Tag: lunch

Lunches: Soups, Salads, Sandwiches & More!

Lunches: Soups, Salads, Sandwiches & More!

It’s the summer months and soups, salads, and sandwiches seem to be go-to lunch choices for many people.  These can be relatively healthy items if you make sure you are diligent in how you make them or how you order them at your favorite restaurant (mine is McAlister’s:-) ).

During the week, I usually bring salads, lettuce wraps, or sandwiches to work.  One thing that I consistently have heard time and time again is that salads are not filling, they seem boring, and it tends to lead to snacking later because the person still feels hungry.  My best advice is to make salads frequently enough to where your body gets used to light, healthy lunches.  Further, load salads up with a variety of vegetables and fruits, nuts, craisins, deli meat, and other great add-ins.  I like to make a variety of different hearty salads throughout the week.  The key is to make different salads each day so you don’t get bored with them.  For example, I make chef salads, Olive Garden type salads, garden salads, Cobb salads, etc. that have different add-ins and different dressings. Just be careful putting too many add-ins in your salads such as cheese, croutons, dressings, or lots of bacon because these quickly add to the calories and can make a healthy one not so healthy!

For sandwiches, I typically use lettuce as my “bread” to make lettuce wraps.  These are easy, delicious, and save calories.  You can use different varieties of lunch meat and cheese to change things up such as turkey, ham, salami, roast beef, and provolone, mozzarella, colby jack, etc.  I typically enjoy the ultra thin cheese slices, but that’s up to you.  If I do make a sandwich using bread, I try to do a 1/2 sandwich and a 1/2 salad to keep it healthy.  Again, your choices are endless to what you like so you can change it up easily.  Just remember that condiments and sauces typically add a lot of extra calories to your lunch!  I try to stick to one condiment on my sandwiches such as mustard or light mayo (I also really like dijonnaise).

If you aren’t a “make and take” type lunch person because you can’t get yourself to make it the night before or can’t get yourself up early enough in the morning to make it, consider places that have great soup, salad, and sandwich combinations.  I suggest that you always get a salad with your meal and then choose a soup or a sandwich.  The greens are great for you and the sandwich or soup can be your less healthy choice.  Remember that cream-based soups tend to be higher in calories just like bread for sandwiches.  Also, be sure to ask for dressing on the side so you can control how much you put on.  I am a huge fan of McAlister’s Deli because they accommodate my food allergy.  Plus, they serve a great variety of salads and sandwiches that allow me to change things up, which I enjoy during the summer months.  One thing about McAlister’s is that it seems very healthy, but the calories add up quickly if you don’t pay attention to what you are ordering. They have a list of spud, soup, salad, and sandwich combinations on their website that are under 600 calories.  Check it out if you are curious on how many calories your typical go-to meal is!

Lastly, with your lunches and during summer in general, many people enjoy iced lemonade and iced tea, but remember these popular summer drinks add on the calories and are usually high in sugar.  You may think having a healthy meal will allow for the extra add on calories for your summer drinks, but be aware of what you are consuming.  Remember that your best option is to estimate your calories as best as you can so you aren’t mistakenly eating a “healthy” soup, salad, or sandwich combo that is actually as much as two meals combined.  Sometimes eating your sandwich at lunch and then taking your salad for later in the afternoon or vice versa is a great option.  Consider reading Find what works for YOU! and All about eating! for other great tips on eating such as full versus stuffed, eating small meals, and pacing yourself when you eat.

Happy healthy lunching (and eating)! 🙂


Pack a lunch & make ahead dinners…saving time, calories, and money!

Pack a lunch & make ahead dinners…saving time, calories, and money!

I actually knew exactly what I wanted to talk about this week.  I am an avid lunch taker because I don’t like eating out during the week.  There aren’t enough choices (especially for someone with a food allergy) and it is so expensive to eat out.  I can buy a package of crackers, cheese, and lunch meat, carrots, apples, and other miscellaneous lunch items that will last me a week or more for the same price of what many people pay for eating out for one lunch!  Not to mention, it is much healthier and I can save some calories that will later allow me to indulge my sweet tooth with a sweet treat (if I so choose)!

