Students, bachelors, young adults, busy moms , all have one thing in common – they are busy and cannot dedicate hours in the kitchen. At the same time, they want to live a healthy lifestyle. Now, in such a situation, grabbing a pizza at work and guzzling coffee to fill stomach is definitely not a great idea!
This situation is worse if you want to pack “Indian” food. Indian food, primarily is heavy and spicy. It takes time to cook Indian dishes and guess what – most of the Asian dishes tend to have a powerful aroma. I am sure none of us want lingering food aromas at the workplace!
Well, I am in the same situation – wanting to stay and eat healthy but who has the time to go to a farmer`s market, come home and rustle up a healthy work lunch? But in a quest to shed a few pounds and start leading a healthy lifestyle, I knew I needed to pack a nutritious lunch and some healthy snack for my work day.
I am no expert but after some research and experimenting, here are few brown bag lunch and snack ideas that you can carry to work.
- Leftovers are a great! Pack it the next day for your lunch at work. Throw in a pack of Greek yogurt and a fruit as your snack and your day becomes easy, nutritious and cheap!
- I love Multi grain Pasta and the fact that it can be made in a few minutes is icing on the cake.
Heat some olive oil, saute veggies of your choice (carrots, peas, broccoli, olives, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms etc.) and cook till al dente. If you want to add some proteins to your lunch pack, add some lean chicken (no fat, only proteins!) and cook for some more time. Add marinara sauce and a spoon of white sauce (melt very little butter, add some all purpose flour, cook for a minute, add some milk and let it thicken for a few minutes).
Have some green tea in the afternoon along with a fruit. If you want an “Indian” touch, add some leftover Murgh Tikka.
In this yummy lunch, you have some “indulgent” white sauce, healthy veggies and some proteins!
- Another lunch idea which I simply love and can be made in few minutes are Stuffed Pita pockets. They might be a little difficult to buy in India, so substitute it with whole grain or brown bread.
Pop the bread/pita pocket in the toaster and toast it. For some fiber, add salad mix (if you do not want to buy the salad mix packet, just cut/shred some carrots, peas and lettuce). On the inside of the pocket or the bread, just add a dollop of hummus (if it is there in your fridge. If not, any yogurt or cream based salad dressing is fine).
For vegetarians, chick pea fritters are a great idea but if you want more proteins, tuna or lean cooked chicken will do wonders for taste and nutrition.
To make your day even more interesting, take a protein shake to work along with a banana (for some potassium)
This lunch is filling, tasty (can be modified according to your taste), nutritious and very easy to assemble. It is full of fiber, proteins and some carbs (needed for your afternoon energy at work!)
- For some Indian cuisine, nutritious lunch idea, I experimented with Murgh Palak (Spinach Chicken) and was pleasantly surprised that no aroma wafted across the office!
Boil some spinach, puree it and keep it aside. Heat very little oil, saute very little onions (you want to pack it for office!), add very little garlic and let it cook for a minute. Add the diced chicken (lean), some chili powder (or green chilies or paprika), coriander powder, cumin powder and cook cook till chicken is done. Add the Palak (spinach) puree and cook further for a few minutes. Take some boiled rice or flat bread to have it with.
For a snack, a home made parfait or fruits and nuts will be great!
Enjoy this lunch which is packed with proteins, fiber, good carbs and vitamins!
There are quite a few other options like :
- Chicken Rice – Mix rice, chicken, Indian masala (or any flavoring to your liking) and cook in a rice cooker
- Soya Rice – Mix rice, half boiled soya chunks, desired veggies, desired flavorings (chicken broth or some Indian masala) and cook in rice cooker
- Tuna salad sandwich – Mix some tuna, salt, pepper and some veggies and make a sandwich
These are just some of the things that I tried and experimented with. Do not let your packed lunch revolve around sandwiches (too much of bread is also not good). Experiment and invest a few extra minutes in planning for next day`s lunch. Along with it being nutritious, you want a tasty lunch/ snack.
It’s all for a healthy tomorrow!