I have been experimenting with the paleo diet/primal blueprint recently, or some variation of it, so I decided to pack a week’s worth of grain-free lunches to see how practical it was. I realize tht many folks with gluten intolerance, Celiac’s disease, etc., don’t have a choice and always have to eat wheat-free, but there are no grains of any kind this week. It is also not entirely “primal” since there is more fruit, sugar, and dairy than is usually allowed in those eating styles. Most things were grab and go (some convenience foods like “bars” of various types) and others were leftovers. I also included some food for breakfasts and snacks since I leave for work at about 5:45 in the morning and my body prefers to eat breakfast a little later than that. Let’s see how I did!
Breakfast: Mother’s Milk Tea (in the stainless steel Kleen Kanteen), strawberries, organic yogurt. Lunch: Carrots and ranch dressing, marinated olives and roasted garlic cloves, Mexican coconut candies (those orange round patty things), mini cherry pie Larabar. Snack: mini apple pie Larabar, roasted & salted almonds. Also featured: My fun byo lunchbag–an idea I got from other teachers who had them at my school. They are so cute and they fit more than you would think! Plus they come in lots of designs so you can always tell yours apart instead of hunting through all the plastic grocery bags that everyone else brings 🙂
Breakfast: blueberry FruitChia bar and macadamia nuts (a favorite on the primal blueprint). Lunch: Green salad with taco-seasoned ground beef and shredded cheese. Snack: Marinated olives and roasted garlic cloves, apple
Breakfast: blackberries and organic yogurt. Lunch: Parmesan-crusted baked chicken, spaghetti squash with butter and garlic, roasted asparagus. Snack: roasted & salted almonds, mini cherry pie Larabar
Breakfast: raspberry FruitChia bar and macadamia nuts. Lunch: Carrots and ranch dressing, apple and peanut butter. Snack: d-selva bar (dried bananas, dark chocolate, puffed quinoa)
Breakfast: Blueberry FruitChia bar and organic cottage cheese. Lunch: Carrots and ranch, apple and peanut butter, mini cashew cookie Larabar. Snack: mini apple pie Larabar and macadamia nuts
Analysis: I think I did well in the beginning of the week, but Thursday and Friday were exhausted, uncreative, grab whatever kind of days. As the week wears on, I just don’t have the energy to prepare fresh lunches like I did with the day I made my salad the night before. I reach for “bar” products that are easy and that I know are nutritionally sound (no long list of mystery ingredients). I would improve my lunch habits by making some mini egg-based frittatas in muffin cups to pack for breakfasts that could be heated up, adding protein and making them more filling. I might also pack all my lunches on the weekend and line them up in the fridge as a time and energy saver during the week.
Educational Notes: As mentioned before, many students at my school are on free and reduced lunch programs. Those students who do bring their own lunch often tend to bring ramen noodles or something similar. I realize that my “convenience” bars are much more expensive than their convenience food, but I wish healthier, whole convenience foods were more economically accessible. One great habit that I see many students pick up is that they always grab extra fruit from the cafeteria as snacks.