Plan Your Lunch Ahead
By Pamm Clark

If you're like me, you stay so busy meeting the needs of everyone else, you forget to plan meals for yourself. By the time I get to lunchtime, I'm very hungry and if I don't have anything planned, I end up eating whatever I can grab.

I finally had enough and put myself back on the priority list. I now make sure I plan my lunch at breakfast time along with the toddler lunch. My rule is to have something heating up in my mini crock pot or have a solid plan for MY lunch between 8am and 9am. Along with that, I have a plan and/or dinner in the crock pot for ME by 2pm. That way I know when I hit that point of the day when I'm starving, I will have something healthy ready to go.

I've found pre-cooking for myself, just as I do for the toddlers, ensures I have something on-hand all the time. Also, if you're counting Weight Watcher's Points or calories, it will be easy to set up portions for yourself.

Even if you don't work at home, you can still use these methods. If I were to work outside my house, I would invest in at least one mini crock pot. I would leave the base at work and carry the insert to and from home and work. I would fill the insert with my lunch for the next day and put in my fridge. The next morning, I take the crock insert along with other lunch items to work. As soon as I got to work, I would put the insert into the crock pot base and turn it on. It would be all warmed up by lunch time! EASY!

Look for items that don't need to be prepared ahead of time. Of course, no-prep is fast and convenient. Buying items already in serving sizes takes the steps measuring out serving sizes. Here are some ideas:

        Low-fat or turkey hot dogs
        Low-fat luncheon meat
        Pre-washed, bagged salad
        Shredded low-fat cheese
        Unsweetened applesauce cups
        Non-fat yogurt cups
        Low-fat string cheese

      The George Foreman Grill gets it done! I fire-up my GF grill every-other weekend or so. I get everything browned and cooked through. I freeze in meal-sized portions. I can reheat in a crock pot or in the microwave on the day I want to eat it. I can even defrost in the fridge the night before and leave cold to add to a salad. If you don't have a GF or similar grill, you can fry on the stove or broil or bake in the oven.

            Boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
            Boneless pork chops
            Turkey burgers
            Lean hamburgers
            Turkey sausage

      Think of what you can pre-cook ahead of time. I am always looking for new ideas and recipes of items I can cook and freeze easily. With my busy schedule, I need food that's ready to go!

      Toss your salads and prep what you can. Chop, cut, dice, and toss all your salads for the week. Put in individual containers for "grab and go" convenience. Consider making "kits" by putting together sandwiches or ingredients of meals you quickly cook on meal day.

      Putting it all together. After you have your meals cooked and packaged and ready to go, the next step is to make a plan. You can make a written menu or decide on a daily basis what you will have for lunch each day. I usually decide the day before or at least by 9am the morning of the meal what I will have for lunch and how it will be heated or prepared.

      I almost always heat whatever I'm having in a mini-crock pot. The precooked hamburgers, meatballs, pork chops, fried rice, turkey hot dogs, sausages, soups, chicken nuggets, and even burritos can be heated in the crock pot and be defrosted and warmed by lunchtime (if you get it in the crock pot by 8 or 9am, it is warm and ready by 11am or noon). If I am having a hot dog, I put the hot dog bun in a baggie on or near the crock pot and it's warm by lunch, too.

      Does this seem like a lot at once? It might seem overwhelming to make everything on a weekend. I usually make one or two things per week, not everything every week. Another way to make sure you have something for lunch is to make extra for dinner: make a double batch of meatballs and freeze the extras in meal-sized portions. Do that with hamburgers, chicken, sausage, or whatever you make. Before you know it, you will have quite a few meals on-hand.

      For more ideas visit:
      Pamm's Food Finds and Healthy Recipes.

      Menu planning service with WW Points!


      All praise and glory go to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
      Apart from Him, I could do nothing. (John 15:5)