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In a lunch crunch? 4 easy solutions to grab and go

By Penelope Wall, August 12, 2010 - 9:57am

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I count myself lucky when it comes to lunch: I happen to work in a place where on most days all I have to do is wander down the hall to the EatingWell Test Kitchen around noon and fill my plate with all of the wonderful healthy food the lovely cooks put out on a daily basis. But most of us don’t have that luxury at work or at school and even I can’t always rely on it for a balanced meal.

Then there are those days when I feel so busy that even stepping away from my desk for a few minutes to grab a quick sandwich from the store will cause more anxiety than it’s worth. Sound familiar?

Related Link: 26 Quick Packable Low-Cal Lunches

The solution finally dawned on me: I’ve gotta have a back-up plan for those days when the options are slim and all of the forces are against my good intentions to eat a healthy meal. I don’t want to blow it by cramming down junk.

So I came up with this list of solutions for some of the biggest lunch challenges that get in my way:

1. I don’t have time.
This is a big one for me, since I'm always running a half-hour late no matter what time I get up in the morning. How on earth will I also have time to make lunch?
My solution: A simple lunch that takes less than ten minutes to prepare with minimal cleanup required. Like this: Strawberry & Cream Cheese Sandwich and more 10-minute recipes.

2. I don’t have the money.
Let’s face it: constantly shelling out cash for prepared food I could have made at home for less money (often healthier too) gets old fast. But a good lunch doesn’t have to be expensive.
My solution: Planning ahead. I’ll save money and calories by resisting takeout and instead bringing a packed lunch from home. I keep essential affordable healthy foods—beans, plain yogurt, tuna, eggs, bananas—in my kitchen at all times so I have no excuse for not making a satisfying, healthy lunch in a pinch. Try this: Curried Red Lentil Soup and more cheap lunches.

3. The bakery around the corner is calling my name.
I have a weakness for the veggie-and-cream-cheese-stuffed croissants from my local baker. Yes, they are so good. But SO BAAAAD.
My solution: Okay, so I’m not giving them up totally, but I’ve found a go-to recipe that satisfies my cheesy cravings without weighing me down. I make these Southwestern Cheese Paninis for dinner the night before, then bring the leftovers to work the next day. (Hot tip! My genius colleague Brierley discovered that these reheat quite nicely in the toaster oven.)

4. I’m feeling uninspired.
Even though my job revolves around food and healthy recipes, it’s amazing how often I find myself falling into the same eating rut day after day—it can get so boring!
My solution: I make a point of trying out one new recipe at least once a week. It doesn’t have to be difficult—just something that sounds delicious and makes me excited to eat a healthy meal. Like this: Parmesan Spinach Cakes or one of these Easy Light Lunches.

What’s preventing you from eating a healthy lunch? Tell us what you think below.

TAGS: Penelope Wall, Health Blog, Lunch

Penelope Wall
Penelope is Senior Digital Editor for EatingWell.

Penelope asks: What’s preventing you from eating a healthy lunch?

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