How to Make Healthy Lunches in Under 60 Minutes

How to Make a Week's Worth of Healthy Lunches in Under 60 Minutes

I’m a busy person and even though I’m a food blogger, I completely understand the feeling of not wanting to spend your entire night in the kitchen preparing meals. However, I also believe that home-cooked and freshly prepared food is important enough for my health that I’m willing to dedicate some time and energy into preparing it.  That’s where this post comes in.

Monday through Friday I work in a typical office setting. This means on Sunday night I can be found preparing my meals for the week. As my schedule, career, and life has gotten busier and busier, I’ve looked for ways to spend less time in the kitchen, but still get the same results of delicious and healthy food.

I’ve been packing my own lunches for over six years now and I’ve found that it’s far healthier than eating out, saves a ton of money, AND it’s honestly not as hard as you think. Today my goal is to show you how quick and easy it can be to make healthy lunches for the entire week — all in under 60 minutes!

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Easy Broiled Curry Salmon

Easy Broiled Curry Salmon

There are a few things you should definitely do during the course of a 3-day weekend.

Yoga? Check.

Sleeping in? Check.

Drinking green smoothies? Check.

Sitting on your couch for a five-hour Law and Order SVU marathon? Check.

Alright, I’m not necessarily proud of that last one, but sometimes we all need a little break. And for me this past weekend that meant cuddling a cat and cheering on Olivia Benson. You go girl.

How was your long weekend? And, more importantly, what did you eat?

In addition to lots of fresh salads lately, I’ve been on a salmon kick. This is rather strange coming from someone who spent the first 27 years of her life avoiding seafood altogether. (Seriously, you can ask my mom.) 

In my salmon pursuits, I’ve discovered that my favorite way to prepare salmon is by broiling it. This method is quick, easy, and doesn’t require a lot of clean-up.  And, if you’re preparing food for just yourself (which is usually the case for me), it’s easy enough to broil a single filet and treat yourself to a fabulous and delicious dinner that looks like it took more work than it actually did. (This is always a bonus for nights when you have dinner guests!)

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How To Make Zucchini Pasta With a Mandoline Slicer

How To Make Zucchini Pasta with a Mandoline Slicer

How To Make Zucchini Pasta with a Mandolin

Some of my favorite tutorials on my blog involve making (grain-free and gluten-free!) zucchini pasta. Last year I created two different tutorials to show how to make  spaghetti from zucchini and how make zucchini fettuccine.

There are a couple of different tools you can use to make zucchini pasta but I typically use my spiralizer (pictured above on the right). The one that I own is a plastic spiralizer by Paderno World Cuisine that I ordered from Amazon in 2009. I’ve found that it’s easy to use, easy to clean, and has lasted a really long time.

A lot of folks who stop by my website are excited about this and want to make zucchini pasta, however, they don’t want to have to buy a spiralizer. As a minimalist myself, I completely understand the hesitation you might have before buying another piece of kitchen equipment. And this is exactly why I created this tutorial.

If you want to make zucchini pasta, but just don’t think you’d have enough uses for a spiralizer, then a mandoline slicer is going to be your new best friend. I became acquainted with mandolin slicers many, many years ago when I worked in a raw foods kitchen. A mandoline (pictured above on the left) is used for slicing and cutting vegetables and fruits. You slide the vegetable or fruit along the surface blade and it allows you to slice the food quickly, uniformly, and much thinner than if you were using a knife.

I’ve had my mandoline for a couple of years now and when I’m doing large amounts of prep, it definitely saves me time in the kitchen. The mandoline I own is OXO Good Grips V-Blade slicer that I purchased off Amazon. I’ve used several different mandolines and this one is my favorite because it comes with a few different blades and it has a food holder with a handle that you can use to slice the fruits and veggies so you don’t have to worry about slicing your fingers on the blades (the old-school mandoline models don’t have this feature so beware).

Once you have a mandoline, making zucchini pasta couldn’t be easier! So let me show you how to make zucchini pasta with a mandoline slicer!

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Fruit.0 Giveaway + Mango Glazed Chicken Recipe

Mango Glazed Chicken Recipe

And here we are again at the start of another busy week! Today I’m really excited to share a few different things with you so this will be a jam-packed post!

1. I want to tell you about an awesome company called HelloFresh who delivers healthy meal options for quick and easy dinners (yes!)

2. You can enter to win a pack of Fruit.0 Organic Fruit Snacks (yum!)

3. And I’ll be sharing this recipe for mango glazed chicken (yum yum!)

Here we go!

A few weeks ago I was contacted by HelloFresh and Fruit.0 and asked if I would partner with them to do a review. After doing some research, I was really intrigued because with my recent schedule changes, I’ve been thinking about ways to cut down time in the kitchen while still being able to eat healthy. Being able to try out a home delivery service like HelloFresh for a week was a dream come true!

HelloFresh specializes in delivering fresh ingredients and great recipes to your home each week, which allows you to quickly cook and eat healthy meals created by nutritionists and chefs. You can read more about their philosophy here. (Note: I was fortunate to be able to try their service for a review, but they don’t currently deliver to the Seattle area. Check out their delivery area here.)

