliable and then fill it with toppings such as tomato and sliced turkey for a creamy wrap or with grilled chicken, romaine, tomato and just a touch of asiago for a Caesar salad–inspired one.
Sylvie Tremblay is a food and lifestyle writer based in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. A green smoothie aficionado, she's written about delicious and healthy eating for Livestrong, Healthy Directions Magazine, Vitamix, Kroger and more.