Why is it that lunches are so tricky?
Lunch is an important part of our day. It keeps us energised, helps our concentration and importantly keeps our moods stable. We pack for the kids, make sure there’s enough food for them, healthy snacks and 3 good meals a day. Yet us busy mum’s really struggle to prioritise our own lunch.
We tend to treat ourselves as second rate. It’s not a badge of honour that we don’t have time for ourselves but it seems like so often there is so little time left for us. Kids first, work first, chores first, lists first…our meals…last.
We are the ones doing a lot of the steering of the ship – we should be able to give ourselves the time to be nourished.
Does this sound familiar?
You’ve let yourself get too hungry, don’t know what you want to eat, you don’t feel like making anything, you open the fridge, ugh…nothing instant… close the fridge, grab a cup of coffee (because you know it will fill you up), then another cup.
You can feel your energy dipping (want to just rest your head on your desk for a few minutes?), your mood dipping and you’re getting a bit cranky. But there’s just no time to eat. AND then, you’re so hungry you just eat the closest thing you can find (not normally full of nourishment) and you can’t stop. (ever caught yourself with the teaspoon in the peanut butter jar?)
It happens to the best of us. The problem isn’t when this happens every now and then, it’s when it’s a regular occurrence. Your blood sugar is all over the place, you don’t have good concentration and possibly even a bit irritable.
Is everything else that important that you can’t stop for 10mins to make yourself a quick lunch and sit down and eat it calmly ? Like you deserve.
You deserve to be able to enjoy your food and not just make food for everyone else.
I find the biggest challenge with lunches to be inspiration of what to eat and that it needs to be fast.
Here are my work arounds
- I always make sure there are at least some left overs. If I feel snacky, there’s roasted veg to grab or there’s a backup meal in the freezer.
- I batch cook. Every weekend or every other weekend I choose a couple of meals and make enough for a couple of frozen portions. This means that when I’m rushing or feeling uninspired I don’t have to think, I just grab a meal out of the freezer and I know I will enjoy it.
- I meal plan (mostly) so I don’t have to think about what I’m eating.
- I have my go-to’s. It can get a bit boring but I try and make sure that I’ve always got my easy go to essentials
AND, in a hope to inspire you I’m sharing with you 6 of my go-to lunches! These are fast, wholesome, full of good ingredients and easy to make.
6 Simple lunch ideas
- Tuna, avocado, lettuce and jacket potato. Use a sweet potato to make it extra filling and keep you fuller for longer. You could also swap out the tuna for mackerel or salmon.
2. Spicy tomato & lentil soup with some whole grain pittas. I batch cook and freeze soups, see my example meal planner below. I’m mad about soups in winter and salads in summer!
3. Chicken, rocket, spring onion & hummus in sweet potato wraps (you can use wholegrain too). To cook up some strips or cubes of chicken with a bit of garlic and spice takes only 10-15 mins. It’s fast and doable if you let give yourself that small window of time. (Alternatively you can just buy cooked chicken, just watch for quality and added stuff, so I prefer to roast my own.)
4. Cottage Pie with sweet potato mash on top
This one is a firm favourite in our house. I make the cottage pie for dinner making sure to cook a double portion. I keep left-overs for lunch the next day and portion out the rest and freeze. Have it with a little salad on the side – 10minutes (prep the salad while you reheat in the microwave or oven).
5. Quick tofu or prawn stirfry. Of course you can swap out for any meat option you prefer.
Now that a lot of us are at home during the day, you can very easily do a quick stir fry – you don’t even need to add anything to it, but you could add prawns or tofu. Serve with brown rice. I keep rice precooked in the freezer in portions and then pour some boiling water over and fluff it up when I want to eat it. An alternative to rice is brown rice noodles or buckwheat.
6. Butternut& chickpea curry
I looove me a good curry and this is a great one for batch cooking. I normally add some fresh coriander on top as well as some fresh cut tomato and onion.
So that’s 6 easy lunches.
How I Meal Plan my lunches for the week
The pic below is of my actual meal plan for a week. Scribbled down quickly on a Saturday so I can order groceries or go to the shops on Sunday or Monday.
- Sunday Lunch: Cook spicy tomato & lentil Soup (to freeze) while cooking Butternut & Chickpea curry double portion. Eat the curry for lunch, portion and freeze the remainder. While I’m cooking those two soups, I make fresh hummus with chickpeas (just order soups and hummus from the shops if you don’t like cooking).
- Monday Lunch: Tuna salad (if I’ve made my Salmon Pesto the night before I might sear off 2 portions one for Barry and one for me and have salmon salad.)
- Tuesday lunch: Chicken rocket spring onion & hummus in sweet potato wraps
- Wednesday lunch: Left over cottage pie and salad (I would probably roast off whole extra sweet potato when making the cottage pie to snack on.)
- Thursday lunch: Tofu stirfry
- Friday lunch: Warm spicy tomato & lentil soup with bread.
- Saturday lunch: What’s left in the fridge 😊
You see the below meal planner is not some fancy work of art for ‘organised’ people, it’s ideal for everyone.
Download your FREE Meal Planner & Healthy Hacks to help you get on your way to saving time and mental load on what to cook and what to eat.
If you want more advice or assistance on how to manage your nutrition or to have better lifestyle habits as a busy mum
- What kind of busy mum are you? Take my quiz and find out, then get access to tips, tools and techniques to guide you.
- I created a Healthy Hacks Digital Guide for Busy Career Mums who want to build healthier & sustainable habits so you can thrive. Find out more and buy here.
- Join my free community Healthy Thriving Career Mums, all dealing with their stressors (you are not alone!). It is full of resources and 8 free masterclasses.