As many of us are heading back into the office, we are having to relearn juggling added commute time, eating lunch away from home and getting ready — things we have evaded over the last 18 plus months.
Rushed mornings can easily lead to skipped breakfast, forgetting to prep lunch for the week leads to DoorDashing your favorite burger spot, and let’s be honest, cheese and crackers look like an appealing dinner when the last thing you want to do is cook. So, how do we resume normal office hours without compromising our health?
While the answer is surely complicated and multifaceted, one of the biggest secrets to success is getting creative and planning ahead. Let’s be real, no one wants to eat the same sad salad you prepped on Sunday five days in a row, and those spinach and egg bites you baked in your muffin tin start to lose their appeal on day three. So, while prepping and planning ahead are crucial to staying on track, you have to want to eat the things you prepare, or else you’ll wind up with a lot of wasted food and a trash can full of take-out containers.
Whether you need quick breakfasts and lunches to pack for going back into the office or are burned out from the same rotation of 2021 work-from-home meals, here are three creative recipes to get you through the week feeling nourished and on top of your game.
Bonus: these recipes require little-to-no cooking and are ready in under 30 minutes.
An ideal breakfast needs to have plenty of protein, healthy fats and fiber to carry you through to lunch. While eggs are great, cooking and doing dishes before you head out the door every day is not. The solution? Chia seed pudding.
You’ve probably seen this recipe circulating, but if you haven’t tried it, now is the time! This recipe is easy to make for the week because it requires no cooking. It is also incredibly versatile, and you can experiment with new flavors each day of the week and different toppings every morning.
To prep, set out Mason jars or other single-serve glass containers. For each serving, combine 3 tablespoons of whole chia seeds and ¾ cup of your favorite plant-based milk. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of maple syrup or agave to sweeten. Mix well with a fork, and pop them in the fridge overnight.
For added variety and fun, try some of my favorite flavor and nutrition boost mix-ins before chilling them — cocoa powder and cinnamon, matcha powder, turmeric and ginger, vanilla and lavender syrup. For even more variety, top with granola, sliced bananas, berries, pumpkin seeds, fresh herbs, cocoa nibs or dark chocolate chips. Maybe even swirl in almond butter; the sky’s the limit! These can be refrigerated and are just as tasty on day five as they were on day one.
When thinking about lunch, it’s again important to prioritize protein to avoid the afternoon blood sugar crash. For those of us who don’t have the time or desire to spend every Sunday over the stove, this no-cooking-required lunch is perfect to incorporate into your rotation. Whip up this recipe in 5 to 10 minutes the night before or the morning of, and your taste buds will thank you!
Tinned fish packs a powerhouse of nutrition benefits and is my favorite go-to protein source in a pinch. My favorite is wild-caught salmon, but tuna, kipper, herring and other fish, or even chicken, are all great options as well. But the classic mayonnaise and pickles are so overdone.
Instead, try this Southwest twist on the classic tuna salad. Mix your protein of choice with half an avocado, the juice of half a lime and a generous sprinkling of Tajin. Avocado is a great mayo substitute for vegans, anyone with egg allergies or if you just want to change things up. The lime and smoky, spicy flavors of the Tajin add a kick. Pair with gluten-free crackers and tortilla chips in a lettuce wrap or as a classic sandwich.
Pasta is a tried-and-true easy weeknight meal but is not always on my list of most nutritious dinners for the week. This super easy, creative hack will add enough of a nutrition boost for you to feel good about continuing with this Monday night staple.
Grab whatever veggies you have on hand and pop them into a food processor. Chop until very fine while you boil your favorite pasta. Then, simply throw the veggie mixture into a pan with a bit of olive oil before you add pasta sauce and simmer. The good news is that this adds a total of about two minutes to total prep time, and the payoff is worth it — fiber to keep your gut healthy, tons of phytonutrients and added vitamins to support the immune system. Some of my favorite veggies to sneak in are mushrooms, onions, broccoli, kale and bell peppers, but you can get creative and try any combination of what you have in the fridge!
Remember, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to add more creativity and variety to your weekday meals. Thinking outside of the box with new flavor combinations, rotating your protein of choice or sneaking in extra nutrition to classic recipes can be easy and fun. While going back to work in the office can have its challenges, staying satiated and nourished doesn’t have to be one of them.
About the Author
Megan Wiley is a nutritional therapy practitioner and certified yoga teacher. She founded Wiley Wellness to empower people to take charge of their health through a full mind-body approach. By addressing the root cause of symptoms, she helps clients reclaim their physical and energetic health. For more great nutrition and mindset resources, find her on Instagram @wileywellness.