No more running on empty
Let’s face it, we’re all much busier than we’d like to be. Long working hours, active weekends, and taking care of all our responsibilities doesn’t leave much time to think about our own health and wellness. When the day is flying by, we tend to eat junk food and takeout, which usually leads to feeling sluggish and depleted. Then crossing everything off our to-do list starts to feel like an uphill battle. The solution is to fill up on nutritious foods to get the boost we need to power through a challenging day.
Unfortunately, it isn’t always feasible to prepare and sit down for three healthy, complete meals a day. Taking a few minutes to meal prep for the week with healthy lunches is a quick, simple way to make sure you’re powering your body with important vitamins and minerals.
A simple, satisfying solution
Meal prepping your lunch is a fantastic way to build a wellness lifestyle while saving time and money. But it can be a bit confusing when deciding what exactly constitutes a healthy lunch.
Introducing the powerful protein bowl! A protein bowl, when prepared correctly, is an excellent, easy option for a satisfying lunch with a variety of key nutrients.
Most commonly, protein bowls consist of a healthy grain, like whole-grain pasta or wild rice, topped with your favorite veggies and proteins. There are a ton of creative ways to design a protein bowl. All you need is 30 minutes to an hour on the weekend to prep your bowls using six simple steps. Plus, you can try tons of different combinations, options, and variations to make your lunch the highlight of a hectic day.
1. Do a little preparation
Before you start making your bowls for the week, make sure you have the right ingredients on hand. Cook up proteins (chicken, salmon, and steak — or tofu, beans, lentils, and chickpeas for vegetarian or plant-based diets). Check that you have rice or whole–grain pasta (more great options are listed below). Make use of any leftovers you may have from dinner. Also, ensure you’re well-equipped with airtight food storage containers.
2. Lay down a whole-grain base
A perfect protein bowl starts with a good base. Rice is the traditional base — preferably wild or brown rice — but healthy pasta, quinoa, and barley are all good options as well.
A salad base is another awesome option. Greens like romaine lettuce, spinach, kale, and Swiss chard work well and can really boost the total nutrients of your protein bowl.
3. Add in your favorite veggies
Once you’ve laid down the base, it’s time to add in fresh veggies. Shoot for a full cup of raw, steamed, grilled, or roasted veggies.
Veggies to add include:
- Leafy greens.
The type you choose may depend on what else you’re planning on adding in when it comes time for proteins and other mix-ins.
4. Power it up with protein
Protein is the star of the show — these are protein bowls after all! Including 3 to 4 ounces of cooked, lean protein should be perfect. Go-to meats are:
- Lean beef.
A boiled egg works well in some bowl combos and can quickly add another protein boost.
For vegetarians or plant-based dieters, these well-known proteins pack a powerful punch:
These other lesser–known vegetarian protein sources are also sufficient choices:
- Sea vegetables.
- Cottage cheese.
5. Get a little saucy
Adding a sauce truly sets the stage for a flavorful lunch bowl! Add 2 to 4 tablespoons of sauce to your bowl. To keep your bowl fresh, keep your sauce or dressing in a separate container. Right before eating, drizzle and enjoy!
Pick a sauce that accents the protein in your bowl. Delicious sauces to try are:
- A light vinaigrette.
6. Dress it up with a bit of garnish
Toppings provide extra flavor and texture, so don’t be shy! These tasty toppings can make your protein bowl extra special:
- Shredded or crumbled cheese.
- Chopped fresh herbs.
- Sesame seeds.
- Fruit wedges.