Let’s Lunch! Smart Meal Prep Tips & Recipes #ReynoldsHeatandEat

Lunch, you gotta eat it no matter where you are – home, work, school, errands, gym, airplane. The issues getting in the way of my healthy lunch life are meeting up with friends who don’t have the same concerns about eating “food for function” as I do, finishing a workout that went well past noon and being so hangry that I could eat the entire Shake Shack on my way home, or being stuck on travel and having the only option be airport food. Note – I have a $25 Gift Card Giveaway at bottom of post. 

Lunch Meal Prep

However, I’ve found that with a little bit of front in effort I can prep my lunches in nice little containers for the week on Sunday – the payoff is obviously a healthier meal with ingredients approved by me, less crazy mornings gathering my grub up, and saving money – yes, saving money is good! It means I can pay all the high dollar fees for getting to and entering the races I love doing.

Meal Prepping Tips & Recipes for Lunch!

These are some basic tips that I use every week when putting together my meals and packing them up in to-go containers . If you’re a pro meal prepper, these tips may sound simple. But, if you’re new to the game of big batch cooking and assembly line prep, these useful ideas will help you get started!

Prep your protein.  The slow cooker and grill are my two go-to ways to prepare large batches of beef, chicken and pork for lunches (and dinners) through the week.   On Sunday morning, it’s so easy to stick huge roast or brisket in the Crock Pot and then walk away to enjoy the day. I use darn-big slow cooker (8-qt) so that I can make the most meat possible and have even been known to have two going at the same time! For the grill, Costco-sized trays of chicken or steaks not only are more economical to buy, but will hook you up for the entire week or month – depending on your family size. For fish, fill a rimmed, oiled baking sheet with your favorite filets or one huge piece of salmon and bake in the oven ‘til done!

Get your whole grains, beans & legumes going.  Brown rice, quinoa, and ancient grains hold up really well to making ahead of time and reheating later. Often, I find that pasta gets mushy during its second showing- not always though, whole wheat pasta holds up pretty well.  Use a large stock pot or rice cooker to get the job done efficiently – mine has a 20 quart capacity!   Another benefit of cooking a week’s worth of grains at once, less mess to clean up.

Switch up the sauces & mix-ins.  Often eating meal-prepped lunches can seem monotonous, choking down the same bland thing day after day. However, adding a small serving of sauce or handful of mix-ins is an easy way to transform the same old lunchbox staples into a wider range of flavorful meals – try pestos, Asian-inspired sauces, marinaras, salsas and so on! Even some fresh, no preservative salad dressings make a good option on hot and cold dishes. As for mix-ins, the little “extras” I rotate through include nuts, seeds, cheeses and dried fruits.

Use the right container.  If taking a salad for work, a large mason jar can be layered with ingredients. Keep the dressing on the bottom and delicate ingredients up higher, leaving a little headroom at the top so that you can shake it up right before eating.  I also like to take my soup in a mason jar, placing a layer of plastic wrap over the opening and under the lid to both help prevent leaking during transport and to serve as a splatter guard when reheating in the microwave – you don’t want to put that metal lid in there!  Hot meals can be reheated in a variety of containers, but I am partial to the Reynolds™ Disposable Heat & Eat containers  (more deets below)– they hold a generous portion, are a great alternative to plastic and can be tossed in the trash so no messy containers to take home.  Store small portions of dressings, nuts, and cheese in baby mason jars, cleaned baby food jars, small plastic containers or snack-sized zip-bags.

Know your food safety rules.  When meal prepping for a week of lunches, remember most pre-cooked proteins and grains will only stay fresh for about 3 to 4 days in the fridge—I prep for Monday through Thursday and then do actually treat myself to lunch out on Friday! You can also prep your “plated” meal, or bigger bags of “ingredients” for assembly later, cool and place into appropriate freezer-storage containers – in the freezer, you can keep the quality for about 6 months.   I refer to this handbook of food storage safety tips from Real Simple magazine often.  If you can’t keep your lunch in the fridge at work, make sure you’re using icepacks than keep your food chilled until chow time.

