I work, go to school four nights a week, and hit the gym almost every day. I very seldom buy lunch. I always pack all of my day's food...even if I have to go to the gym, and work and then school after. Yes, it can be tedious, but with the right planning tools it's pretty simple to get into a routine of packing a healthy lunch and snacks every day. You may be wondering what the heck to do when you do get home and you're too exhausted to make dinner. Well, that can also be resolved with a little planning. Here are some tips I've picked up.
Have healthy munchies on hand
Picture this scenario: You're starving after being swamped with errands and work all day, craving any piece of greasy food you see or smell. We've all been there. I don't even need to tell you you gotta eat more of your calories earlier in the day...meaning a hearty breakfast, people! Nevertheless, we all get these moments and they can be unavoidable in this crazy world. For those times you just wanna snack, make sure you have something healthy and ready to snack on in your fridge. What I do every few days is buy some cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, cucumber and bell peppers and wash and cut them as soon as I get home. I leave them in a container in my fridge so they're good to go for munchie attacks, to throw in a salad or to pack a quick snack for your lunch. Eating a whole bag of carrots sure beats a bag of Lay's.
Have cooked grains ready to go
A great way to plan ahead for the week's meals is to cook up a big pot of your favourite grain and use it in various meals throughout the week. For example, you can make 4 cups of plain brown rice and leave it in your fridge. This can be used to:
- Make a porridge: Heat it in a small saucepan with soy milk, mashed banana, cocoa powder and cinnamon.
- Make nori rolls: Just buy nori (seaweed) sheets and make a cone stuffed with rice and chopped veggies. Sushi is not that far off and it's pretty simple to make, too.
- Make into a one-pot dish: Add some tomato paste, beans and veggies with a few herbs and spices.
Don't underestimate the power of a great salad
If you think salad is all rabbit food, you got it all wrong. Having a great salad for dinner is healthy, delicious, inexpensive, quick and very satisfying. I would say I do a big salad almost every other day for at least one of my weekday meals...and I don't get sick of it because it's always different! Just start with some baby greens, throw on your pre-chopped veggies and go from there...nuts, seeds, dried fruit, gomashio, nori, leftover grains, tofu, tempeh bacon...whatever looks good, add it! A delicious and easy vinaigrette I do is equal parts olive oil and umeboshi vinegar with some fresh minced garlic. I will include another one of my favourite dip/dressing recipes below that will also be a great topper to your super salad.
Super quick recipe ideas:
Tij's Overnight Oatmeal
Put 1/4 cup steel cut oats, 1/2 cup nut milk, cinnamon to taste, one mashed banana (or avocado), 1 tbsp carob or cacao nibs and 1 tbsp nuts (optional) in a glass jar. Stir, close jar lid and refrigerate. Enjoy warm or cold the following morning.
Avocado Garlic Dip
Blend 1 ripe avocado, 1 tbsp miso, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/2 cup diced onion, 1/4 cup lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, 1 diced hot pepper, 2 cloves garlic, and sea salt (to taste) in a food processor. Serve with chopped veggies for dipping. NOTE: This recipe is from the book The Idiot's Guide to the Raw Food Detox.
Typical Tij Salad
Salad with baby spinach, shredded cabbage, carrots, peppers, cucumber, broccoli, sesame seeds and chick peas, topped with umeboshi-olive oil-garlic vinaigrette.
Quick n' Easy Steamed Root Veggies
Chop up either (or a combo) of the following: sweet potato, squash, parsnips, carrots, beets or turnip. Lightly steam until desired tenderness is reached. Top with tamari and olive oil with a few toasted pumpkin seeds (heat in a dry skillet until lightly brown and start to "pop"). DELICIOUS!