The number one complaint I hear from people who eat out constantly?  I don’t have time to pack a lunch and there isn’t enough time for me to make a dinner in between school ending and after school practices and activities beginning.  My response?  I do NOT buy that as a viable excuse!  Sorry to all those who find that offensive.  We ALL have very full schedules and lead very busy lives, but making a lunch takes about 30 seconds to 2 minutes (and yes, for those who do not believe me, I have timed it out)!  You can pack a lunch and do 10 or more jumping jacks during the commercial of your favorite show in the evening! 😉

The next complaint is how to make dinners even when your life seems so crazy that nothing more feels like it can be squeezed in.  Some wise words my mom once told me are, “You can always find a way and have the ability to put more on your plate.  There’s always a way to do more and fit more in no matter how busy you are.”  The solution for all the busy parents, educators, workers, and people in the world?  Make a plan for the week on Sunday by sitting down and making a menu for the week as well as making some dinners ahead of time, too.  For example, make crock pot meals, make ahead casseroles (there are plenty that can be made in healthy ways, if you need some inspiration feel free to ask me or visit Pinterest and the hundreds of other recipe websites online), and consider eating leftovers at least one day a week which can be an ultra time saver if you are in a huge hurry!  You can make frozen dinners that can be pulled out of the freezer, prepare chicken, steak, or other meats over your weekend that can be thrown in salads, quesadillas, casseroles, fajitas, etc. and can make dinner a cinch to pull together at the last minute.

I understand time is often precious and there never seems to be enough of it…ever…even when you get up 25 minutes before your kids, go to bed 30 minutes earlier, etc, but I do know that you will thank yourself if you prepare your meals for your family.  They will not only be healthier, but you will save money, time, and calories by making food ahead.  Further, and maybe most importantly you will also be bringing your family together for a meal, which is one of the most precious memories you can make for you and your kids.  Memories at the dinner table are often some of the greatest memories you can give to your family, friends, and others!  P.S. Remember that you will also have more luck with your weight loss and fitness goals if you pack your lunch and make your dinners because you can control the portions and what’s in the meal (sodium, fat content, oils, etc)!


Snacking can be an enemy…choose snacks wisely!

Snacking can be an enemy…choose snacks wisely!

Snacking is something that I have never really understood because I am not a big snacker.  I don’t love chips or candy bars or have cravings that I feel like I need to fill, but I do know that a lot of people do have snack urges and feel the need to satisfy their snack tooth with something.  Snacking, as long as controlled, can be a great way to provide energy to your mind and body.  It may be just what you need to give your mind and body a mid-morning or mid-afternoon boost, so do what works best for you based on your lifestyle.  While I don’t encourage myself to snack because I feel that snacking is often carried on throughout the day or ends up adding up to an additional meal, I do have a few pointers that I utilize in my daily meal preparations that can also be used when preparing and eating snacks.

The best way to include snacks in your day, and I cannot stress the following enough: measure them out AND place the measured amount in baggies or containers so you will NOT be able to continue snacking until you decide to stop.  It is best to give yourself a specific amount of food, which is why measuring out portions is important.  So rather than taking a bag of chips to work to snack on throughout the day (or all week), measure out single serve portions so you don’t overeat and add additional unnecessary calories throughout the course of your day.

Another quick tip is if you know you are going to be out during a meal such as running errands around lunch or dinner time and may find that you want to grab a bite to eat by going through a drive-thru window, take some veggies or a snack that will hold you over until you get home to fix your lunch or dinner.  Not only does this save you money, it saves you calories, and can help you from feeling starving by the time you eat next!

Here are a few options for snacks that I often eat with my wrap or sandwich at lunch:

-hummus with veggies

-trail mix of craisins, dark chocolate chips, and almonds

-popcorn single serve bags

-swiss cheese and whole grain crackers

-apple slices and peanut butter

Try to keep snacks to 100-125 calories so you aren’t consuming the amount of calories in a meal as a snack.  While I won’t say happy snacking because I am not going to encourage it, I will say happy healthy eating and making choices that will allow you to feel more energized!


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