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Healthy Eating 101: Avoid Getting Stuck with a Crappy Lunch









Now that you have a better idea of how to start your day with a breakfast that will boost your metabolism and your energy-it’s time to talk about lunch.

Lunch can be a challenge, especially if you work in an office environment where any of the following apply:

a) people go out everyday (or order in), and your co-workers might not be the best influences when it comes to food choices

b) you’re too busy* for an actual lunch break

c) you don’t have time* to pack a healthy lunch

*make the time.  I’m serious-this is an excuse, it’s not a condition-I’ll address this more in the video.

In today’s video, I’m giving you time saving planning/preparation tips so you CAN  pack a lunch or make a healthy one at home depending on your lifestyle AND I’ll dive into how to “eat out” without throwing your good intentions away (or sabotaging your energy for the afternoon).  I’ll also explain what’s up with the pic of veggies in ziplocs above…

Just like with the breakfast video, let’s get the chatter going in the comments-A TON of people gave their feedback and appreciation for all the learning, not just from my responses, but from your input too.  So let me know what you usually do for lunch, and I’ll let you know how to improve it.  If you pack your lunch-or usually have a pretty healthy one-share your tips and ideas too!

And because I love you mucho-there’s two of my favorite go-to recipes below the video…enjoy and feel free to share any of your favs in the comments too.


Healthy Eating 101: One Concept, Lots of Benefits

Arugula Salad with Quinoa & Chick Peas

You’ll need:


1/2 cup cooked quinoa

1/4 cup cooked chick peas

handful of cherry or grape tomatoes halved

*artichokes optional

1/2-1tbsp basil pesto

What to do:

Toss it all together in a bowl/tupperware and enjoy!

*This is my favorite salad at Le Pan Quotidien…much cheaper to make at home 🙂

Turkey Chili

You’ll need:

Lean ground turkey (I prefer to choose the one that’s raised without hormones or antibiotics)

1 chopped red onion

1 can black beans*

1 can kidney beans*

1 can chickpeas*

1 can diced tomatoes *

1 can chicken broth (low sodium)

1/2 tsp cumin

1/4-1/2 tsp cinnamon (depending on your desired flavor)

pinch of salt and pepper

chili powder optional if you like a kick.

*on all canned items it’s obviously better to cook your own, but for time purposes I buy canned-no salt added, and if I feel like splurging too, organic. Always rinse the beans before adding to pot.

What to do:

Brown the meat in the bottom of a 3 qt sauce pan.  Once it’s cooked, add all the other ingredients, bring to a boil, then turn heat to low and cover for 25 minutes.

Healthy Eating 101: Avoid Getting Stuck with a Crappy Lunch
  • Giulietta Nardone

    Hi Liz,

    The recipe for Turkey Chili sounds fab.

    When I was imprisoned in a cubicle, I found it hard to eat right. Cafeteria food can be gruesome.

    Now that I work/play at home, I actually make meals for lunch. Salads with all sorts of veggies in them. Fruits. Cheese. Belong to a CSA farm so I’ve got lots of pesticide-free veggies picked ripe rather than unripe.

    It’s interesting that we’ll claim to be too busy to put good food in our bodies, yet making time for healthy eating ought to take priority.

    Thx, G.

    • Liz DiAlto

      G-love your last thought-we claim to be too busy, but making the time ought to be a priority. A lot of people don’t realize that the extra time put into our well being will be returned exponentially in energy, productivity and feeling freaking awesome…and this is why I have a job 🙂

  • Rachael

    Hey Liz!
    Great post! I actually do the same with fruit salads for the week – got my bf hooked, too. I pack my lunch every day so I don’t tempt myself with crappy cafeteria food or Philly cheesesteaks. Plus I go to the gym/run over my lunch so I’m confined to my desk to eat anyhow. Typically I eat a yogurt and a sandwich. What are your thoughts on the 45 calorie breads? I eat that with a couple slices of turkey/ham and 2 slices of provolone. I usually incorporate some form of a bagged veggie [celery/tomatoes/carrots, etc] or a piece of fruit [sometimes both]. When I want to switch it up I make a chef salad and sub that for my usual sandwich. Sometimes I’ll reach for smartfood popcorn or a nutrigrain bar with my mid afternoon fruit salad. I feel like I have a tape worm, I’m ALWAYS hungry! I literally just started today to drink those light muscle milk drinks after my workouts hoping to keep me from overeating. Do you have any thoughts on those? Sorry for the BAGILLION questions!

