This post sharing quick lunch ideas has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #NourishWhatMatters #CollectiveBias
Phrases my husband has never in his life uttered: Ugh! I forgot to eat. Again!
Me? It happens all the time. I get busy, and I tend to be focused on everything that has to be done and not on myself. Then I’m starving, and I’m grabbing whatever is at hand. That used to be fine, as I could enjoy leftovers from the previous night’s dinner. With a 10 year old and a 12 year old in the house, leftovers happen less and less often, especially as they tend to “steal” any leftovers for their school lunches.
When I don’t eat, I tend to get cranky, and my productivity shoots way down. Forget caffeine, I need food to function. When I skip meals, that’s also when I tend to suffer migraines more often, and as I’ve been prone to a bad stretch of headaches in the last month or so, I’m doing everything I can to minimize their likelihood.
Ironically, all those solutions involve taking care of myself. I’ve discovered that when I’m drinking enough water, ensuring I have enough sleep, scheduling a massage before I get too tense, and eating regularly scheduled meals, I get fewer migraines. You wouldn’t think it’s as hard as it is, but welcome to my life. Fortunately, I’ve figured out some quick lunch ideas that have me eating quickly and enjoying what I’m eating, as well.
Since regular exercise is also part of what I’ve found helps keep my headaches at bay, I can accomplish everything at once. Lucky me, Target is just up the road from my gym, so I can stock up on lunches for the week after my favorite Zumba class Monday mornings. Knowing that I tend to be busy and not have time for fussy meals, I’ve gotten smart and started picking up some fresh veggies and LEAN CUISINE® MARKETPLACE meals for my go to lunches.
I love the variety because there are days I crave Mexican (ok, so that’s most days), days I crave Asian (hmm that might be most days, too), and days I crave comfort food (hello winter in Chicago). Any one of those pairs cuisines pairs perfectly with a quick side salad or some fresh veggies I can chop either ahead of time or while my meal is heating up in the microwave. And yes, sometimes I have to play eenie-meenie-minie-moe to decide what I’m having for lunch.
Fortunately, even with my inability to decide what to eat some days (decision-making appears to be another skill I lack when I’m hungry), it’s only a few minutes before my lunch is ready. One of my favorite quick lunch ideas is to use the LEAN CUISINE® MARKETPLACE Vermont White Cheddar Mac & Cheese as a dip for some fresh cut veggies.
Yes, really. The creamy mac and cheese makes a great dip, and instead of using chips or pretzels, I use cucumber and carrots as dippers. That is a fun way to “sneak” more veggies into my own lunch, and it tastes great.
I’ve found that the easiest way to use the carrots as dippers is to make them into planks. Because I’m the only one eating, I leave them fairly long and double dip, but if I were sharing this, I’d cut each plank into two inch or so sections. When I was explaining what I do to a friend, she just stared at me blankly because she’d never cut carrots like this, but it’s really easy. I even created a quick tutorial showing how in under a minute.
When I’m enjoying the Lean Cuisine Mexican dishes, I will often slice up half an avocado and some small Campari tomatoes to serve with them. The only embellishment I add to the avocado is a little drizzle of lime juice, which means my plate is ready to go as soon as the Lean Cuisine is piping hot. It’s so satisfying, and it’s easy to prep while my meal is cooking. The avocado and tomatoes are a great complement to the LEAN CUISINE® MARKETPLACE Spicy Mexican Black Beans & Rice and is really filling, as well.
The avocado and quartered Campari tomatoes can’t be prepped ahead of time, but that extra avocado half? I put a light coating of olive oil over the exposed part – leaving the pit in place and the avocado in its skin – and place it in the fridge for later. The cucumbers and carrots, however, I can make in advance when I have extra time. That makes my quick lunch ideas even faster!
You do have to be careful when prepping veggies ahead of time though. If you just cut them up and put them in the fridge, they’ll dry out quickly. Me? I don’t like dried up veggies, so it’s important to store them properly. Carrots can be submerged in water and then lightly covered, but you don’t want it to be airtight. Cucumbers, on the other hand, shouldn’t be placed in water. Wrap them tightly in plastic or place them in an airtight container as full as possible, and then place them in the fridge. Then you can pull them out and enjoy them when you’re ready.
There are all sorts of quick lunch ideas you can create with LEAN CUISINE® MARKETPLACE meals. The LEAN CUISINE® MARKETPLACE Orange Chicken is great with some sugar snap peas that require no prep other than washing. Enjoy LEAN CUISINE® MARKETPLACE Lemon Pepper Fish with a side salad topped with a dressing you have already in your fridge or a quick vinaigrette you can make in minutes. This is another place where veggies you’ve prepped in advance help create quick lunch ideas you can execute and enjoy in minutes. There are so many options to enjoy.
And if you’re like me and stocking your freezer with LEAN CUISINE® MARKETPLACE meals, they are only $2 each at Target and there is a $1.50 off the purchase of 5 coupon that runs until 1/30/16. Couple that with the Lean Cuisine WellBeing community where you can earn rewards for engaging on social media, entering product UPC codes, reviewing your favorite varieties, and more, and these quick lunch ideas become even more compelling.
Plus, you can check out the packaging for the LEAN CUISINE® MARKETPLACE meals to see which fit your personal tastes. So many of them are gluten-free options (like the LEAN CUISINE® MARKETPLACE Spicy Beef & Bean Enchiladas) or made with organic ingredient options (like the LEAN CUISINE® MARKETPLACE Spicy Mexican Black Beans & Rice and LEAN CUISINE® MARKETPLACE Vermont White Cheddar Mac & Cheese) or have other variations you may be looking for.