By Marielle Mangano, RD, CDN
Many people view back-to-school season as the opportunity to start fresh with some new, healthy habits. After a summer filled with vacations and barbeques, many people are ready to get back to their normal routines. Rev things up with these healthy lunch ideas perfect for either work or school. Each meal packs in both protein and fiber to keep you satisfied through your busy afternoons:
- Salads – A salad is a great lunch if you do it right. The key is to make your salad satisfying enough without sacrificing unnecessary calories and fat. Avoid croutons, fried noodles, bacon bits, fried and processed meats, and creamy dressings. Instead, pile on fresh greens and crisp vegetables to add volume to your meal for little to no calories. For some extra flavor, have a small amount of nuts or seeds, low-fat cheese, avocado, and/or light dressing or oil and vinegar. Finish off your salad with a lean protein to keep you full through your afternoon slump!
- Sandwich – Start your sandwich off right with whole wheat bread or a low carb wrap. The fiber from whole grains is slower to digest and will keep you satisfied for longer. Avoid high-fat condiments like mayonnaise, sour cream, and heavy dressings or sauces. Instead, opt for diet-friendly flavors like spicy mustard, hummus, avocado, fresh pesto, or salsa. And of course, fill your sandwich with lean protein and fresh vegetables. Be sure to avoid overly processed deli meats and cheeses!
- Protein shake – A protein shake is a good option for those on the go during lunch time. Be sure to choose a protein drink or powder with less than 200 calories, 20-30 g of protein, and less than 5 g of sugar per serving.
- Greek Yogurt – Greek yogurt is another high-protein option for those on the go during lunch time. Most Greek yogurts pack 10-15 g of protein per 4 oz. serving! Just be sure to choose a yogurt with less than 15 g of sugar per serving. Pairing Greek yogurt with a piece of fruit, a salad, and/or nuts is a great way to complete the meal.
- Leftovers – Enjoy your favorite meal from the night before all over again! Leftovers require little to no prep and prevent unnecessary food waste. Flavorful chilis and vegetable-packed stews are great meals that will last you all week long. Leftover chicken from dinner can easily be added to your favorite salad or sandwich for the next day.
Marielle Mangano is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who is currently working with Bariatric and Medical Weight Management patients. She works with patients to help them achieve their health and weight loss goals.