Each box comes with 3 recipes and all the ingredients necessary to put the meals together. They have two different options for boxes so you can pick the Omnivore Box or the Veggie Box depending on your preferences. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to quickly make and assemble these recipes and not having to do the grocery shopping, recipe planning, or worry about prep made it so easy to get a healthy meal on the table during a really stressful week.

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The Trader Joes Healthy Meal Plan

The Trader Joe's Healthy Meal Plan: Recipes for Paleo, Vegetarian, Vegan, & Gluten-Free Diets

Let me start by saying that this is NOT a sponsored post for Trader Joe’s. :)

If I had things my way, I’d probably only shop at the farmers market and my local co-op, but with some recent career changes, life feels busier than ever. And you know what this means? It means a lot of shopping at Trader Joe’s.

A couple of times a month I get emails from readers with questions about how to make healthier decisions at the grocery store. I also frequently get asked to create meal plans with servings. This isn’t something I normally do, but since I’ve been focusing on my own food budget lately and doing a lot of shopping at Trader Joe’s, I thought this would be the perfect chance to create a Trader Joe’s Healthy Meal Plan!

In this post I’ll show you what my typical shopping list for the week has been looking like and the recipes I make. These recipes are a mix of some basic prep and pretty simple cooking. Since I’ve been tight on time lately, my goal has been to keep meal prep and cooking time under 30 minutes per meal so these recipes are definitely great for busy folks! Each section shows you the amount of servings along with the total price and price per serving.

I typically only shop and cook for myself so I will do 1 – 2 shopping trips a week and do batch cooking usually twice a week to make sure I always have fresh food on hand. If you are cooking for 2 or a larger family, you can adjust the recipes and multiply the items by how many additional servings you need for the week. Make sense?

So let’s get to it!

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Sautéed Greens with Mushrooms

Greens3

When you start a new job, there are few thoughts that might go through your head…

  • Did I already meet this person? I think I did. No, wait, I totally didn’t. I’m still unsure. Should I just introduce myself anyway? Shoot, now they’re walking away…
  • How do you work a copier again?
  • Why. am. I. so. hungry. ?
  • (receive an email from John)… John? Wait, who’s John again?
  • Why isn’t it lunchtime already?
  • Seriously? No one uses a reusable mug? I wonder how many paper cups this office goes through daily… 
  • Would it be totally weird if I pulled out my green smoothie mason jar right now? Maybe I should just do it anyway?

Ah, the joys of starting a new job.

My favorite part of being in a new job is trying to figure out the office culture, especially when it comes to food. I’m not gonna lie here, I’ve always been the office weirdo when it comes to food. It usually doesn’t take long for me to bring a green smoothie to a meeting or pull out a giant container of zucchini spaghetti at lunch and forever be branded “the healthy one.” Sometimes this is a term of endearment. And sometimes it’s just plain not.

My strategy for surviving the week I started my new job included having lots of healthy foods prepped and ready for dinner so I wouldn’t be temped by any unhealthy (but probably way more convenient) options. My meal options for the week included Coconut Crusted Salmon alongside these amazing braised mushroom greens.

And for dessert? Why, this spring detox green smoothie of course. Just because I’m weird like that. :)

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Toasted Coconut and Goji Berry Trail Mix

Toasted Coconut and Goji Berry Trail Mix

There are a lot of reasons why people make trail mix. Most people I know make trail mix because they need quick energy on a hike. Or a bike ride. Or perhaps a good run.

But me? No. 

I make trail mix prior to a shopping trip at IKEA. I mean, can you think of a better time when you’ll be under stress, most likely hungry, and really needing some energy? I certainly can’t.

I made this batch of trail mix in preparation for an IKEA run a few weeks back. Even though my friend and I were estimating it would be a “quick trip,” I knew I had to be prepared and that definitely meant bringing food along.

Three hours, two lamps, a kitchen cart, and a giant shelf later I found myself stuffing this trail mix into my mouth by the handful and I couldn’t have been more grateful.  If you need a tasty and nutritious snack on hand to prevent low blood sugar, I think this toasted coconut and goji berry trail mix is the solution…

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Coconut Crusted Salmon

Coconut Crusted Salmon

Do you ever have those nights where you wake up at 3 am and just cannot get back to sleep? I had one of those nights recently and it was downright miserable. Although, I will say I got a lot of thinking done.

Thinking about really, really important thoughts like…

  • Should I go back to DSW and just buy that purse? I didn’t really like the color, but it was the perfect size… Ooh! Maybe I can find it in a different color online!
  • I think I should rearrange my kitchen. I hate the way it feels so cramped in there. Maybe if I move the fridge? Wait, is there an outlet on the other wall? Hmmm…
  • Go back to sleep. Go. Back. To. Sleep.
  • What is that noise? Which one of my cats is making it? What did he get into now?!
  • I really should make more salmon. It just feels right for spring. I wonder if there’s a way to combine it with coconut somehow. Maybe with shredded coconut flakes? Now we’re onto something… 

The only thing that came out of my miserable, sleep-deprived evening? This Coconut Crusted Salmon recipe. And to be totally honest, it was completely worth it. Who knew that a recipe created at 3 am could be so delicious?

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