It’s the dreaded daily question: What should I eat for lunch? If you find it difficult to maintain the motivation to cook a new meal each day, you may want to consider the benefits of meal prepping. While it could be seen as “boring” and monotonous to get rid of variety in what you eat each week, it may actually be beneficial to your health.
Meal prepping may help you control your portion sizes, which helps keep your weight in check. It may also help:
- Reduce stress and ease the pressure of daily decision making
- Avoid the temptation of grabbing unhealthy but convenient foods
- Save money
- Save time
- Contribute to an overall well-balanced diet
If the idea of figuring out what to eat each day is intimidating, meal prepping a week’s worth of meals may help solve that problem.
“There are ways to make meal prepping less cumbersome,” said Katie Johnson, registered dietician and certified health and wellness coach. “Evaluate your leftover situation. Do you have leftover spaghetti, stir fry, or chicken you could pack? Otherwise start with your favorite protein. This could be cold cuts, hardboiled eggs, or rotisserie chicken; add in your favorite whole grain crackers, tortillas or starch, and round it out with your favorite veggies (precut carrots, cucumber, peppers, radishes – really whatever you like) and a piece of fruit or a small treat. Then you are set until your next meal.”
With many people juggling a return to the office and back-to-school, meal prepping may help you balance hectic weekday schedules. Stress can affect the motivation you might have to prepare and eat healthy meals. What’s more, chronic stress can lead to higher levels of the hormone cortisol, which can induce cravings for foods high in sugar and fat.
Lacking inspiration for what to pack? Check out this tasty and healthy quinoa salad. Set aside time to meal prep on Sunday and you’ll be done with lunches for the whole week.
Quinoa and Chickpea Salad
- 2 cups quinoa, cooked
- ½ cup green pepper, diced
- 1 cup water
- 2 tablespoons red onion, diced
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 2 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
- 3 tablespoons radicchio, individual leaf, sliced
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- ½ cup cucumber, diced
- ½ cup garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill
- 1 tablespoon chopped green onion
- 1 cup Greek salad dressing (*see recipe below)
- Cut up all the vegetables as noted and place in a mixing bowl.
- Zest the lemon in the bowl.
- Add the beans, quinoa, fresh herbs and dressing.
- Mix well and enjoy!
*Greek Salad Dressing
- 2 crushed garlic cloves
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Salt to taste
Regardless of whether you think meal prepping is right for you, bringing your own lunch may be a healthier thing to do. Packing your lunch at home gives you control to bring healthier options and avoid potentially unhealthy fast food or high-calorie cafeteria food. And, not to mention, it can help you save money, which is certainly an added benefit.