Reynolds Heat and EAt disposable containers

As I mentioned, I am digging these Reynolds™ Disposable Heat & Eat containers (I purchased mine at Walmart on the food storage aisle where you find foil, plastic bag, wax paper, etc.).  Available in two sizes, these toss-away lunch tubs are a great alternative to plastic and are made with plant fibers.  The clear lids allow you to see what you’re grabbing from the fridge, but need to be set aside during the reheating process. Reynolds Heat & Eat disposable container at Walmart

Reynolds Heat & Eat disposable ContainersCheck these out for yourself by picking up a pack of new Reynolds™ Disposable Heat & Eat Containers at your local Walmart – found on the food storage aisle. They are very reasonably priced and you can even save an additional $1.00 on one pack of Reynolds™ Disposable Heat & Eat containers with this coupon.

Here are some recipes to get you going:

roasted-tomatoes-in-turmeric-sauce“Go for the Gold” Turmeric Hummus  can be tossed with pasta or zucchini noodles for a healthy option to a creamy sauce – another perk is that there is also added protein.

 

 

Beef Blue Cheese Date Jar Salad is full of protein and Iron Super Iron Boosting Beef, Blue Cheese and Date Salad relies on pre-prepped sliced steak from the freezer (or freshly cooked) and layers up nicely in a jar for on-the-go lunching. I’ve even eaten this one in the car!

 

Maple Pecan Raisin Butternut Squash Quinoa - thefitfork.comMaple Pecan Butternut Quinoa is a delicious fall-inspired salad that can be taken to work or school and eaten warm or cold.  Here’s a little tip, double up when cooking the quinoa for this recipe and bag the rest in the freezer for easy dinners later.

 

Shrimp & Sugar Snap Pea SAlad with Lemon Gremolata easily packs into a lunchbox served cold.Shrimp & Snap Pea Pasta with Lemon Gremolata – This is another dish that is just as good cold as hot. If meal prepping for lunch, I always leave the delicate veggies raw so that when I reheat, they don’t become mushy!

 

 

 

 

15 minute Beef & Veggie Fried RiceBeef & Veggie Fried Rice: I typically use sirloin or flat iron steads for this one, but prepping to eat several days in a row, I will swap up the meats with chicken, shrimp or just simply extra scrambled eggs for protein variety.

 

Don’t forget to GET YOUR $1 OFF COUPON for Reynolds™ Disposable Heat & Eat containers!

walmart-25-giveawayEnter giveaway for a change to win a $25 Walmart Gift Card so you can try Reynolds™ Disposable Heat & Eat containers yourself! Ends 10/20/2016 at Midnight CT.

Enter via Rafflecopter app below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Southwestern Avocado Tuna Salad & Sandwich #TunaStrong

Southwestern Avocado Tuna Salad Sandwich kicks up lunch with flavor, protein and heart healthy fats. Here I am talking about protein again, but eating enough quality protein is serious business if you want to optimize your body for performance. As competitive runner, CrossFit enthusiast and yoga dabbler myself, I’m always looking for ways to make my motor run and recover more efficiently – and eating enough quality protein spread evenly throughout the day helps sustain my energy so that I can perform to meet (and sometimes exceed) my expectations. And, a protein-rich snack consumed within 30 minutes of an intense workout or run helps my muscles repair so that I’ll be raring to go for my next effort. Check out my recent post that talks about how much protein to eat and when.

jen jump kids tuna

Whoohoo — Avocado Tuna Sammies for lunch, and only 5 minutes to make!

Adding canned tuna to any meal is an easy (and inexpensive) way to get that necessary serving of protein along with other essential nutrients you need for optimal health and wellness. Bumble Bee® Solid White Albacore Tuna in Water contains 13 grams of protein and 0 grams of fat per serving, along with essential Omega-3 fatty acids. Bumble Bee®  is a tried-and-true canned tuna product I also feed my always-hungry teenage boys, and I appreciate how the company is sharing the message that seafood, tuna  and other fish are family-friendly ingredients in a well-rounded, wholesome diet  –   Tuna Mind…Tuna Body…, Tuna Soul…Tuna Strong™.

