How to Turn your Dinner into your Work Lunch
If you don’t think about what you’re going to eat for lunch at work until you’re in the kitchen searching for your keys right before you’re suppose to head out the door to go to work, then this is for you!
If you’re feeling tired at 2pm or later and feel like you could take a nap, a lot of times it’s because of what we ate or could be even what we HAVEN’T eaten. I encourage 80% of the time for you to make your meals at home so you can control the ingredients
We all know we’re suppose to eat healthy but it can become a challenge for us if we haven’t thought about the upcoming week. These recipes can be made as a meal prep on the weekend or can be made on a work day and then you’re all ready in the morning to just grab your lunch from the fridge and head off to work.
When you eat little to no processed foods 80% of the time you will improve your health and it allows 20% of the time for you to enjoy desserts, chips, ice cream etc. (so you don’t feel guilty and so you have an easier time sticking to a healthy lifestyle).
FALL IS HERE
Fall is here and to me it means I can start cooking butternut squash everything! Butternut squash is a great source of Vitamin A (Retionol which acts as an antioxidant to protect our cells, particularly the eyes) and is a good source of Vitamin C to help our bodies fight infection and absorb iron in our foods.
There are many different types of squash out there including acorn (a close second favorite for the fall season), spaghetti squash (my personal least favorite and sorry y’all, you will unlikely see a recipe from me with spaghetti squash in it), pumpkin, zucchini and yellow squash.
THINKS SMARTER NOT HARDER
When you buy a large butternut squash it is big enough to make two or even three different meals! Here I made this into two meals (see the entire video on how I made them here). I start by peeling the squash and then I cut little discs out of it. Next stack the discs on top of each other, 3 tall, and now you can cut three discs in one swoop of your knife! You can even save the seeds to re-use and bake for a snack or part of another meal!
I encourage you to utilize your sheet pan with your veggies. Line your sheet pan with parchment paper and add your squash (most veggies roast in the oven very well). I always drizzle with olive oil if I’m cooking 375*F or less and then with 400*F or higher I use Avocado Oil. This is important because to remember because olive oil has a low smoke point (at about 405*F) and once it starts smoking, it causes carcinogenic properties. So using an oil with a higher smoke point, like Avocado Oil ( at about 520*F), can be used safely for roasting veggies at a higher temp.
Why roast them? —> You can call it the lazy way of cooking but I like to think of it as more efficient! Toss things in the oven and walk away to tend to your kids, the laundry, homework, etc..
HOW TO TURN YOUR DINNER INTO YOUR WORK LUNCH
Since I started using Easy Lunchboxes, I have found it a lot easier to plan my lunches for my husband and myself Plus the kids love them because the foods don’t touch each other! They store very easy and the lids being different colors helps us remember which meal is for whom as the portion sizes differ for everyone in the family. However, I still want you to label the lunch boxes if you plan on putting them in the freezer!
I break it down step by step for you on how to execute these two meals!
- Come up with a plan! What does the upcoming week look like? Do you need to make these meals entirely on the weekend or can you make the dinner’s at night throughout the week and simply have leftovers the next day for lunch?
- This is the time where you not only pick out what you’re going to eat but HOW you will cook these deliciously healthy meals !
- Be flexible with your plan! Life happens and many women I work with get too hung up on having Monday’s meal Monday but if Monday’s meal would be better on Thursday, then change it to Thursday! The point is you know what you will be eating this week and it’s OK to change things around!
- Pick a common food to repeat itself! These two meals have 3 common foods in it (Butternut Squash, Quinoa, Garbanzo Beans). I could have taken it up a notch too (and you can too) by adding chicken to the second meal.
- Grocery Shopping: Before you head to the grocery store – > check to make sure you don’t buy something you already have by going through your pantry and fridge/freezer. (Note: if you have another ingredient that you don’t want to go bad you can use it. For example, lets say 2 days ago you made some black beans- use up those black beans instead of the garbanzo beans or you have sweet potatoes sprouting and don’t want to throw them away- use these too! It’s ok to substitute! Say no to food waste!)
- Start cooking and/or Enjoy your week!
- Store your meals in Easy Lunchboxes
- Don’t forget to grab your meals out of your fridge/freezer in the morning because everything is already made for you!Check out the two recipes I made this week!
Butternut Squash Chicken Chili
Eat Healthy so you can improve your health and feel better!
- 2 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
- 1 Small to Medium White Onion chopped
- 7 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 TBSP Chili Powder
- 1 TBSP Ground Cumin
- 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
- 2 Sprigs Fresh Oregano
- 2 tsp Ground Corriander
- 1 Whole Chicken Cut into fourths (legs, breasts)
- 3 TBSP Tomato Paste
- 24 oz Diced Organic Tomatoes use boxed not canned
- 2 Green Bell Peppers chopped
- 1.5 Cups Water or Chicken Broth
- 1 Medium Butternut Squash peeled & cubed
- 1.5 Cups Cooked Garbanzo Beans
- Salt & Pepper to Taste
- 1/2 Cup Cooked Quinoa
1. Preheat oven to 375*F. Take skin off chicken and add EVOO into Dutch oven. Add chicken and place in oven while you prep your veggies.
2. Chop vegetables. (Butternut squash tip: once you peel the squash, cut squash into discs. Stack 3 discs on top of each other and can cut once and cut through multiple disc to be more efficient with your time)
3. Once your veggies are chopped, remove dutch oven and add on top of chicken. Next add your spices and herbs.
4. Place squash on lined sheet pan. Drizzle with EVOO. ( we add the squash to the sheet pan to avoid it from becoming mush). Add the tomato paste, diced tomatoes, and water/chicken broth to dutch oven.
5. Cook both sheet pan and dutch oven in oven for 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked to an internal temperature of 165*F.
6. Remove bones (save later to make bone broth or chicken broth). Serve in bowls for dinner tonight atop of 1/4 C cooked quinoa and place leftovers in lunchboxes for the next few days. OPTIONAL: Add shredded colby jack cheese on top
- This recipe can also be made in a slow cooker on low for 8-12hrs. Simply add all your ingredients, turn slow cooker on and then come back later to dinner ready!
- If you are using beans from scratch, make sure to start soaking them in the morning before you make this or place in pressure cooker.
- Make sure you label you lunch boxes with your name and day of the week you're eating it.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND CRANBERRY QUINOA BOWL
- 3 cups butternut squash, chopped
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa (I used rainbow quinoa but any type will do)
- 1½ cups water
- ⅓ cup dried cranberries
- ⅓ cup red onion, finely chopped
- 3 Tbsp. toasted pumpkin seeds
- 1/2-1 Cup of Garbanzo Beans
- salt and black pepper
- ½ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp. honey
- 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
- salt and black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 375F.
- Chop your veggies and add butternut squash to sheet pan meal. Drizzle with EVOO and place in oven for 30 minutes.
- While the squash is roasting, cook quinoa per package directions and cook up garbanzo beans too
- To assemble the salad, combine the cooked quinoa, roasted squash, cranberries, red onion, toasted pumpkin seeds in a large bowl. Add the vinaigrette and mix until combined. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. I love this recipe cold! Chill in the refrigerator for couple hours and serve.
- Add ingredients to mason jar with lid and shake it up! Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
If you enjoy how EASY these meals are, then you’ll LOVE being able to make your own sheet pan meals any day of the week using my SHEET PAN MEAL CHEAT SHEET. (Print out the cheat sheet and keep it taped up in your spice cabinet to help make things easier on you!)
Let me know how if you try this recipe! I would love to hear from you!