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Nutrition

6 Simple Lunches for busy mums

Are you always pressed for time which then tends to result in sacrificing the quality of what you prepare or lunch?
My 6 simple lunch recipes really can make a difference, especially if combined with my meal planner.

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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 mums 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 you’re possibly even a bit irritable.

Is everything else so 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 for what to eat, and the fact that it needs to be fast.

Here are my work arounds

  • I always make sure there are at least some leftovers.  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. It’s as simple as just grabbing a meal out of the freezer knowing I will enjoy it.
  • I meal plan (mostly) so I don’t have to think about what I’m eating.
  • I have my go-tos.  It can get a bit boring but I try and make sure that I’ve always got my easy go to essentials.

AND, in the 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

  1. 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.
Tuna, avocado, lettuce and jacket potato

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!

Spicy tomato & lentil soup

3. Chicken, rocket, spring onion & hummus in sweet potato wraps (you can use whole grain, too). To cook up some strips or cubes of chicken with a bit of garlic and spice takes only 10-15 mins. Not only is it fast, but it’s also doable if you give yourself that small window of time. (Alternatively, you can just buy cooked chicken, just watch for quality and added stuff. That’s why I prefer to roast my own.)

Chicken, rocket, spring onion & hummus in sweet potato wraps

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 leftovers for lunch the next day and portion out the rest and freeze. Have it with a little salad on the side – 10 minutes (prep the salad while you reheat in the microwave or oven).

Cottage pie with sweet potato mash on top

5. Quick tofu or prawn stir-fry. 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.

Stir-fry: tofu and prawn

6. Butternut & chickpea curry

I looove me a good curry and this is a great one for batch cooking. Normally, I add some fresh coriander on top as well as some fresh-cut tomato and onion.

Butterut & chickpea curry

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 a whole extra sweet potato when making the cottage pie to snack on.)
  • Thursday lunch: Tofu stir-fry
  • 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.

Free meal planner

P.S. When you’re ready here are a few ways I can help…

  1. Download my free meal planner and save yourself hours and reduce your mental load.
  2. Subscribe and listen to my Healthy & Thriving Career Mums podcast all about health, habits and mindset for busy mums.
  3. Join our Healthy Thriving Career Mums community. The No.1 free group for career mums who want to build healthier habits and thrive.
  4. Get ‘The Busy Mums Guide To Healthy Habits’ – my e-book to help you build healthier & sustainable habits to thrive in 90 days.
  5. Do you need more support & accountability with your habits? I can help you with my 1-2-1 coaching.

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