On the go Bumble Bee Tuna snack pack for travel.If you’re really on the go (just heading to the gym or office or road-tripping across the country on vacation), Bumble Bee®   is perfect for travel. You can just pop open a can, pouch or snack pack, squeeze on some lemon and enjoy. Pair with some fruit that you’ve stashed in your briefcase, gym or carry-on bag and no longer will you worry about how to get a clean-eating meal from a vending machine, drive-thru or airport food court.

 

Add Bumble Bee Tuna and Avocado atop whole grain bread for a healthy, filling lunch.However, if you have just 5 minutes of prep time, you are going to go love my delicious recipe for Southwestern Avocado Tuna Salad.  It features flaky while albacore mixed with mashed avocado, a healthier swap for mayonnaise – this keeps the recipe rich and creamy but with mostly heart-healthier, good-for-you unsaturated fats. I serve on paleo or low-carb bread, or the way my mom used to do tuna salads – in a scooped out tomato bowl. The Southwestern Avocado Tuna Salad is also a winner wrapped up in lettuces leaves, a whole grain tortilla-style wrap or even popped atop a pile of scrambled eggs.

This Southwestern Avocado Tuna Salad in a tomato cup makes a protein-rich, yummy meal that works for low-carb and paleo diets.

Southwestern Avocado Tuna Salad Recipe

  • 1 large ripe avocado
  • 1 large lime, juiced 
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 cup thawed “southwest blend” frozen corn
  • 2 (2.5 ounce) pouches Bumble Bee Albacore Tuna  

In medium bowl, mash together peeled, seeded avocado with lime juice and garlic salt. Stir in thawed southwestern-style corn and tuna (that has been flaked with fork) until combined. Serve over salad, in tomatoes or on bread. Serves 2 -3.

So, what are you waiting for, get Tuna Strong! Follow Bumble Bee®   on Pinterest for a seemingly endless collection ways to use canned tuna in recipes and other helpful nutrition tips. Or, check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

What is your go-to way to eat canned tuna?

This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of Bumble Bee.

Eggs-celent! Cotija Corn and Avocado Egg Salad

Southwester flavors add tons of fiesta flavor to this untraditional egg salad from thefitfork.com.

Traditional egg salad can be a bit boring, but I’ve added a fiesta of flavor to one of my new recipes for the Lighthouse Foods blog. It’s Cotija, Corn and Avocado Egg Salad – and yes, it’s amazing as it sounds! Mexican crumbling cheese, corn, tomatoes, diced avocado and other fresh and healthy ingredients are added to coarsely chopped eggs. Instead of old-school mayo, the recipe is lightly dressed with Creamy Cotija Cilantro Dressing – it’s one of my favorites and also insanely good on fish tacos.

Fresh ingredients for Cojita, Corn and Avocado Egg Salad.

This nutritious egg recipe is perfect served solo, atop a salad or between a couple slices of your favorite bread.

A southwestern inspired egg salad recipe is perfect for you next picnic. - TheFitFork.com

Salad with Guacamole Stuffed TomatoesIt’s also so good in tomatoes, oh you know how I like to scoop out vine-ripe tomatoes and fill them with yummy things – Guacamole and Bacon Stuffed Campari Tomatoes are coming to mind!

 

 

protein challenge graphicQuick and easy egg recipe is one way I’ve been sticking the 30-day Protein Challenge at BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com  — the goal is to aim for 30 grams of protein optimally timed between three meals. You can look forward to less hunger and mindless snacking to help you get that leaner body!  It’s not too late to sign up for free and get all the tools you need to succeed, plus daily tips to keep you on track. Come back next week and I’ll share my upcoming beef kebob recipe with you!

 

Taking the shells off eggs can be a frustrating and tedious job. Here’s an egg-peeling tip you don’t want to miss:

 

TheFitFork.com refueling after the Capitol 10k race.

