Tips for Packing a Healthy Lunch

Breakfast is arguably the most important meal of the day. However, many continue to skip it as they “are not hungry”, “do not like breakfast food”, or “don’t have time”. Then lunchtime rolls around, they are ravenous and are then forced to make a quick decision of what to grab from the cafeteria or local restaurant.

Skipping breakfast or consuming one loaded with processed ingredients and sugar leaves your body functioning well below optimal functionality. If you continue this pattern at lunch, by mid afternoon, you will come crashing down and want to crawl into bed, or under your desk, for a nap.

Employing some or all of these tips will help you establish a smooth routine for packing nutritious lunches that will keep you fueled throughout the day.

To avoid this daily downward spiral and feel your best, use the following tips to simplify the process of packing a healthy lunch.

Pack the night before

Work and school day mornings are hectic.  Pack lunch boxes the night before so you have one less to-do amongst all of the chaos.

Focus on variety

Some thought needs to be put into what you throw into that lunch box to ensure that it is a balanced meal with an array of nutrients. Be sure to include sources of protein, fiber, healthy fats, fruits, and vegetables.

Quality is key

Skip the processed, pre-packaged convenience items like cookies, cracker, and chips. Focus on fresh ingredients that will keep you fueled properly through the afternoon.

Don’t forget the H2O

Dehydration delivers some really nasty symptoms, some of which are headache, dizziness, fatigue and lack of focus and concentration. Packing a frozen water bottle in your lunch works double duty, keeping your foods cool and providing the hydration you need when it is time to dine.

Plan for leftovers

When preparing dinner, plan to have some leftovers that you can pack for lunch the next day. This can be one of the simplest ways to ensure that you have a well-balanced lunch and saves time too.

Food Prep

Sundays are a great day to plan ahead for the week by preparing some food items that you can include in your weekday lunches. Spending a little time cooking extra protein and cleaning and cutting fruits and vegetables prior to lunch box assembly can make that process a little quicker and less stressful.

Employing some or all of these tips will help you establish a smooth routine for packing nutritious lunches that will keep you fueled throughout the day. Here’s to planning ahead, enjoying your lunch from home and feeling your best!

Do you have any tips that help you stay on track with healthy lunches during the week? Please share!

3 Simple Ways to Add More Vegetables to Your Diet

3 Simple Ways to Add More Vegetables to Your Diet

Some people love vegetables, while others despise them. Is your favorite vegetable French Fries?!? I actually heard that once upon a time.

It can be an uphill battle to get children to consume enough vegetables, even if you make a work of art out of a plate of vegetables (think animal faces, smiley faces, etc.) or douse them in cheese sauce or ranch dip.

The challenge can be a difficult one, so I wanted to offer up 3 simple ways you can incorporate more vegetables into your day.

1.    Incorporate veggies into your breakfast

You can do this is a couple different ways. First, smoothies can be a quick option and a great place to add in green vegetables like spinach and kale. Of course you can add some fruit as well, but let the vegetables be the star. Lower sugar fruit choices such as berries are an excellent choice. A second option for slipping some veggies into your breakfast is to throw them into an omelet or egg scramble. Choose whatever you like: spinach, peppers, onion, tomato, mushrooms, and avocado work well.

2.    Add veggies where least expected

You shouldn’t have to hide all of the vegetables that you intend for your kids to eat, but putting some in foods where they will never be detected is by no means a bad thing. Boosting the nutritional value of muffins and other baked goods by having some vegetables in the ingredients list is fantastic! (sweet potato, zucchini, carrot, avocado)

3. Eat your veggies before the main course

Prepare a salad and have that prior to your meal or much on something like carrots or cucumber beforehand, or even while you are preparing the main dish. Make this a habit and you may even find that your kids start asking for the veggie appetizer!

You may not reach your vegetable intake goal everyday, but by keeping in mind how and where you can add more into your daily routine can get you closer. Try one or all of the above tips and let me know how it goes!

Kitchen Basics: Pantry, Freezer and Fridge Staples

Stock your kitchen with these refrigerator, freezer and pantry staples to reduce stress, trips to the grocery store and put a healthy meal or snack on the table in no time.


Coming home to realize that you don’t have enough to choose from in your pantry, refrigerator and freezer to throw together a meal can be very frustrating! Your cupboard is bear and you are already hungry, so the quickest solution is to get take-out or delivery.

