Lunch Lately

As I’ve mentioned, um, almost every time I’ve blogged this month, work has gotten crazy busy. Generally it just means that I’m always busy, and that my desk looks like this:

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However, it also means that I can’t take long leisurely lunches. I am the only assistant, as well as the receptionist in my office, which often means that when I’m not there and something needs to be done, or the phone’s ringing, or there’s a FedEx guy coming with an important package…sh*t gets cray cray.

There’s not lots of time to walk (or bike) home, whip up something for lunch, clean up and come back in less than an hour. I’ve also been trying to keep to my 3x per week workouts, which usually means lunch happens afterwards at my desk.

So here’s how I solve the problem of “I don’t have much time + I want to be healthy + I’m kind of cheap and don’t want to eat out”:

My most common lunch is leftovers, or whatever dish I made a big pot of on Sunday for lunches the following week. Usually this involves beans or, in the summer, some kind of grain like quinoa that is good to eat cold.

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  • This week: chipotle stout chili. Inspired by a Beeroness recipe, it has a healthy amount of chipotle, Stout beer, and even quinoa! Lots of protein and fiber in this one.

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  • An experiment involving lentils and chipotles (I am on a chipotle kick lately!) – it wasn’t blogworthy, but it served its purpose as lunch for a few days.

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  • Soup soup soup. This one was from a recent trip to my parents’ house…you know, one of those trips that ends with Mom rummaging through the fridge and saying, “Here, take this! I bought too much hummus at Costco! Have some soup!” Her Carrot Ginger soup is the best. In fact, the lunch I packed today includes some leftover turkey meatloaf she sent me home with last night! I added a side of broccoli…. for health 😉
  • As pictured, I also eat a lot of Wheat Thins. We’re running low on snacks in our office pantry, but Wheat Thins are always in stock. Not ideal, but they do the job!

Speaking of soup… I eat a LOT of soup cups. It started when I had a broken hand and couldn’t make much of anything else for lunch. There are a few brands that have pretty good nutritional stats, and many are less than $2 each. Score.

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  • This was actually a picture I sent to T-Man to show him my firm’s new coffee cups (lol) but my favorite brand of soup cup is making a small appearance. McDougalls is probably the most filling one you’ll find (at about 340 calories and 15+g of fiber for their Split Pea/Black Bean varieties), the ingredients are good, and the flavor doesn’t disappoint.

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  • Eating Right is a new brand I spotted on sale at the grocery store this weekend. They are pretty good on keeping the scary ingredients to a minimum, and the first cup I tried on Monday was pretty tasty. They’re only 180-190 calories, but that means they leave me a little hungry. (Wheat Thins to the rescue!)

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A closer look

Another good quick lunch is microwave burritos. The good brands (like Amy’s Organic) tend to be more expensive than soup cups, at $3 each, so I don’t get them often. Yes, I realize I base my grocery shopping decisions on the basis of $1 difference…yes, I might be cheap. At least I can admit I have a problem 🙂

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  • This puppy (from evol foods) has been waiting in our office freezer as a back-up lunch in case I ever forget or don’t have time to plan out a lunch. I was pretty intrigued by the idea of a spinach and tofu burrito, haha.

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Pretty good nutritional stats, too!

And since we’re on the subject of pictures of food I eat at the office, here’s my most common breakfast and one that I don’t have as often, but am trying to work into my weekly routine:

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  • Greek Yogurt (I buy whatever brand is on sale, but Oikos is my favorite!) + a Fiber One 90 calorie brownie. I eat this at least 3 days per week, and I love it. My beef with greek yogurt is that it has zero fiber…so pairing it with a Fiber One brownie is the perfect answer, as each one has 5g of fiber! AND THEY’RE DELICIOUS! I won a box in a giveaway from Christina at Hungry Meets Healthy, and I’ve been buying them regularly ever since.

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  • Smoothies. I’m really trying to make smoothies happen, you guys. I have a blender, and T-Man has a blender, and I almost always have frozen bananas & fruit on hand…But they don’t keep me full very long. Also, we both have roommates, and whenever I plan to make a smoothie in the morning, one always seems to be asleep or on a work conference call and I’d hate to run the noisy blender. The above smoothie was pretty good though: frozen banana, blueberries, juice/zest of an orange, and a dollop of peanut butter.

What is your favorite quick n’ easy lunch?

Do you ever choose price over flavor?

A Week in Groceries

Today, I was planning an update on my jogging/health/etc, but I decided to put it off because I’ve been too busy working on my darn Halloween costume that I haven’t had much spare time to do what I really want regarding the update (which is make a training plan to run a 5K on Thanksgiving!). So I thought I’d do a little something out of the box:

OK, more like out of the Safeway shopping bag…

I’m sharing my grocery shopping, what I generally like to stock my kitchen with, and what I make with what I buy!

