“A Cheap and Healthy Lunch in a Pinch”


Hey gang,

 Today’s topic: What to do when you forget to pack your lunch…


Personally, I tend to pack or make my lunch daily to keep me on track for my health and wellness goals.  However, sometimes I forget my lunch, or I just feel too lazy to pack it the night before… or by week’s end I don’t have enough food in the house to pack lunch.

With that said, in New York City, there is no shortage of fast food places to go for lunch.  There is always a deli, or diner, or Starbucks you can go to for food.  And then there are the usual chain options like Chipotle, Panera, McDonalds (shudder), etc.   These are not the best options for lunch so I try to avoid them.

However, on the occasion I don’t have my lunch with me, I might have to find myself in a deli annoyingly modifying the crap out of some sandwich or salad to make it possible for me to eat it and probably still not being satisfied…


And I much prefer the or…

If there’s a grocery store in the “hood” (and there usually is)…I’m there.  I know I can get simple, unprocessed ingredients to make myself a healthy lunch in a pinch for little money, calm stomach, and peace of mind.

I don’t know about you, but this was a major shift in thinking for me.  I used to think of the grocer as the place to get the food I’m going to cook in my home all week, rather than a place I can run into for a quick fix.  It only makes sense that you can use it for both, but the thought had not occurred to me until I was looking for healthy alternatives to my usual take-out fare.  The more whole the food the better!

Here’s how that might break down:

My go to fix is:

  1. A can of Wild Planet Tuna Fish; and
  2. A bag of pre-washed string beans, usually found in a microwaveable bag (thanks for this tip, Andrew Stewart Jones ;))

The great thing about this lunch is that it’s easily portable and it’s filling with plenty of protein.  And I go crazy when I can’t eat something green, so the string beans satisfy this need.   You get your vegetable and your protein. Check and Check.  All you need is a fork and you can get that at check out.  This tuna is delicious and doesn’t need to addition of mayonnaise.  You can eat it right from the can and with the string beans your mouth won’t dry out.  A great solution to eating out when you forget or don’t have time to pack a lunch.

 Other choices you could make:

Raw Goat Cheese and Endive leaves, just make an endive “lettuce wrap” for the cheese (another go-to snack for me)

A premade salad and a lemon to dress it.

A “bag of salad” or lettuce, lemon dress,  and some nuts (nuts are most easily digested when soaked or sprouted).

A bag of carrots and hummus (if you can eat it)

In a pinch, you could buy an apple and a jar of nut butter (but remember nut butter is hard to digest unless it’s sprouted, and fruit should really be eaten alone for ease of digestion)

*Try to stay in the produce section so you are not tempted to buy something for dessert, like a box of chocolate chip granola bars, for example.

Just a note:

A lot of take-out places are getting on the band wagon and offering healthy snack cup choices like boiled eggs and spinach or tortilla chips and guacamole.  And this is GREAT!  I’m glad to see it.   And sometimes I even buy them.  I’m just saying, if there is the choice of this premade version (which has a higher price point) or the good old grocery store for less money and the exact pairing and portion you want… why not go to the grocery store instead?  Isn’t that why it’s there?

Happy snack hunting! I hope you found this tip helpful.  Let me know how it goes.  What are your favorite grocery store finds for lunch in a pinch?