Healthy lunches take work

A combination of recent experiences have led me to the topic for today's post: healthy lunches take work. I'll start with this little gem that Oliver stumbled across this evening on Digg.

Oh yeah, that Lunchable comes with both a burger-like-substance (which I assume has a Twinkies-inspired shelf life) AND a generic cola! MMmmm! (Ok, but seriously, how did any of us survive all the crap food directed at kids in '80s and '90s? I for one was clinically cuckoo for Coco Puffs.) 

While the American population is trending towards healthier eating I still notice A LOT of bad choices being made at lunch time. And while this may make me the bad guy (not sure how many, if any, co-workers read this) I think this needs to be said:

• Lean Cuisines are not a healthy alternative. Foremost they have way too much salt. Additional offenses include: overly processed and preserved ingredients, never filling anyone up and substantially altering one's taste buds for the flavors of real foods. 
• Muffins are cake. Banana bread is also cake. Bagels, in my opinion, pretty much cake.... Do you see where I'm going with this? Let's not kid ourselves. None of the above foods should be counted as a daily healthy lunch; they are sugar laden, extremely refined carbohydrates. 
• Restaurant lunch portions are ridiculous! It's lunch not THANKSGIVING! If you're going out to eat for lunch remember that your portion size should be the size of your fist. 

On days when I have not planned ahead and packed a lunch I am faced with the everyman dilemma: where should I go for lunch? My first choice is Alon's for a salad - but the over $7 price tag often steers me into Moe's for a questionably healthy, $3 black bean taco (no cheese, no sour cream, yes to gauc, salsa and fresh veggies). It only takes an hour for me to regret that decision - and that's always because of the after effects of too much hidden sodium (those tacos leave me PARCHED). The next day I am sure to bring something from home. 

Having a healthy, homemade lunch every work day takes planning and work. It's not something either Oliver or myself LIKE to do. But doing it makes a big difference in our overall health, budget and waistline. Most days we eat beans. On days when the beans have run out we eat left overs from dinner. Today was one of those days and my lunch consisted of a grilled chicken leg and rice mixed with leftover vegetables. It was jumble of three different dinners - but it still tasted good and I never questioned how good it was for me.