Fast Lunches–for Big Kids or Small

School’s back and with it, the daily tedium of packing lunches.  Even those without kids have to deal with this tedious task if the goal is to eat healthfully.  Here’s an article I wrote for Boulder Weekly‘s CU Student Guide, for dorm students who want a homemade, healthy option on occasion.  I realized this advice could be equally helpful for busy parents and others seeking fast but healthy lunch options.

Quick Recipe:  Microwave Thai Rice Bowl

No fuss, no mess–frozen veggies are a boon to busy cooks, especially with nutritional values that are nearly, if not completely equal to fresh.
Picture courtesy of Jina Lee, Wikipedia Commons

Looking for quick lunches that are wholesome, too?  The frozen foods aisle has a good selection of real, whole foods all washed, cut and ready to pop in the microwave.  Combine with a few strategic deli purchases and ready made sauces for a meal that’s faster than fast food but still tasty, fresh and healthful.  What’s more, it’s easy enough for older kids to make on their own.

  • 1 bag frozen peas
  • 1 bag frozen brown rice
  • 1 cooked chicken breast from a deli or a couple portions of chicken from a leftover rotisserie chicken, cut or torn into small pieces
  • 2-4 spoonfuls San-J Spicy Peanut Sauce, to taste

Step 1  Microwave peas in a big covered glass dish, as directed on the package.

Step 2  Microwave rice a second big, covered glass dish, as directed on the package.

Step 3  Combine the cooked peas with cooked rice.  Stir in chicken and sauce to taste.  Microwave 1-2 minutes, stir and taste.  If not hot enough, microwave another 1-2 minutes.  Eat and enjoy!

Notes: 

Enjoy some variety and have fun being creative with this dish

  • Vegetables:  Practically any frozen vegetable can work in this dish:  green beans, chopped spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, etc. Experiment with different brands for the best flavor.  Stahlbush (at Vitamin Cottage) has reliably good taste, as does Safeway’s O brand of green beans
  • Sauces:  Teriyaki, Szechuan, Sweet and Sour, Hoisin and Sesame Ginger are just a few options.  Or go Italian with Marinara or pesto.  Just read the ingredient listing and stick to sauces made with real, whole ingredients you can pronounce!
  • Protein:  Scour the deli and salad bar for options like baked tofu, roasted turkey pork roast, and garbanzo beans.

Also, be sure to use brown rather than white rice–it has a lot more flavor and the natural nutrients haven’t been stripped away.  Whole Foods sells it, or just freeze your own with extra leftover rice, so it’s all ready when you need it in a hurry.

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