You’ve got to get the kids ready for school, pack their tiffins, walk the dog, hit the shower and eat your breakfast before heading to work at 9am. Mornings are always maddening and your office lunchbox is usually the one chore that gets neglected in the bargain.
But remember: a good lunch is essential as it carries you through the day.
Studies have found that eating a nutritious meal in the afternoon helps beat lethargy, improves attention span, increases productivity and keep your mood bright.
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Contrary to what you may think, that “healthy” lunchbox does not require hours of toiling. A few minutes and a little planning is all you need.
Plan two meals ahead
When you have toiled in the kitchen to prepare a scrumptious Sunday brunch for your family, it’s a shame to not reap its benefits the next day. If you made idli sambhar, set aside a few idlis so you can chop them into pieces and stir-fry with onions, tomatoes and mustard seeds for finger-licking masala idli. If you prepared rajma chawal, save some boiled rajma to ready a filling and tasty rajma salad the next morning.
Count those carbs
Nutritionists say that at every meal we should aim to “make a fist” wherein the thumb symbolises carbohydrates, the index finger represents proteins, the middle finger fats, and the ring plus pinky finger refer to vitamins and minerals. Carbs account for the biggest chunk of your meal as they provide fuel for the body to function optimally, boost energy, speed, stamina, and concentration. But that does not mean to you have to eat rotis or rice day after day. You can add macaroni to your salad, enjoy multi-grain toast with soup or simply relish whole-wheat pasta.
Pack in proteins
A healthy lunch must include some lean or low-fat protein to give you a sustained energy high. Ensure that the egg tray in your refrigerator is never empty. Just set two or three eggs to boil while you sip your morning cuppa. You can add the whites to your salad, sandwich or even pulao while leaving. If you are in a rush, just carry them in a packet and peel at work. Vegetarians can make a chaat with sprouts or boiled chickpeas.
Fruits contain essential vitamins and minerals as well as natural sugars which satisfy sweet cravings. But if eating an apple seems to boring, try making a fruit chaat or raita. You can make a tasty salad by combining cabbage and cucumber chunks with diced apple and shelled pomegranate. Stir in some hung curd and add walnuts or almonds to make it more crunchy and healthy. On a busy day, simply carry a banana or bunch of grapes. You can always wash the latter at work.
Bring leftovers to your rescue when you are short of time. Make a delicious wrap with the previous night’s rotis and sabzis by adding some chopped onions, tomatoes, and chutney. Give a makeover to refrigerated rice by stir frying it with a little olive oil, crushed garlic and salt.
Pick a side
Roast makhana in olive oil and salt over the weekend and store in a jar. Keep crackers and khakra handy too. You can quickly pop a handful of these munchies in your tiffin to ensure you have a healthy side with your sandwich or roll instead of the typical chips and biscuits.
Steel the show
A healthy lunch is not complete till you pack it in a healthy container. Numerous studies have found that plastic contains harmful chemicals that can leach into food putting us at risk for various diseases, including cancer. Moreover, foods tend to lose their aroma and flavour when stored in poor quality plastic boxes. Invest in a stainless steel tiffin, casserole or trustworthy, BPA-free container.
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