10 August 2011

What's in Your Lunch Box?

What do you eat for lunch? It's pretty safe to say that if you are an American, and you work the 8-5 you likely eat out most meals for convenience or pack up leftovers from last night's dinner. The leftover dinner I can certainly get behind, but the eating out I cannot. I can say that, because that used to be me. I used to eat out most lunch breaks because I thought planning ahead might take too much time. Turns out it doesn't...and I was burning a whole in my wallet and clogging my arteries for no good reason.

A big mac is not a meal. This, my friends, is a meal! Since I started making up my lunches ahead of time (I usually mix up a big batch of whatever I'll be having on Sundays and eat on it all week or do another lunch making day mid-week to get me to Friday) I have experienced zero to few afternoon headaches, completely done away with mid-afternoon drowsiness, and no longer have a need to snack since my lunch does such a good job of meeting my nutritional needs.

This recipe is one example of many that can be made in advance and shoveled into a to-go container for lunch time. (See below for other recommendations if you're looking to revamp your lunch life!) I got the recipe from Angela at Oh She Glows and altered it here and there to suit my tastes. Here's what tasted best for me...

Quinoa and Black Bean Veggie Salad (a.k.a. "OMG this tastes as good as Qdoba or Chipotle but with 1/3 the fat and calories")

Will feed one person 4-5 days and a couple for 1/2 the week.

1 cup uncooked quinoa (red or white, I used white)
14 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
1/2 of a large cucumber, diced
2 green onions,chopped
1 cup corn (fresh or frozen)
1 (2, or 3, yum!!) avocado, diced

Juice of 2 small limes
1/4 cup olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook 1 cup quinoa according to package directions.

2. While quinoa is cooking, prepare the chopped vegetables and whisk together the dressing.

3. Allow quinoa to cool after cooking for about 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Add the beans and vegetables and toss well.

4. Drizzle dressing over salad and toss well with salt and pepper to taste.Chill to serve. Keep in sealed container.

Question of the Day: 
What do you usually do for lunch?

Other lunch ideas: 
Chicken Salad (sandwich or wrap) 
Grilled Chicken TexMex wrap 
This or this soup and a 1/2 sandwich

*I usually bring along a piece of fruit and a little snack too (like a small baggie of chips and a square or two of dark chocolate to cure my sweet tooth.)


  1. Great post, Hannah! (And that salad looks delicious!) ...Lately my guilty pleasure has been sneaking home for lunch and heating up leftovers there!It provides me a nice change of scenery & it (kind of) saves money (and I get to pet Gracie, who is always excited to see me!). I would love to implement a plan like yours though ... it would save me lots of time!

  2. I sooooo agree! We almost never eat fast food! Looks yummy!

  3. Great post, That salad looks unbelievably tasty! I love quinao and black beans mixed together. I will have to give this salad a try. Since I am home right now I really don't plan my lunches. But typically I will do a salad, maybe a huge yogurt bowl with all the fixings, left overs from the night before are always a safe go to!

    Have a fabulous wednesday!

  4. This looks soooo Delicious!! I usually dont make lunch because I'm at work all day. But for dinner I make a salad and grilled chicken, or maybe rice and beans sometimes pasta whatever is easier! hehe

    Very cute blog <3
    New follower!

    Lots of love

  5. Well I can tell you what will be in my lunch box next week! Thanks for the recipe, can't wait to try it this weekend (I am thinking of adding some roast butternut squash to this?!) I usually spend about £5 a day on lunch and that really adds up so this will no doubt save me some £££s!

  6. Amy- Yeah, I used to be able to come home... it is sooo nice!

    Hilary- a yogurt bowl sounds yummy. What's your favorite brand of yogurt?

    Camylla- Great to meet you! Those dinners sound yummy...mail me some? ;)

    Meghan- Yes, that sounds like it could be good...maybe seasoned with some spices since the salad has a south of the border flair! YUM! Hope you like it!

