Getting out the door on time in the morning can be a struggle, but building in time to pack a lunch seems near impossible. Here's how four Sharp dietitians prepare homemade, well-balanced lunches every day of the week.
Barbara Bauer, program manager of clinical nutrition at Sharp Coronado Hospital
My go-to healthy lunch is leftovers from the night before, which I prepare as I'm cleaning up the dinner dishes. I find it easy to make a salad from my dinner vegetables and add shrimp, salmon or chicken; I bring some salad dressing on the side. Keep the lettuce separate and add some extra flavor with fresh herbs like basil or cilantro, or try toasting nuts and pumpkin seeds as a topping for some added crunch. It is fun to experiment and get creative with food combinations.
Angelea Bruce, certified specialist in oncology nutrition at Sharp HealthCare
Homemade snack packs
One of my favorite, almost no-prep lunches is a handful of whole-wheat crackers with an individually packaged serving of hummus, cottage cheese "salad" (see recipe below) and a small piece of dark chocolate for dessert.
The crackers, hummus and fruit are all excellent sources of filling fiber and energy-boosting complex carbohydrates. The cottage cheese is a good source of protein that helps sustain my energy level throughout the afternoon. The added nuts, flaxseed meal and olive oil offer a good dose of heart-healthy fat. Finally, the spinach and dark chocolate are great sources of beneficial phytonutrients.
Cottage Cheese "Salad"
Yields 1 serving
2 cups baby spinach, coarsely chopped into smaller pieces
1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese
1 small orange or clementine, peeled and segmented
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup fresh raspberries or sliced strawberries
2 teaspoons flaxseed meal
1 to 2 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts or almonds
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar or lemon juice
The night before or day of, layer all salad ingredients in the listed order in a plastic or glass bowl with a lid. Finish by drizzling with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar or lemon juice. Keep refrigerated before enjoying.
Kendra Busalacchi, registered dietitian at Sharp Grossmont Hospital
For a quick and easy 10-minute lunch prep, I go classic with a good sandwich. Sandwiches can be quick, easy, healthy and portable. My favorite go-to sandwich includes avocado and cucumber. I use whole-grain bread, hummus as a spread, sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, avocado and arugula. You can also use a whole-grain pita pocket instead of bread.
Tracey Grant, registered dietitian and program manager at Sharp Rees-Stealy
Freezer meal prep
I love to meal prep on the weekend, portion the food into individual servings and stash them in the freezer. That way, all I have to do each morning is grab my homemade, frozen entree on my way out the door.
If I'm not pulling something from my freezer stash, I tend to put together a no-cook meal, balanced with protein, healthy fat and whole food-based carbohydrates. You can get creative, but I usually go for:
- 2 Persian cucumbers
- 3 to 4 fresh radishes
- 1 small avocado
- 1 apple
- 1 single-serving packet of nuts or nut butter
- 3 ounces deli turkey