Taking Back Lunch: 4 Lunches for Moms

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As moms, we are busy. As moms, we are hungry. Ask any person who has to be in the vicinity of a busy, hungry mom, and she will tell you that busy, hungry moms are not to be trifled with, people. Lunch can be especially rough. We’ve, very likely, put in a full day’s work by noon. Instead of standing over the kitchen sink with our kids’ leftovers or bringing fast food to the office, let’s take lunch back! Here are four easy, nutritious, and filling lunches to power you through your day.

A woman portions broccoli into lunch boxes.

The Almighty Grain Bowl

Grain bowls have gained popularity in the last few years and for good reason! Grain bowls are packed with healthy ingredients. Using seasonal produce or bags from the frozen food section, these bowls are wonderfully versatile.

Start with a grain base. Boil dry quinoa or try popping a frozen bag in the microwave. My favorite brand to steam in the microwave is Path of Life Quinoa. Other grains to try are millet (high in calcium), amaranth (big protein), farro, and wild rice (not actually rice). Once you have your grain of choice, you can add veggies, meat, even fruit, and dressing. There’s no wrong way to make a grain bowl. You can pre-make one the night before or prep the ingredients to pack in the morning in less than five minutes. Fix your bowl to your taste and preferences or try my favorite autumn grain bowl. 

Autumn Grain Bowl

1 cup cooked quinoa 
1 handful kale or baby spinach, chopped
2 hard boiled eggs, sliced
1 cup cooked sweet potato
1 apple, chopped
1/2 cup blueberries
2 tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette
Optional toppings: cranberries, pepitas, crumbled feta, goat cheese

Mix the ingredients and your choice of optional toppings in a bowl. If you plan to make your grain bowl ahead of time, put your dressing in a separate container. 

>> RECOMMENDED RESOURCE :: Spill the Tea :: Guide to Tea Shops & Cafes in North Texas <<

Protein Boxes on the Cheap

I love protein boxes from Starbucks. They’re full of healthy options and a great choice when I’m on the move. The downside? They’re expensive! I bought these Bento boxes from Amazon as an alternative and have enjoyed creating my own “mommy snack plates.” The combinations of food keep things interesting!

Ideas for your protein box are:

  • Pack in your protein with hard boiled eggs, turkey cubes, chicken salad, or pepperoni slices. 
  • Veggies should be plentiful and colorful! Try sugar-snap peas, sliced bell peppers, mini cucumbers, baby carrots, or broccoli. 
  • Eat your fruit! Grapes, blueberries, strawberries, apple slices, melons, and orange slices keep your lunch refreshing. 
  • Mix it up! Try gourmet cheeses, different varieties of hummus (chocolate dessert hummus!), spreads, and nuts. Toss in artisan crackers or pita chips. 

I have taken my DIY protein boxes on trips to the park and for long days at the ball fields. Prepping a well-balanced and interesting meal, beforehand, keeps me from hitting a drive-through or concession stand. 

>> RELATED READ :: Make A Healthy Meal-Replacement Smoothie in Minutes <<

A Bagged Salad Glow-Up

I have chosen to give myself grace and take a major shortcut to enjoy a good salad — buying bagged greens. Try different types of bagged salad like chopped butter lettuce, micro greens, arugula, spring mix, and get creative! What do you already have handy in your fridge? Turn a boring bag into a big-bowl banger! (Always use a big bowl for a salad. It tastes better that way, trust me.) 

  • A bag of romaine lettuce, combined with kalamata olives, artichokes, chopped tomato and cucumbers, feta cheese, and some Greek seasoning make an easy Greek salad.
  • The Southwest Chopped Salad Kit from Target, with some black beans, corn, avocado, and even chicken or beef become a delicious taco salad. 
  • Grab fruit you’ve got on hand like blueberries, strawberries, apples, even mandarin oranges. Add a hearty helping of baby spinach, a sprinkle of walnuts, and goat cheese. For protein, add chicken breast or hard-boiled eggs. Toss everything together with your favorite poppyseed dressing, and you’ve got a light summer salad. 

Keep the grocery bill and your time spent in the kitchen low by utilizing what you already have! Just buy the greens!

A spinach salad with strawberries, avocado, pepitas, and red onion.

Shake It Up with a Protein Smoothie

Protein smoothies are a low-effort way to get a high-protein intake! Women don’t often get the recommended amount of daily protein, 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight. So for a woman weighing 150 pounds, her recommended daily intake of protein is 54 grams. To help you reach this goal, try my sister’s simple smoothie. I can vouch for its staying power. It keeps me full and satisfied!

Erin’s Protein Smoothie

3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 cup frozen fruit (I like the Cherry Berry Blend from Kroger.)
1 cup baby spinach (Buy a bag, divvy it up into individual portions, then freeze.)
1–2 scoops vanilla protein powder
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed 
1 tablespoon wheat germ (optional)

Add water and ice for your preferred consistency. Need to make your smoothie on the go? There’s a portable blender for that! 

You work hard, mom. Let your lunch work for you! Enjoy!

Ashley is from Hurst, and though she’s flown the nest a few times now, she always seems to boomerang right back to her hometown. Her latest stint took her family to Chicago for the last four years. While Ashley, her husband of almost 16 years, her son and daughter loved life as honorary Midwesterners, Texas called, and it was time to answer. Though her children are in upper elementary school, Ashley found her groove as a stay-at-home mom and is not eager to give up the title quite yet. You can find her putting in the miles all over town with her “doggy clients” as a Rover walker and caregiver. (Dogs talk back less than children.) Ashley is often the loudest mom at the ball fields but comes in peace with the best snacks. She recharges with a run around Hurst, a ride on that stationary bike everyone’s talking about, or on a patio with a margarita and her very funny husband. Ashley has written for local mom groups, church and is a returning writer for Fort Worth Moms. Her husband hopes she will stick to more pieces on motherhood and less on disappointing stays at grimy hotels.


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