After Thanksgiving, chances are there will be some meat left on the turkey. It makes for a delicious turkey salad sandwich or can be added to soups and other recipes. In fact, left-over roasted or smoked turkey may offer a nice change in the quest to pep up workday lunches.
We've all been there: Fed up with another boring sandwich, tired of dried out leftovers and not wanting to spend hard-earned money eating out each day.
One of the keys to eating healthy is planning, as noted by numerous dietitians and other health experts. That means putting in a little work, but it will pay off when your healthy lunch is ready to go in the morning.
The first step is to get some inexpensive containers. You can buy a set or reuse trays with lids you've collected from carryout meals or from the deli. Then, take a little time on the weekend, line them up and creatively fill each. Or you can prepare the next day's lunch each night before.
Here are some ideas for turning a bland lunch into a savory, yet healthy mid-day meal:
Recharge your sandwiches: Switch it up by trying a new kind of bread, a new type of cheese (thinly sliced), a new spread and filling. A panini maker also helps. Go beyond turkey or ham — think grilled veggies, grilled chicken or apples with melted cheese. Spread with hummus, pesto, avocado or cranberry chutney. Add caramelized onions, jalapeños or sautéed mushrooms for an added burst of flavor. For a healthy lunch, just eat half a sandwich, along with your favorite green leafy salad or cup of soup.
Try a slow-cooker soup: A slow cooker is perfect for cooking vegetable soup, potato soup, broccoli cheddar soup, chicken noodle soup and any bean soup. After a few minutes of preparation, you can put the lid on it and walk away. It makes a good pairing with your new sandwiches. Just be mindful of portions, especially with heavier soups. Get a lighter potato soup recipe: bit.ly/1bOjWfs. And a lighter cheddar broccoli one: bit.ly/XSIy1K.
Try a slow-cooker sandwich: The slow cooker is also good for simmering pork for pulled pork sandwiches or chicken for chicken tacos and wraps.
Rethink leftovers: Instead of reheating the same items you ate at dinner the night before, just take a portion of it and revamp it. For example, slice a small portion of leftover meatloaf for a mini-meatloaf sandwich, using a small whole-wheat roll. Drizzle with something saucy, such as spicy tomato (take the sauce you used to top the meatloaf and add cayenne pepper). Add some vegetables and a low-sugar yogurt to round out the meal.
Think outside the bun: Try wrapping meat and/or vegetables with lettuce, cabbage or whole-wheat tortillas or placing them in whole-wheat pita bread. Try an open-faced sandwich, using just one slice of bread. Or, go in a different direction with a crustless quiche. Get a healthy recipe: bit.ly/k06OJ8.
Make your own bowl: Chipotle is tasty, but it could get expensive if you ate there every day. The portions are also big, and the sodium content may be worrisome to those watching their blood pressure.
Take beans (black or pinto), add some sautéed onions and bell peppers, jalapeños and brown rice. If you need some meat, add leftover grilled chicken breast that has been cubed. You can cook all of the items and place them in a small bowl with a lid the night before. Find a smaller container to keep salsa and avocado. You can serve it on a bed of lettuce if you want something leafy and green.