Refueling with beef and eggs after the Capitol 10k Race — I came in 1st Age Group and 3rd Masters.

How much protein are you eating per day? What are your favorite sources? Please share in the comments below:

 

 

Lunchspiration | Creative Lunch Ideas & #HarvestSnaps Giveaway

lunchspiration

It’s back-to-school time and my kids keep reminding me that brown-bagging can get a little boring! Turkey sandwiches, peanut butter sandwiches and hard-boiled eggs have been overdone at our house. OVER. DONE. Not only are my guys getting older and more adventurous in their tastes, I personally prefer my mid-day meal to be something anticipate with excitement rather than aversion

I have three quick and easy ways to give your lunch a lift plus a giveaway for a stash of a yummy and healthy snack food to take on the go – Harvest Snaps. Read on!

Lunchspiration - Leftovers

Leftover #Lunchspiration: While some detest a repeated, reheated performance of last night’s dinner, I live for leftovers – in fact, I often plan to make extra, just so I’ll have an encore!  Sometimes, I repurpose dinner leftovers into new creations such as transforming fajita beef strips into baked sweet potato toppings, putting pasta, rice or grain remnants into a soup or chopping up leftover veggies to eat cold in a salad. But, not trying to brag, some of my dinners are so yummy (like this broccolini and tenderloin) that the second showing is just as wonderful as the first!

salad lunchspiration

Salad #Lunchspiration:  I may single-handedly eat more salad than anyone on the planet. It’s not because I’m trying to diet — I’m just a lettuce lover!  The kids always want me to buy Iceberg or Romaine lettuce, but I’m a huge fan of the Baby Spring Mix which features an assortment of darker greens – those darker lettuces are much more nutrient rich. But, eating a pile of lettuce day-in and day-out can get dull as a doorknob so I mix it up with a variety of unexpected toppings including any type of fresh or dried fruit (apples, oranges, blueberries, strawberries peaches or bananas). I dare you to put a banana on your salad – do it! Other creative ideas are leftover proteins (even scrambled eggs!), crushed up chips or Harvest Snaps in lieu of croutons, pan grilled or crisped cheese, and out-of-the-box dressings such as Sriracha mixed in plain yogurt, peanut butter mixed in orange juice or even cold spaghetti sauce. Seriously.

healthy yogurt toppings

Yogurt #Lunchspiration:  Some might think that yogurt is only for breakfast or maybe a healthy dessert. But, I think it also makes a great start to any lunch – I use Greek yogurt because it’s packed with so much protein.  The richness and creaminess of Greek yogurt is something I don’t tire of quickly, especially when flavored with a few healthy toppings from a nearly endless array of options. Here are a few of my healthy yogurt toppings:

fruit and nut combo for yogurt

snap pea bento boSo, every lunch needs a little “crunch” for munching and Harvest Snaps is a favorite brand I like to feed my family. Harvest Snaps are gluten-free, baked (not fried), high in protein because they are made from lentils and peas, and have 40 percent less fat than a traditional potato chips. Oh, and did I mention that every one of the six flavors is delicious?! My current favorite flavor is a tie between the subtle Lightly Salted Snapea Crisps and bam-pow Wasabi Snapea Crisps. The other four and also yummy flavors are Black Pepper Snapeas,  Caesar Snapeas, Tomato Basil Lentil Crisps, and Onion Thyme Lentil Crisps.

bento box snapea

I have two ways for you to win – first you can win a BIG PRIZE directly from Harvest Snaps. How? Well, right now, head over to Harvest Snaps and play the really fun mix and match game where you “make” a bento box – then share your creation on Pinterest, Facebook or Twitter for a chance to win one of three prizes for school valued at up to $1,000!

 

 

harvest snaps border

Second, you can enter my giveaway below to win one of three 6-pack assortments of Harvest Snap snacks that will come in really handy for packing those back-to-school or work-day lunches. Enter my giveaway in the Rafflecopter app below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: This giveaway is sponsored by Calibee Harvest Snaps, however all opinions are my own.