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Quick grabs for lunchtime satisfaction


Whether you’re headed off to class or work, mornings can be tight. Your alarm goes off way too early, so naturally you have to keep punching snooze until you only have just enough time to shower, grab something small to munch on, and sprint out the door.

As you didn’t grab anything more than a granola bar for breakfast on your way out, when lunchtime does roll around, you’re left with a growling stomach. Trying to ignore it as much as you can, you finally give in to your noisy belly, digging out your wallet, and hitting up the closest vending machine or fast food restaurant.

You didn’t plan on going out to eat twice a week or more, of course not. But this week is busy, you were up late doing homework (pay to do homework to save time), you had to get through the third season of Grey’s Anatomy-–I know. But going out can get really expensive, really fast and for some reason, your pants are starting to get a little tighter as well.

Well, I have your solution. These quick and easy lunches will keep your stomach and wallet happy and provide a well-balanced,  nutritious diet to keep you full the rest of the day.

There are a lot of sandwiches that are easy to put together and won’t slow you down. First, there’s good ol’ peanut butter and jelly. Just slap some peanut butter and your jelly of choice on to a couple pieces of bread, bag that sucker and you’re ready to go. To mix it up, pick up a few different flavors of jelly or jams. Try blackberry, peach or cherry for a fresh taste. If you have a bit more time, consider replacing your jelly with slices of fresh fruit. Think peanut butter and apple or peanut butter and banana. It’s a great way to mix up your textures and keep your from falling into a sandwich lull.

Other easy sandwiches include ham and cheddar, turkey and pepper jack or straight-up tuna (although tuna takes a little longer to make because you have to mix it up with mayo first). Mix and match and see what you can come up with. You’ll be a sandwich-making master soon enough.

Also consider different kinds of wraps: hummus and turkey, cream cheese and ham, peanut butter and banana–the possibilities are endless, all you have to do is experiment a little to figure out what you like.

In my experience, mixing different combinations of dairy, grains and fruits make great lunches, too. Stock your fridge with yogurt, apples, bananas and string cheese (yes, even as a twenty-something, you can enjoy string cheese-–people may seem like they’re judging you, but they’re just jealous) and pack your pantry with various crackers (such as everyone’s favorite snack that smiles back–goldfish or pita chips), granola bars and cereal. There’s no shame in having a lunch of an apple, a granola bar and string cheese, or yogurt, a banana and a handful of cereal. Even a combination of pita chips, hummus, and carrots is a full and complete meal. You’ll get a good balance of everything you need to get you through the rest of the day.

If nothing else, stash a bag of trail mix and a small jar of peanut butter in your desk at work. There’s nothing quite like a spoonful of peanut butter to help push through the afternoon lulls and the last few hours of the day. Peanut butter will also give you a hearty punch of protein to keep you full and energized.

Trust me, anything other than a burger and fries from down the street will be a lot more filling and satisfying. Packing your own lunch will leave you feeling less bloated, more awake and less guilty about having to whip out your credit card for deep-fried junk everyday.

And, if you can’t stand to spare a couple minutes every morning (although, really, those ten extra minutes of “sleep” aren’t going to make much difference), make a point of preparing your lunch the night before. I promise you can even keep Grey’s Anatomy on while you’re making your healthy, easy lunch.

Don’t leave your stomach to suffer through another lunchtime being empty and whining. Keep your belly (and wallet)  happy with a homemade lunch.

Photo Credit: Katherine Lee

About the Author

Julie Winsel

With a background in magazine and newspaper publishing with a splash of business-sense, Julie (Eckardt) Winsel is re-pursuing her passion for writing. Now living in Eugene, Oregon, with her husband and cat, she likes vodka-crans and getting caught in the rain.