Back to school – back to routine.

As much as I enjoy the relaxing atmosphere of the summer, I do enjoy getting back to the routine of fall. Whether or not you or kids in your family are in school, fall is a time when there is a shift and with that may come a shift in eating habits as well.

If you read my blogs or have worked with me, you know I appreciate the value of planning ahead. Fall is a great time to refocus your planning. Use some of these ideas to start lists of lunches that you or your family will enjoy and keep your kitchen well stocked so lunch will always be a delicious, nourishing part of your day!

1. Fill your thermos.
A thermos is a great tool for your kitchen to allow for a simple hot meal for lunch. You may be fortunate to have a place to reheat at your office or school, but often that is not the case. Fill a thermos with hot water, let it sit for 5 minutes to heat up the thermos. Dump out the water and refill with your hot meal.

a. Homemade soup – making your own soup can be so much more flavorful and a healthier option than canned soups. Make a large batch and freeze in individual containers for quick grab and go lunches.

Sweet Potato, Apple & Bean Soup
Chop 2 large sweet potatoes, 2 apples and 1 onion into chunks. Toss with 2 tsp. minced garlic, olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast in a 450 degree oven for 20-30 minutes (stirring 2-3 times throughout cooking to avoid burning) or until tender when pierced with a fork. Mix with 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth and place in blender or use immersion blender to blend thoroughly. Add more broth to achieve desired consistency. After blended, toss with 1 cup canned chickpeas. Store in single serving containers in the freezer. Heat and serve.

b. Pasta, Rice or Quinoa Salad – Starting with a grain, adding protein, vegetables and/or fruit with or without added sauce is a simple and delicious lunch option. Click here to check out my Pinterest page for great options such as Cherry, wild rice, quinoa salad or Turkey & farro salad.

c. Leftovers – Any leftover from dinner the night before can be reheated and kept in a thermos for a very easy lunch option.

2. Fill a bento box.
A bento box is a single portion home packed meal that is common in Japanese cuisine. You can create your own “bento box” with a mix of containers or there are a multitude of fun containers you can purchase for easy use of this meal option. Simply select from each of the categories for a balanced meal rich in nutrients.

    1. Protein – leftover cooked poultry, beef or seafood, canned salmon or tuna, canned beans, hard boiled eggs or egg salad, cheese or yogurt.
    2. Fruits and vegetables – grapes, melon, berries, chopped peppers, cucumbers, carrots, cauliflower or broccoli.
    3. Grain or other starch – fruits, vegetables and protein can make a complete meal, but you may want to add whole grain crackers, a slice of bread, rice, noodles or quinoa.

3. Spruce up a sandwich.
If you are tired of the same old turkey sandwich, find a way to make it more interesting. If you have a delicious lunch to look forward to and you enjoy, you will feel satisfied and less likely to be looking for a snack shortly after lunch.

    1. Bread options – there are many options besides simply whole wheat bread that will help to make a sandwich more interesting including whole wheat pita, tortilla or English muffin.
    2. Protein sources – use any of the above as protein sources for your sandwich as well.
    3. Top with vegetables – add crunch, flavor and nutrition with leafy greens (romaine, spinach, kale), sliced cucumbers, tomato or sweet peppers.
    4. Add flavor – instead of just mayonnaise or mustard, consider sun dried tomato paste, pesto, or flavorful cheeses such as feta or goat cheese.

4. Make a great salad.
A salad can be a great way to get lots of nourishing vegetables into your day. But make sure it includes variety and protein and fat to keep you full after your meal.

    1. Lots of veggies – lettuce (romaine, spinach, kale, raddichio, cabbage) + broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, cucumbers, sweet peppers, tomatoes, radishes, or mushrooms.
    2. Add protein – meat, beans, eggs, or cheese.
    3. Nourishing dressing – homemade dressings may include extra virgin olive oil, vinegar (balsamic, orange, apple cider, etc.), mustard, fresh herbs (cilantro, parsley, basil, mint).

The ideas are endless. Start with a list of just 4-5 lunches that sound good and are relatively easy to prepare. Post that on your refrigerator so you don’t forget what great options you have when Monday comes. Keep your kitchen stocked, plan ahead and you will be better nourished, will save money (less take out lunches) and enjoy lunch again!

If you are ready to make changes to your life to end the cycle of feeling sick, bloated and being overweight – click here to contact Lynda to learn how to create healthy eating and healthy living that will work for you.

There is no one size fits all approach to nutrition and healthy living. Recommendations given are not intended to replace the personalized guidance of a health professional.