By keeping your kitchen stocked with some of the following essentials, you can avoid the frustration and hunger pangs and put a healthy meal or snack on the table in no time.

This isn’t an all-inclusive, full inventory, but rather the things that I keep on hand and reach for almost daily, as they tend to show up in various things that I prepare. Also included are some ideas of what I like to do with each item.

There are of course some staple spices and seasonings that you will want to keep on hand as well to make putting a meal on the table less stressful and more tasty! I’ll have that list for you at a later date, so stay tuned.

Canned goods and shelf stable items:

1. Nut Butter (peanut, almond, etc.)

In my house we go through A LOT of nut butter. The best day ever was a recent find of buy one get one free 40 oz. all-natural peanut butter. We add it to shakes, along with berries, spinach and almond milk or to oatmeal along with fruit. Oftentimes, we have it with an apple for a snack, or smeared atop a rice cake. Finally, there are a few things that I whip up rather frequently which call for nut butter. For example:

2. Nuts (Almonds, walnuts, pecans)
3. Seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, chia, hemp, flax)
4. Dried fruit

I like to add any or all of the above to yogurt, trail mixes, or salads. Other times, I will eat them alone or again there are many recipes to which I add them; including various baked goods and homemade snack bars.

5. Oats

Oats are a must have in any kitchen. If all else fails, there’s always oatmeal for breakfast, lunch or dinner (I have been known to do this)! Load your oatmeal with some of the aforementioned pantry staples and you are in for a real treat that is totally satisfying. Oats are also a great base for lots of homemade baked goods.

6. Sweet potatoes

Bake them, boil them, roast them, mash them, puree them. Don't care for them solo? Sweet potatoes can also be well hidden in baked goods from scones, to muffins, to cookies!

7. Rice
8. Quinoa

Keeping these pantry staples on hand allows you to have at your disposal key ingredients to round out your meal and provide sustenance. Meat and vegetables are great for lunch or dinner, but if that is all that is prepared, you may feel hungry within an hour or two. Add one of these protein filled starches to keep you satisfied a little longer.

9. Canned Beans

If you find yourself in a pinch without any meat sources of protein, don’t regularly consume meat protein, or just want to have a meatless meal, beans are an excellent alternative. Rice, beans and veggies combine for a delicious, satisfying meal. Alternatively, throw them into a crock-pot or slow cooker alongside a combination of some other ingredients for a soup or stew.

10. Canned tomatoes

It can be difficult to keep fresh tomatoes on hand at just the desired ripeness. This is when canned tomatoes come in handy. They can be added to an array of one-pot dishes, soups and stews.

Freezer Staples:

11. Frozen berries

Another item that is hard to keep on hand fresh, due to a short shelf life or seasonality is berries. I keep these in bulk in the freezer to add to smoothies, yogurt, cereal, oatmeal, muffins, and more.

12. Frozen vegetables

Keeping a stash of vegetables in your freezer can pull you out of an emergency situation when you find you have nothing fresh on hand. I always keep chopped onions, green peppers and usually also a couple of other choices... an oriental blend (great for stir frys), cauliflower, broccoli, or Brussels sprouts.

13. Frozen poultry, beef and seafood

Fill your freezer with some of the meats that you prepare most often to eliminate unplanned extra trips to the store when you discover you have nothing in the refrigerator and a meatless meal just won't do. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are a freezer staple at my house. 

Refrigerator Staples:

14. Eggs
Of course they are great for breakfast, or breakfast for dinner! You’ll also want to keep them on hand for recipes.

15. Avocado

Avocado may not be a staple in every household, but it sure is in mine. However, it is something I find myself having to pick up a couple of times a week if I want to have them at the perfect ripeness. I generally add them to salads several times a week and believe it or not you can find some recipes to sneak mashed avocado in. Peanut Butter Avocado Cookies

And let’s not forget guacamole!

16. Apples

Apples have a longer shelf life than most fruits, so it is easier to keep them on hand. They are a great snack while at home or on the go. I tend to always have one in my purse when headed out of the house. While at home, as mentioned above, we like to have apples with nut butter.

17. Greek yogurt

Greek yogurt can be a great high protein snack, or a quick breakfast. I always add fruits, nuts, and sometimes chia seeds, flax, hemp or pumpkin seeds.

Let me know, what are some of your kitchen staples for healthy eating?



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