If you’re anything like me, making and eating a healthy lunch consistently during the workweek can be hard. I created this simple lunch formula to help you tackle that problem and make healthy lunches effortlessly during the week.
Imagine this scenario for a sec:
It’s suddenly noon, you realize you’re starving and have no idea what to make for lunch. You look hopefully in your fridge and realize there’s no food in the house. After checking your pantry, you come up with half a bag of stale potato chips and some trail mix. You know you really should make something substantial but you have a meeting in 30 minutes and the effort to figure out what to make is too much. So you throw in the towel on eating a healthy meal and the potato chips and trail mix end up being your lunch.
Does this ever happen to you? Well let me tell you, you are so not alone! I think we’ve all been here at one point or another.
As unhealthy and boring as potato chips and trail mix would be in place of lunch, they illustrate an important point.
WHAT DOESN’T GET PLANNED DOESN’T GET DONE!
This is especially true during the working week when our minds are busy with meetings, to-dos and our next project. The energy and motivation to figure out what to make yourself for lunch, plus the time required to cook something nourishing and filling without previous planning is too much! That’s when we usually turn to snacking all day. Think back to the last time this happened to you. By the end of the day were you still hungry? Perhaps you weren’t actually hungry but still not fully satisfied?
That feeling is your body telling you, “Hey, you didn’t give me enough hearty, filling, nourishing, cell-building food today. You didn’t sit down or take a few minutes to enjoy your meals. I’m undernourished!”
Whenever this happens to me, there’s a super simple formula I use to create a quick, low-effort, healthy lunch. I call it a formula (rather than a recipe), because it can be easily adapted to what you have on hand. The formula can taste totally different by adding various flavors, spices, and herbs to suit different cultural palettes. Plus, components of the formula can be easily added, substituted with leftovers, or left out completely. Keep reading to find out what I mean!
The Lunch Formula
Here’s the easy lunch formula I use to create different lunches for the whole week:
Here’s why I love this formula:
- There are countless variations of each element that you can make to change things up.
- The bean dip can be made at the start of the week and will easily last until Thursday or Friday.
- This meal doesn’t make you sleepy & provides lots of energy for all your afternoon adventures (or, let’s be real, all those afternoon meetings!).
- No matter which variation you make, this formula packs in so many healthy foods, including the two biggies: legumes & greens (double points if your greens are also cruciferous — like kale!)
- You can easily add in any kind of whole grains, such as brown rice, quinoa, millet, or buckwheat to make this meal even more filling and hearty.
You’re probably thinking, “that all sounds great, but can I get a little more details?”
You got it!
Breaking Down The Formula
Let’s break down each component of the lunch formula to give you a better idea of how to make this formula work for you and your lifestyle!
BEAN DIP – This can be any dip you enjoy where beans are the star ingredient. There are so many options here but some of my favorites are classic hummus, spicy black bean dip, minty green pea puree, and garlicky white bean dip. If you need recipe ideas, just look on Pinterest! You’ll easily find 10-20 delicious options in five minutes.
ROASTED VEGGIES – The sky really is the limit here! You can roast just about any veggie for this meal. Look for vegetables in season, and go for anything that strikes your fancy. I love brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes in winter, asparagus in spring, zucchini, tomatoes, bell peppers, and eggplant in summer, and pumpkins, butternut squash, delicata squash (okay, pretty much all the squashes!), and cauliflower in fall. But you do you!
The great thing about roasted veggies is how easily you can tailor them to different cuisines by changing up the spices, seasoning, and condiments you use.
Here are just a few examples:
Indian food? Try roasting cubed sweet potatoes with garam masala spice mix, garlic powder, a pinch of salt, and a drizzle of olive oil.
Mexican food? Roast sliced red and green bell peppers with smoked and sweet paprika, plenty of garlic, rosemary, oregano, salt, pepper, and olive oil.
Middle Eastern food? Roast potato wedges or eggplant with lots of sumac, za’atar spice mix, and fresh thyme. As I said, the sky’s the limit here so get creative and play around with different roasted veggie + spice combos!
Onto the final piece of the formula!
GREENS – These can take many different forms! From roasted broccoli with soy sauce and nutritional yeast to simple sauteed kale with olive oil, garlic, and chili flakes, to a baby arugula salad with dijon vinaigrette… The point here is to get your greens in! Play around with roasting, steaming, sauteing, braising, and raw preparation techniques. Depending on the specific green involved, certain preparations will work better than others. For example, I almost always roast my broccoli with Tamari, garlic powder, and nutritional yeast because I love it so much that way. Figure out what types of greens you like and how you like to prepare them. Greens can be oh so delicious if you make them right, and that “right” way may change person-to-person, so, again, you do you!
A Final Note On The Lunch Formula:
This whole concept of a lunch formula is supposed to HELP, not hinder you! So don’t let the specifics get in the way of creating a nutritious, filling, flavorful lunch for yourself. If you have leftover chickpea curry or chili, by all means, use that in place of the bean dip if you want! You’re still getting those beans in, which is the important point. The same idea goes for the greens and roasted veggies.
If this post leaves you with only one thing, let it be this:
You deserve to nourish your body with healthy, delicious food!
Yes, even midway through your workday! Even when you don’t have much time and even when you have a million and one things on your to-do list. Let’s commit to no more chips and trail mix lunches, mkay? A little thought and effort at the beginning of the week mean lots of delicious and quick lunches during the week!