  7. three. definitely three avocados. this is a brilliant idea. i never think to cook in bulk, but i bet it's more exciting than cooking for one all the time. i'll have to try this!

  8. yum this looks great! I have a box of quinoa in my pantry that I need to use. Confession - I actually hate lunch. I don't really like sandwiches so I'm always trying to find something more interesting to eat.

  9. ow, sounds delish! here's another similar yummy, cold salad— http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Chickpea-Salad-with-Lemon-Parmesan-and-Fresh-Herbs-364611
    i've altered it with feta, cilantro, tomatoes, or whatever is peaking fresh in the garden!

  10. Brissa- OH yes. I love them. I could eat an avocado morning, noon and night. And maybe even in my sleep.

    Sherri-I'm the same way...kind of a sandwich snob to be honest. That's why I like these salads, they keep things fun.

    bonbon- LOVE IT! Thank you for sharing with us. I'll be throwing that into rotation in the next few weeks for sure.

  11. ahhh, gimme some Quinoa + black beans + avocado EVERY SINGLE DAY! :D This looks delish....

  12. Love this! I need to seriously make this for lunch today - not kidding. I usually wait till I'm starving then have a PB&J. Which is fine, if you're 6! :)

  13. Yum, Hannah! Today, in my lunch box, is a quinoa with portabello mushroom chicken sausage. And I have some grated cheese to sprinkle on time.

  14. Thank you for this post, Hannah! I often have trouble figuring out what to have for lunch for the week. I usually go with leftovers, but since my dinners are on the heavier side, I end up feeling sleepy and full after lunch. I often joke to my coworkers to ask me for help before 1pm because after lunch, I'll be too tired to do any work! Thanks for the suggestions...I will be looking back at this post when I am deciding what to prepare!

  15. I live off of quinoa salad during the summer, and I love eating every day for lunch. :)

  16. I usually pack a lunch too. :) this looks so delicious! And u agree fast food is not food.

  17. yummm making me hungry! I'm definitely guilty of eating out more than I should, but thankfully when I get back to school I have a dining hall to provide all my meals for me :) just need to find something healthy...

    <3 Alison

    giveaway going on now, check it out!

  18. I agree! I hate fast food!
    Luckily my mum cooks for me!^^

  19. i hate lunch. i ususally eat breakfast twice a day, haha, but im really loving quoina, so that wrap sounds good!

  20. I LOVE quinoa. Yummy yummy.

    Have you tried farro? (I think it is called spelt!)... with feta and grapes (yes grapes!)

    It is my new obsession hehe



  21. Great post! That's a good idea!

  22. Yum- my lunchbox never looks this good!

  23. I used to faithfully make a lunch every day, but I've been overcome with laziness the past few months. Need to get back on this horse!

  24. I work is a restaurant so I basically get whatever sounds good that day. Today it was steak with soup and salad. VERY filling and not a typical lunch choice but it was DELISH.

  25. Mmmmm looks SO good! I admit, packing my lunches always leaves me more satisfied but I find sometimes I end up wasting the food b/c the bosses take me out or something else comes up! What about the avocados in this recipe - do they get brown or do you not put those in until you're ready to eat?

  26. I need that in my lunch box!! I'm actually a terrible lunch eater, I'll skip or just have snacks or eat entirely too late and have no schedule at all. This is a meal that I can definitely improve with a healthier and consistent lifestyle.

  27. I cook a lot as well. Our lunches are usually a little heavier so that we can have a lighter dinner, which is supposed to be healthier as well. I've learnt the hard way that eating is so very important!

  28. Yum!! I agree.. THIS is a meal, indeed! And I'd love to be eating it right now, ha! So healthy & filling. I need to make this!

  29. I am also in the same boat. I eat out because I think I don't have time in the morning to make something before I leave for work. NOT because I enjoy it that much.

    I am going to try out your recipes. Sounds fun. Thank you.