Taking a lunch can seem like an impossible task due to a lack of time or demanding workloads. However, there are many reasons to not skip this important time for nourishment and a break. Planning meals ahead of time allow for more time to enjoy what you’re eating, helps save money, and can keep you on track if you’re incorporating certain foods or avoiding others.
5 Reasons to Not Skip Lunch
- If you’re an employee, the law might require it
- Not all states require an employer to offer a meal break, however, some do.
- 30 minutes or longer is pretty standard to count as a true meal break
- Eating lunch can prevent afternoon food cravings or binges
- Skipping lunch, or any meal can cause a feeling of food deprivation which has been shown to have a rebound effect in the form of food binging
- Energy levels decline when you skip a meal and moods can take a hit
- A lack of enough food intake can cause a drop in blood sugar causing you to feel weary, dizzy, or tired
- Skipping a meal can cause irritability sometimes referred to as being “hangry”
- Productivity can go down
- Your ability to complete work can suffer from decreased energy
- Our brains need the energy to thrive and help us maintain focus.
- For social interaction, or a time to retreat
- Dining with coworkers may improve working relationships and a sense of team
- If you lunch with your family or friends it can be a time to talk to one another
- You may also choose to dine alone to recharge and self reflect, preferably away from your desk
Meal Prep Ideas
Time is a huge factor in whether or not we eat out, bring our lunch, or even take a lunch at all. Here are some meal prep methods and recipes that can save you time. You can prep ingredients ahead of time and store them in labeled containers or storage bags until it’s time to cook. Writing out a weekly lunch menu can also help with organization and serve as something to look forward to.
Using a pressure cooker or crockpot
Both pressure cooking or crockpot cooking allows you to place all ingredients together, set the timer, and cook. This leaves time to sit down and relax, clean dishes or multitask in whatever way is helpful. Here is a recipe with lots of flavors you’ll look forward to eating on your lunch, Instant Pot Chana Masala.
Sheet Pan Meals
In sheet pan cooking the idea is to place all foods onto one pan while cooking in an oven. Sometimes two pans are needed depending on the recipe. Getting two servings of fish a week, such as salmon can help prevent heart disease. Read here for more info and check out this recipe for Salmon and Vegetables Sheet Plan Dinner. The leftovers can be packed for the next day’s lunch.
Salad in a Jar Meals
Salad is refreshing and versatile. Make sure all of your ingredients are cooked and chilled to the appropriate temperature before packing your jar. Ingredients are stacked one over the other typically with the dressing on the bottom or in a separate container. This recipe for Summer Antipasto Salad in a Jar can actually be enjoyed in all seasons of the year.
Soup may be one of the best make-ahead meals out there. This recipe for Chicken and Wild Rice Soup contains filling protein and fiber that will help sustain your energy levels and warm you up on a cold day (or in a cold office).
Salads can be prepped and placed in to-go containers the night before. Spinach holds up pretty well, as does arugula. If using romaine, iceberg or other similar greens, use parchment paper or smaller containers to separate ingredients and prevent any sogginess to the lettuce or crunchy toppings. Here is a recipe for a colorful Blueberry and Avocado Spinach Salad
There may be days when you just aren’t hungry, don’t want to interrupt being in the zone, or get called to the last minute meeting. A lunch break may not be feasible on these days or it may be taken later in the day. Having a few snacks or even a protein bar tucked away can help in these moments until you can have your next meal. Ordering a meal or going out to eat also has its place. Decide what’s right for you.