|A simple, hearty sandwich for lunch.|
The Simple Lunch - Healthy and Satisfying Any Day of the WeekMy favorite lunch is a sandwich. Not only is it a lunch item that's fast and easy to prepare, it is also a comfort food that always reminds me of my childhood. I associate sandwiches, particularly baloney, lettuce, and mayonnaise sandwiches, with long drives in the country and days at the beach. My mother wrapped our sandwiches in waxed paper and placed them in a small brown paper bag along with an orange or apple, and sometimes a cookie. The "beach" sandwiches were the best; after a morning of being tucked under a blanket beneath the shade of an umbrella, they were warm and fragrant with such a distinctive aroma that I can just about smell them right now. Even today, a day trip to the beach is never quite right without baloney sandwiches.
Although a sandwich is my favorite lunch item, I also enjoy salads and soups. Here's a suggested list of lunch items, some of which I prepare ahead of time, that take less than five minutes to toss together for a simple lunch at home, at work, or at the beach. I'm all about grab and go.
Grab and Go Lunch Items
- Homemade or purchased soup.
- Garden salad and dressing.
- Whole pieces of fruit.
When it comes to garden salads, I prepare ingredients ahead of time by washing, drying, and slicing my favorite salad ingredients and storing them in my refrigerator's vegetable bin in individual containers. When it's time to assemble a garden lunch salad, all I have to do is grab the prepared pieces I want, throw them in a bowl, and toss with salad dressing.
Make Your Weekly Lunch Calendar and Shopping ListOnce you have a good idea of what you'd like to eat for lunch for the week, make a simple calendar that shows the lunch items for each day. Focus on the foods you like (after all, you are pleasing only yourself) and whatever foods you require to meet any special health needs you have. Also think about how much food you need to feel satisfied.
Your grab and go lunch calendar may look like this:
- 1 or 2 heads of lettuce
- 2 Cucumbers
- 1 Onion, sweet or red
- 1 Pint grape tomatoes
- Salad dressing
- 1 Pound grapes
- 2 Bananas (one will be for Saturday's fruit salad)
- 1 Pear
- 1 Orange
- 1 Loaf bread
- 1/2 Pound ham
- 1/4 Pound Swiss cheese
- Sandwich spread (mustard or mayonnaise, or both, or salad dressing)
- 1 Box crackers
- 1 small container of berries in season (for Saturday's fruit salad)
- 1 Head fresh garlic
- 1 Container yogurt (8 ounces)
- 2 or 3 Servings soup (your own homemade soup or commercially prepared)
Tips for Managing Your Weekly Lunch PlanTake a Day Off
First and most important, devote one weekend day to eating out, at least for breakfast and lunch, as in brunch. Combine the two on a Sunday and treat yourself to a meal that requires no thinking, preparation, or planning. Even better, enjoy that Sunday combined meal with a friend or family member.
About Fresh Produce
Use fruits and vegetables, fresh meats and cheeses, within three to five days of purchasing them. I'd love to be able to grocery shop one day a week for everything on my weekly menu plan, but that's not always possible. Plan on a quick trip to the market a second time in the week to replenish fresh foods.
About the Shopping List
No doubt, you already have items in your kitchen like sandwich spreads, salad dressings, and garlic. These probably don't need to be on your weekly lunch shopping list. The shorter that list, the better.
Add Fruits to Salads
Salads don't need to be boring. Take some of those fresh berries and grapes and add them to your garden salads for variety.
Could starting with lunches be a first positive step in your adventure toward total meal planning for one?
Photo source: Meneer Zjeroen CC BY 2.0