“I need some fresh lunch ideas—for me!”
This was the request I received from a reader a few weeks back. Nadia is a mom of 2 who works full-time from home. She’s very fit and aims to eat healthy, but time constraints have led her to reach for the same easy foods (like cheese and crackers) for lunch. She tends to “snack” rather than “lunch”. Nadia wants suggestions on fast healthy foods that will satisfy her hunger.
Healthy Lunch Ideas from Real Moms and Dads
I’ll post some of my own tips and lunch recipes soon. However, I thought I’d first address Nadia’s question a little differently. I reached out to parents from different aspects of my life and asked them a simple question: what did you eat for lunch today? There’s a lot of media emphasis on our kids’ school lunches, so, for a change I’m turning the lens around to focus on us caregivers.
The response to my request was fantastic. Many parents kindly sent photos with a brief description of how they each approach the midday meal. I thank all who took part in the project and sent their pictures. Your efforts allow me to share a wide range of lunch options.
For added interest, the first handful of lunches come from moms serving in different health fields. These women spend many hours teaching others about healthy living, and I wanted to capture their seasoned perspectives.
I applaud everyone’s efforts to eat healthy, given packed schedules and desire to put our kids health first. It’s hard to slow down enough to create and consume food that’s nutritious. You deserve top quality fuel!
Hope you enjoy seeing what other Moms and Dads are eating for lunch today.
Margaret, of Healthy Living Step By Step, is a health educator who teaches nutrition classes and camps for kids. Her salad, pictured above, has avocado, walnuts, tomatoes, and feta, and is an example of the light lunch she craves.
My approach to eating is based on what helps me stay energized throughout the day. I need protein in the morning in order to stay productive and focused, a light lunch with beans/tuna/chicken on a salad, and a heavier dinner including carbs at night. The common thread in everything I eat is that it be as close to ‘whole foods’ as possible.
Becky is a full time health blogger on her site, The Art of Healthy Living, and is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post.
My typical mom’s lunch when the kids are on school holidays is tomato soup, boiled eggs with soldiers or wraps with lots of salad and chicken. However, when it’s back to school, that’s when I can start eating what I want to again – my absolute fave (pictured above) being scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, avocado and spiralized zucchini. And yes, I have tried it on the kids…eggs yes, all the rest ‘eurgh, no way mum!’ Oh well, back to the drawing board!
Claire is currently finishing her training to become a General Practice physician. She writes the health blog Medic Mummy and has 2 young children. She shares 2 lunches with us.
Lunch 1 is typical of what I eat at home. Eggs are a favorite and here I had poached eggs on seeded rye bread with a spinach and tomato salad. This meal has protein from the eggs and balanced carbs from the bread. The salad helps me keep my veg intake up (aiming for 5-10 portions a day). Lunch number 2 was a quick lunch on the go at work. Here I made a chicken salad with a prepackaged bag of salad leaves, chicken breast, croutons, a small amount of parmesan and some dressing.
Maria is a certified health coach and the founder of Cooking with Fun. She developed Cooking with Fun to teach kids where food comes from, how to plant and harvest garden produce, and how to prepare it in healthful meals. She teaches cooking classes and camps to kids, using fresh foods from her garden.
My lunches mostly consist of leftovers from dinner and a fermented food. When I make dinner, I make a large batch so I have ready-made lunches during the week. Today’s lunch includes leftover chicken wings, guacamole with organic tortilla chips, and fermented sauerkraut.
I like to focus on fiber for my lunch. If I expect to feel satisfied afterwards, I need to chew some roughage. Here’s a favorite—a BIG green salad with cabbage, cucumbers, and eggs, topped with some kind of seeds and beans and a zippy vinaigrette. There’s something irresistible about eggs blended into a well seasoned salad. If I were aiming for perfection I’d add some kind of whole grain to the salad, like quinoa or barley. It’s quick to prepare, especially if I hard-boil a batch of eggs at the beginning of the week. This is food that fills me up without weighing me down.
Michelle works full-time and is a mom to 2 young children. Her life is filled to the brim, and having this same lunch every day means one less decision to pester her brain.
Bridgette works full-time and has 2 grade school kids. She finds it easiest to grab a salad at Panera. This is the Goddess Cobb Salad with Chicken which she finds very satisfying.
Denise works part-time and has 2 grade school kids. She often snacks and grazes versus sitting down for a substantive lunch. This picture of Seafood Stew shows an exception when she has leftovers from dinner the night before.
Suzanne works from home quite a bit, and has a high schooler. She almost always has this combo for lunch: vegetarian ‘chicken’ nuggets, arugula, dried apricots and bananas, and balsamic vinegar in a gluten-free wrap. She says it’s so satisfying she wants to eat it every day!
Missy works full-time with 2 kids. She likes to make leftovers for her lunch like this pita stuffed with leftover roasted peppers and asparagus with homemade hummus. She rounds it out with yogurt and fruit. Always leftovers for lunch!
Meena works full time from home and has 3 school age kids. She also usually rounds up leftovers to reheat. Here she has an Afghan dish made of rice, spinach, cilantro, and yogurt, topped with jalepeños. She finished off her meal with a clementine.
Keeping it real here, folks. Kendra, mom of 2, works part-time and is busy job hunting, so she sometimes grabs fast-food to keep things moving. This chicken taco is from Taco Bell.
Here’s one of my husband’s lunches. He brings lunch to work every day, but it’s not leftovers. Jake and I both cook meals on Sunday afternoons and make a specific dish for Jake and June to bring for their lunches all week. This is a simple brown rice and chicken pilaf with mushrooms and carrots.
KJ & Monica
KJ and Monica are both teachers and are the parents of 2 young children. KJ’s lunch is a turkey sandwich with pickles and spinach, homemade chickpea salad, sugar-free yogurt, and a banana. Monica has a chorizo sandwich with olives and pickles, a strawberry yogurt drink, and a banana. They pack their lunch every day.
Tina is a stay-at-home mom with 2 little ones. Here’s she’s enjoying leftover pancakes from Ihop.
Kelly is working part-time and raising 2 kids. She discovered these great packaged salads from Walmart. There are a variety of salads to choose from, but here she’s enjoying the Spinach Dijon. She finds them very satisfying and economical (only $3-4 each).
Carrie works part-time, is raising 2 kids, and is always on the run. Lunch is typically something she can grab and go. Leftovers are a welcome option, and here she enjoyed leftovers from last night’s vegetable enchiladas.
Nadia works full-time from home and is more of a lunch snacker. She doesn’t want to stop to prepare anything, so putting something together quickly is a must. Here is a common “lunch-snack”: egg salad with Triscuits.