Hey there readers! Today I am excited to share with you one of my dearest friends and college roommate – Jenna Braddock, from Fresh Food Perspectives. This girl is AMAZING. I loved getting to live with her during our FSU days and see what God was doing in her heart as she pursued a calling in nutrition. She taught me so much about living for Jesus, eating healthy and caring for my body. I asked if she would write a post for Happy Home Fairy featuring ideas about what busy moms can eat for lunch because, I don’t know about you, but this is the meal that I tend to have NO CLUE what to do with and usually end up eating yogurt and chocolate chips – which isn’t exactly fuel for finishing the laundry and having tickle fights with my boys. I know you will love her wisdom and fresh ideas about food. :-)
In my house it usually happens like this:
We’ve been out all morning (at the gym, playground, grocery store, Costco, etc.) and because we don’t live near ANYTHING – except a Starbucks – we are literally out for the entire morning.
When we walk in the door, hopefully a little before noon, my baby is cranky, I’m starving, and my toddler is saying he is hungry– every. ten. seconds. I’m trying to put away bags or food, entertain baby until I can feed him, figure out what we are going to eat, and pray for patience to answer my toddler’s non-stop food requests.
It’s not always pretty.
For a while, I just focused on feeding my boys and getting them down for their nap. I figured that I’d feed myself after all that chaos was over. But by the time I did end up eating (around 1:30pm), I was either too tired to care (and then just picked at something dumb) or I’d be ravenous and attack chips or chocolate before a thought of a vegetable even crossed my mind. Neither of these paths left me feeling good in any way. And it certainly didn’t set me up to have a productive nap time – which is crucial for my work life. Most of the time, I’d end up needing a nap myself (which I 100% support, but don’t always want to feel like I need one).
After one too many afternoons of this, I realized that in order to be the mom I need to be for my family, my lunch needed to be just as important as my boys’ lunch.
Since then, things have changed a little around here at lunch time.
One, I try to plan ahead.
In fact, I do this for my sitter when she is here during lunch time so that it will be smooth and easy for her. So why don’t I do that for myself? Hmm.
Two, I now take a few extra minutes to prepare my lunch as well and then we all sit down together.
Usually I will serve my toddler and I the same thing. I don’t necessarily eat his lunch, he eats my lunch (it’s semantics but I think it’s an important point). Sometimes they come in slightly different versions – his is a “deconstructed” version of mine – but this makes it easier and enforces the idea that we all just eat food (as opposed to kids eat ‘kid food’ and adults eat ‘adult food’).
Here are a few ideas of the lunches I eat that make me feel energized and are fairly simple to prepare. Cooking quinoa or prepping veggies on the weekend makes these meals happen a lot more easily during the week.
Deli meat and cheese roll ups with a slice of avocado inside; broccoli and hummus.
1 cup Plain Greek yogurt with chopped cucumber, fresh dill, cumin, and raisins mixed in. Whole grain crackers on the side.
Peanut butter and jelly sandwich (natural PB and all-natural jelly) on whole wheat bread, carrot sticks and fresh berries on the side.
Quinoa and black bean bowl with salsa, cheese, avocado.
Salad with grilled chicken (leftover from dinner), fresh strawberries, chips and guacamole.
Frozen veggie burger (lately, it’s this brand) with slice of cheese or sliced avocado, carrots and hummus, and blueberries.
What I look for in a lunch is a source of protein, at least one fruit or veggie, and something “happy” (e.g. a favorite healthy food like avocado, hummus, PB, black beans, whole grain chips, or sparkling water like La Croix). Anything too high in carbs makes me feel sleepy and I need to have energy to get stuff done during nap time. Including a “happy” food helps me not go back to the pantry several times during the afternoon to find something for my hankering. It’s also a good idea to try to include many colors in your meal – especially something green.
So ladies, please take the time to care for yourself at lunch. You may need a few different strategies to help you pull off lunches, depending on the schedule for your day. Crazy days may need a short and sweet plan. Less involved days may allow you to put in a little more time.
Either way, a little planning goes a long way!
What are your favorite go-to lunches?
Jenna Braddock, MSH, RD, CSSD, LD/N is a registered dietitian and a mom to two boys. When not chasing down her sons or watching her husband coach football, she enjoys helping people have a positive relationship with food and reach their goals. As a nutrition expert she works as a healthy living speaker, nutrition counselor, blogger, recipe developer and media spokesperson. You can follow her fresh perspective and healthy recipes on her blog at www.FreshFoodPerspectives.com or on Twitter and Instagram as @JBraddockRD.