Fast food, that’s what so many people look for when they go out on their lunch break or need to eat in a hurry., but what if fast and healthy lunches ( with no cooking necessary) can be put together by picking up a few items from your local supermarket.
I’m not talking about picking up sodium loaded subs and prepared meals. I’m talking about mini meals you can create for $14.00 or way less and still have leftovers.
When heading to the supermarket, focus on shopping on the outsides of the store, because this is where the fresh food is – the bakery, deli, and produce. The key is to refine your options by eating minimally processed foods- foods that aren’t loaded in fat, sodium and sugars. By keeping yourself limited to the outside rim of the store, you are keeping yourself to the freshest and healthiest foods.
Here are some of my favorite products I pick up during my one hour lunch break. It’s all about being creative and realizing there are healthy alternatives , so there should be no excuses for eating badly on the days you do forget your lunch at home or are just on the go.
Fage Greek Yogurt
I love these yogurt cups, they’re absolutely satisfying and guilt free. It’s packed with probiotics, protein, and is sourced from milk and cream supplied from rBGH-free* cows. This means you get all the calcium-rich benefits of real dairy ingredients with nothing artificial.
Protein: 18 grams Sugars:8 grams Price: $1.20
Duck Trap Wild Salmon Sockeye
As a fatty fish, it also helps you consume your oil allowance for the day — between 5 and 7 teaspoons, according to the USDA. It also contains essential nutrients that benefit your health. Smoked salmon has some nutritional drawbacks, however, so it should be consumed in moderation as part of a healthy diet.
The good: This food is a good source of Niacin, Vitamin B6 and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Protein, Vitamin B12 and Selenium, *Contains 473mg Of Omega·3 Fatty Acids Per This product is is also wild caught, not farm raised.
The bad: This food is very high in sodium.
Serving. I would really try to restrict this, if your diet is already high in sodium., if not enjoy it. =)
Protein: 17 grams for Price:~$9.00
Starkist Tuna Low Sodium Pouches
I also love these tuna pouches. I try to stick to the low sodium option whenever I can.
Because no draining is required, it’s perfect on a salad, in a sandwich, right out of the pouch or used as a substitute for beef or chicken in your favorite recipes.
Protein: 17 grams Sodium: 70 mg Price: ~$1.45
Wild Planet Wild Sardines in EVOO
If you are a sardine lover, or consider trying sardines for the first time. I would highly recommend this brand. It’s absolutely delicious and a top brand in its category. This powerhouse food will provide you with needed Omega 3, calcium, and they’re one of the few fish choices that are known to be low in toxins like mercury. And what I truly love about eating these, is the guilt free feeling knowing they are sustainable. Most sustainable sardines are from the Pacific. If you’re worried about over fishing, avoid sardines from the Atlantic and Mediterranean
Protein: 10 grams Calcium: 200 mg Price: $~2.40
Great Day Eggs, Hard Boiled
Just one egg provides 6 grams of protein and it’s considered as one serving!
The only thing about this product is to be is that it contains sodium benzoate / benzoic acid which is used to prevent the growth of microorganisms in acidic foods, BUT in this case it’s used as a natural substance.
However, in beverages with ascorbic acid (vitamin C), a chemical reaction creates small amount of benzene, a carcinogen, but this isn’t a soft drink, so you’re ok:)
Protein: 6 grams per egg Price: ~$2.75
Nitrate Free Turkey Breast
Protein: 12 grams per 2 ounces Sodium: 360mg Price:~4.70
Lunch/deli meats come in different levels of quality. Some are more processed than others. Some have more fat than others. Some are better cuts of meat than others. And some contain nitrites, which you really gotta watch out for.
The commonality between all lunch meats is the large amount of salt they contain. As a simple example, 3 oz of sliced turkey contains 1000 mg of sodium!! That’s almost half the recommended daily intake!
Pros: No Nitrates, No antibiotics used, No nitrites or nitrates added, Fully cooked, Minimally processed, No artificial ingredients, Gluten and casein free
My advice? If you really can’t live without your turkey on rye sandwich, try to have this brand meats in small amounts whenever possible.
Store Bought Hummus
Hummus is considered a healthy dip because it is full of heart healthy fats, high in protein and very satisfying. The beans also contain nice amounts of fiber. I always go with the store brand from my local grocery store, Publix, it’s minimally processed and is always fresh.
Look for hummus that is made with simple ingredients such as chickpeas, tahini, and olive oil. I wouldn’t eat Sabra, though. It’s usually made with GMO corn/vegetable/soybean oil and other iffy ingredients. A store bought hummus (that’s found in most grocery stores) that is good is Cedar organic. It’s made with organic ingredients – chickpeas, olive oil (a good hummus should be made with olive oil), and tahini.
Justin’s Classic Almond Butter Packets
Just one packet offers about 16% of your daily fiber is an extremely important part of your daily diet. Its best known benefit is its ability to help keep our bowels moving, it also helps with weight management by helping to keep you fuller longer.