First up, my grocery haul for the week from Safeway. There was a tiny version of this photo included in this week’s Weekend in Photos, but here’s the full thing:

Apples, Swanson’s Flavor Boost (‘cuz I had a coupon), Greek yogurt, multigrain tortilla chips (Food Should Taste Good has the BEST chips!), frozen burritos for lunch, granola, frozen chicken breasts, quick oats, cinnamon – pumpkin pie spice – poppy seeds, a sweet potato, and sage. For a total of $38.26!

The next day, I also picked up a spaghetti squash, butternut squash, and a pack of whole wheat English muffins to add $10.99 to the mix, which made my total just about $50.

Notes: I usually do a full grocery trip every two weeks, with a small trip in between. This was actually a pretty expensive grocery week for me, as I invested a good $10 on the spices and stocked up on a few pricier things (see italicized items above) that will last me a while. I usually buy things like tortilla chips, canned goods, and spices at Grocery Outlet (an extreeeeemely cheap bargain grocery store), but their stock frequently changes, and I didn’t find anything good there this week.

Lest you think I survived on these things alone this week, here is a peek at what was already in my kitchen:

Beans (garbanzo and black beans), several whole grain pastas, quinoa (hiding), brown rice, another sweet potato (never keep them in the fridge!), green chiles, an onion, Pop-Tarts, and there is also a giant bag of fun-sized candy hidden behind the penne. Ahem, I bought it for the trick-or-treaters me me me.

And now I apologize to my roomie in advance for exposing the world to the disaster that is our fridge, but…

Pretty much everything in the bottom two rows is mine. Hummus (I ALWAYS have hummus), tortillas, peanut butter, almond milk, a jar of homemade balsamic dressing, bacon, and a thing of sour cream that has probably gone bad. Also, there are brussels sprouts and romaine lettuce in the crisper drawer. Surprisingly, no wine at the moment.

As for the freezer…pumpkin puree, broccoli, and corn. That’s about it. 😉

With the exception of the two squashes and the sweet potato I bought, I’m pretty low on fresh produce at the moment. I was relying pretty heavily on the Farmer’s Market by my work this summer for produce, and as the summer has left, so has it unfortunately. There’s a big market on Sundays, but for some reason I never find myself with the motivation to wake up early enough!

Anywho, here are some of the things I made this week with the above groceries.

Strawberry greek yogurt + Strawberry vanilla granola = Sooooo yummy. A filling breakfast at only 250 calories. Holla. My breakfast each morning is either this, or oatmeal packets at work.

Spaghetti squash tossed with olive oil, fresh thyme, and basil from my parents’ garden. Notice how I have real spaghetti sitting on stand-by, just in case? Haha. Luckily, the squash (plus Mom’s meat sauce, fresh bread, and salad) was just enough to feed me and my parents. Next up, I think I’ll get T-Man to try it out!

Peanut butter and apple sandwich on an English muffin (if you look real hard, you can see some honey too!). I had this for lunch twice this week! I felt like a 6 year old, but it was totally worth it.

I don’t have a picture of me eating a frozen burrito, haha, but here’s one of my soup cups. I pretty much alternate which one I buy each week, and have at least a couple of each on hand at all times.

I used the butternut squash and sage to make soup! So far, that pot is half gone, and it’s served as dinner for me and a two-bowl lunch for T-Man. He’s been holding it hostage at his house since Tuesday…..I’ve been craving it alllll week.

Other lunches this week included quinoa mixed with whatever veggies & beans I had…Other dinners included a quesadilla, sweet potato fries, and baked chicken with broccoli.

Also, it’s safe to assume that I ingested a lot of chips and hummus. As I do..every week.

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THE TAKEAWAY:

  • My main goal when I’m at the grocery store is to buy things that will either last me a long time, or that I can easily make into single servings, since I’m buying for just myself. Also, to save money, obviously. (I never bought meat in college because I didn’t know how to properly preserve it before it went bad — now, I know how to manage my poultry, haha.)
  • I try to keep my kitchen balanced with carbs, proteins, veggies, and just a couple of snacks and sweets (e.g. chips and hummus, Halloween candy).
  • Quick meals like soup cups and burritos are a must for lunch, but for dinners I like to utilize the season’s produce.
  • You won’t find a lot of store-bought sauces, salsas, or dressings on my side of the fridge- I think it’s cheaper, healthier, and more fun (!) to make them yourself. (In fact, most of the hummus I ate this week was homemade, not the Sabra stuff.)

How much do YOU spend on groceries, and how often do you go? Which things do you always make from scratch, and which do you tend to buy ready-made from the store?