    • Liz DiAlto

      Strap yourself in Rach-we have some major adjustments to make. I HATE 45 calorie breads because they make people think it’s better b/c it’s only 45 calories, but it’s still freaking bread. Keep all the veggies, if you can do a real piece of protein like a chicken breast or real turkey or a turkey burger b/c deli meat is super processed and full of sodium (and not as satisfying as the real deal, prob why you’re hungry again in a few hours but more on that in a sec) ditch the bread and keep either the yogurt or the cheese but not both. Here’s the deal with hunger, if you finish a meal and are still hungry-add some more carbs, if you are full at the end of the meal but hungry again in a few hours-that means you’re not getting enough fiber or protein so more veggies or fruit at the meal is a good choice. Try drinking the light muscle milk halfway through your workout so your body can absorb the carbs while your insulin levels are spiked rather than after–just start sipping in 1/2 way through with an aim to finish it by the time you’re done or shortly after. Also-drink a full glass of water before every meal-hunger and thirst are sometimes confusing. Try this out this week-and report back in to let me know how it goes, thanks for the questions! x

      • Rachael

        Thanks for the tips Liz! I will definitely go back to finding the time to cook up some chicken or turkey for salads instead of finding the easy way out and reaching for lunch meat! I used to do this all the time but fell off the wagon a bit. I generally only drink water so I slowly started incorporating that water tip and it has helped a bit…I just have to remember to do it! Thanks again!!

  • Simona

    MMmm…lunch. My favorite time of the day. I always have a lean protein, usually turkey or fish. Along with a cruciferous veggie – a must for shifting your metabolism into high gear. My favorite this salad: shredded cabbage or cauliflower, with half of avocado, onions, tomatoes, hemp seed (for digestion), parsley, organic e.v.o.o., a tiny dash of Himalayan salt and cayenne pepper (digestion). Gluten free, dairy free and awesome.

    • Liz DiAlto

      I have to pick up hemp seeds next time I’m at the store-keep hearing about them. Thanks for this S, love the salad idea!

  • Andie

    Today I brought a Trader Joe’s salad to work for the first time in months so great timing – I traded the cheese for grilled chicken (also TJ’s prepared) and added diced apple. Because the package is so big, I divided it into three baggies so that I could have 3-quick on the go salads.

    As for buying lunch, which I do often… I like to get the create-a-salad because not only can you choose your veggies, but I find these 2 things useful… 1) add fruits to the mix like an apple which substitutes the crunch of croutons AND also adds a lot of flavor to the salad so you don’t have to rely on a dressing and 2) get dressing on the side. The second is helpful obviously for portion control, but more importantly because those salads are mega-huge. They cram a lot into those bowls and half way through I find myself stuffed, but who wants to finish soggy salad two hours later?? So I keep a tupperware bowl at work where I divide half my salad and have it later in the day when I start to feel a bit hungry again 🙂

    • Liz DiAlto

      Hi yo! Lunch time genius alert…Andie, this is like a little blog post of it’s own…love, love, love all of this. Thank you for sharing 🙂

  • Sarah J

    Love this post! Thanks Liz!

    I cannot eat the same thing everyday for lunch, so I first check out all my options in the cafeteria whether its from the Grill or Entree section. If there isn’t a healthy option for me (that I want to eat), I head over to the good old reliable salad bar. That way I don’t get sick of eating salad every day, but at least I know there is always an option for me.

    My other favorite has become the pasta bar without the pasta (every Wednesday!). I have the chef warm up all the veggies and put a tiny bit of tomato sauce, without the pasta and without the cheese. Its so good and worth all the crazy looks I get from people when I ask for Pasta without the Pasta.

    I think I am getting better with lunch in the work environment, but I still struggle with when I am out or away for the weekend. So my new goal is to make sure I bring snacks with me when I travel or go out on the weekends.

    • Liz DiAlto

      that’s the sign of a healthy eater on a mission…not being afraid to ask for something a little bizarre AND loving how amazing it is. Applauding you from my couch, Sarah!

  • Leah

    These are great ideas! My favorite time saving tip is the crockpot. It’s amazing and can be used for so much. I used to make turkey chili once a week, then I’d eat it for days. I check this website for ideas because this lady is super creative and knows a thing or two about food allergies.

    I used to bake casseroles or cupcakes (not that kind…) which are super easy to cut up and store. I use a cupcake pan and fill it up with eggs, veggies, meat, whatever, bake and store. Super easy and delicious. You can get creative and add different ingredients each week so you don’t get bored.

    Thanks for the awesome videos Liz, keep em coming!

    • Liz DiAlto

      seriously-this might be it’s own blog post coming soon. I will shout you out and let me know if you have any fav recipes for these “cupcakes”

  • Leah

    ps, The crockpot lady has great ideas but I modify them to be healthier…I just love her ideas and her pictures!

    • Liz DiAlto

      This is another really excellent suggestion-I’m going to take some time to check this out over the weekend…and the freaking “cupcake” idea?! GENIUS!! Thanks Leah 🙂

  • nmaha

    Hahaha…third comment today. Well better late than never.

    I usually have a greek salad salad (with balsamic dressing), a boiled egg, grilled vegetables and an iced coffee for lunch (coffee, milk and a dash of chocolate syrup with crushed ice).

    Note: The heat here is killing so I need something cool to drink. I have multiple herbal teas throughout the day.

    • Liz DiAlto

      This sounds like a great lunch to me. Maybe skip the chocolate syrup and grab a square of raw dark chocolate instead?