1 Packet: Protein: 7 grams Sugars:1 grams Price: $~1.25
Pro’s: Great source of fiber, low in sugar, and good source of protein for it’s small size. Perfect addition to apples for a quick miday snack when you are craving something sweet
Minute Brown Rice
I really love this rice. It’s very convenient , has a nice texture, and has great flavor and packs in more than 16% of your daily fiber in one serving.
Protein: 5 grams Sodium: 160 mg Price: $3.25
Whole Wheat Pita Bread
Think Thin Protein & Fiber Hot Oatmeal
Protein: 10 grams Sugars: 9 grams Price: ~$1.75
Pros: Keeps you satisfied and can help control that midday sweet tooth.
Cons: While it does contain protein, and it’s to get some of your protein from supplemented items, keep in mind that they are not “natural” sources and that it’s not ideal to get protein only from processed goods. The added protein here comes puffed up from soy protein isolate.
Fruit & Vegetable Choices
Prepared Fruit Salad
NATURE’S PATH QI’A CHIA, BUCKWHEAT & HEMP CEREAL, CRANBERRY VANILLA
I don’t usually eat this by itself, but I would definitely soak this in my Greek Yogurt.
Pros: Good source of iron, more than 16% daily value of fiber, less than 1.5 tsp of sugar.
Cucina & Amore Quinoa Meal
These are yummy and sooooo convenient. They’re a little high on the sodium, but you can control how much seasoning you want to add, but if you’re like me and don’t eat many other high sodium foods, you should be fine. .
Protein: 3 grams Carbs: 13 grams Price: ~$2.75
I’m not a big fan of getting any kind of flavored/sweetened drinks. I just stick with water, and try to get a good quality at that. But here is one suggestion:
I really love kombucha, and especially this brand because it’s always for sale. I always get them at 2 for $4.00! If you’re not familiar with kombucha it’s praised for its health benefits. Recent studies showed that kombucha produces glucaric acid, which helps improve liver function. Kombucha is also known as an antioxidant and antibacterial agent. While it’s relatively new on the US market, it’s been consumed in China and Japan for centuries.Master Brew Kombucha is certified organic, non-GMO, non-dairy and gluten free. Naturally sweetened with stevia and contains no added sugar.
So if you’re looking to lose weight with Kombucha it’s best to drink at about 4 ounces before your meal, about 10-15 minutes before your meal.
If you are looking to maintain, or just general well being or help your digest your food, to drink it after your meal or to sip it a little bit during your meal.
5 Minute Meals
Avocado Smoked Salmon Pita Pockets
Warm Pita Bread + Smoked Salmon + Side of avocado
Take a pita, warm it up in the microwave for about 20-30 seconds, THEN add the cold smoked salmon and pieces of avocado slices. A filling quick easy sandwich. Don’t forget to add a side of vegetables!
Fully Loaded Almond Butter Rice Cakes
Justin’s Almond Butter Packet + Unsweeted Rice Cakes + Banana+pistachios
Spread the almond butter on top of a rice cake and add your favorite combo of peanuts and top with bananas. A delicious and energy promoting food guaranteed to curb your sweet tooth and prevent that midday crash. To increase the protein add a Fage Greek Yogurt for a balanced meal.
Avocado Turkey Rollups
Avocado + hummus+ nitrate free turkey
Lay the turkey out flat. If using 2 slices then lay slices onto one another.Spread hummus on top of the turkey. Add the avocado and roll up.
For brownie points add a serving of baby carrots or snow peas on the side for a well balanced meal.
Avocado Tuna Bowls
Low Sodium Tuna Packet + Whole Avocado + Mayo or Mustard Packets from deli
This is a real winner for me. I love to make these when I’m feeling fancy during my break. I just take those free mayo packets from the deli section, pour it into the tuna pouch and mix it really well. Then I slice the avocado in half, take out the seed, and fill it up with tuna. It’s a delicacy . Loaded with healthy fats
Greek Yogurt + Granola+ Fruit Salad
Fage Greek Yogurt +Fruit Salad+ NATURE’S PATH QI’A CHIA, BUCKWHEAT & HEMP CEREAL, CRANBERRY VANILLA
You can mix & match the choices above to make your own mini meals however you like! Take some suggestions from the carbs, protein , fruit and vegetable sections to create a balanced meal on the go. I know it’s not always easy making the best choices, but I hope this can provide as a guide to help you filter out the bad from the good. I didn’t want to include the standard super-high protein bars and drinks —like those that have 30 grams— because a lot of them are really processed with unnecessary ingredients and are also usually high in calories (up to 400!). But the more you practice at reading labels and choose wholesome real foods, you’ll find the process to be really easy and a lot quicker than waiting on a line get your order.
If you have any suggestions on other foods I should add to my list, leave a comment below!