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How To Eat Vegetables For Lunch

June 30, 2020
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If you’ve ever tried to “eat a little healthier” or “eat less processed foods” or straight up been on a diet, you’ve encountered advice to get more servings of fruit and vegetables on your plate.

You’ve surely also seen this if you’re following any “Meatless Mondays” or “Environmental diets” or have just been trying to eat less meat.

The challenge with eating more plants at home is that they usually need to be cooked to be filling and delicious. The cooking process of vegetables can take longer, involve more prep, and is more complex than, say, grilling a chicken breast sprinkled with salt.

A question I often get is: How can I get more vegetables in my diet without a ton of work? 

Learn Which Leftovers You Can Love – Whatever you’re cooking for dinner the night before, add a portion or two so you have finished food in the fridge. Figure out what is it about leftovers that will help you follow through eating them. For me personally, there are certainly things I love leftover – soup, any sort of taco or enchilada, any curries, grains or stir fries, lasagna; and others that I’ll never go for – steak, most chicken dishes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, fish. I factor this in and will cook double the asparagus and quinoa so I can eat those things for lunch. I always double soups because I’ll microwave them happily all week. 

Reinvent – building on the above, as you’re cooking for dinner keep some components plain and separate for maximum reinvention capabilities. Scoop out some rice or quinoa for a fried rice style dish, save some vinaigrette in a jar, keep some grilled eggplant separate for a salad. If you have cooked vegetable components rather than finished dishes they’ll be easier to turn into something else. A go to for me is anything saute with rice, a egg, and soy sauce dressing for a stir fry. Or wrap it in a tortilla for a veggie taco.

Antipasti Lunch – Another easy and delicious lunch is to make an antipasti platter for one. It’s basically Lunchables for grownups. Pile on cooked cauliflower, kale salad, roasted asparagus, sautéed mushrooms – these things can all be swapped out for what you have leftover from dinner and what you’ll enjoy. Add a few dips, cheese, olives, nuts, crackers and finish up with raw veggies. If you like salami or sliced ham, this is a good way to eat meat but more veggies than you might ordinarily.

Meal Prep Lunch – taking the prep a step further, once or twice a week, just plan out your lunches. People sometimes push back on eating the same thing a few times in a row, but hear me out. If you cook 2 different lunches per week and alternate them you’ll eat them each 2 or 3 times. Then, don’t repeat that meal prep again for weeks or months if you prefer not to. You can handle that right? If you plan ahead and cook these 2 dishes, then portion them into meal prep containers, it will be easy to grab your lunch with no work involved. 

Prep Raw Snacks – Get two nice tupperware containers and once or twice per week, fill one with prepped, chopped raw veggies and the other with fruit. I like to do carrots, jicama, peppers, and cucumbers – will snack on this all week dipped in hummus. And in summer, I love cubed watermelon, pineapples, sliced peaches, and grapes that are washed with the stems removed. Sometimes I just slice up 2 mangos and keep them ready to eat.

Alison
Alison Mountford is the Founder and CEO of Ends+Stems, a meal planning service designed to reduce household food waste and stop the effects of climate change. Alison has been named a Rubicon Waste Fit Champion, was a finalist for the Spoon Tech Startup Showcase, and has appeared on many podcasts and radio shows, and works as a food waste consultant.

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