In the perfect world, you’d set aside time daily to plan and prepare healthy lunches to take to work.
But the reality? Oftentimes, there’s only a minute to grab easy (and not always healthy) packaged foods while running out the door.
If this scenario sounds all too familiar, then you may want to try assembling “Greens to Go” containers. It doesn’t have to be a labor-intensive task and it is a simple way to increase your daily intake of vegetables. Incorporating a greens container at lunch helps you to get the recommended 2 to 3 cups of vegetables per day.
Here’s the hack. Follow these simple steps to create your own “Greens to Go” containers:
- Find appropriate containers. You will need multiple same size containers for the week. Canning (or Mason) jars are perfect as they are made of environmentally-friendly glass, reusable, and have an airtight seal to keep moisture out preventing discoloration and nutrient losses.
- Determine Which Greens to Use: Each lettuce varietal contributes key nutrients (such as iron, calcium, fiber, vitamin A and Vitamin C), so I recommend incorporating a mixture. Try using a spring mix or hardy romaine lettuce as the base ingredient. No measuring is necessary! Take a handful or two of the greens (each handful is roughly a cup) and place at the bottom of the container.
- Add Vegetables: If you like crunch in your salads, purchase a bunch of radishes, bell peppers or head of cauliflower to dice into the containers. Use the same handful concept and place in each container to add color and increase nutrient content.
- Protein Please: In order for your greens container to satisfy hunger and keep you full throughout the afternoon hours, make sure to add some type of lean protein source. For example, cut up leftover chicken, lean beef, tofu, hard boiled eggs, or spoon in canned beans.
- Condiments: Add fibrous carbohydrates (think of the leftover grain from dinner, a few fresh fruit slices or 1-2 tablespoons of dried fruits) for added texture to the meal. Try nuts and seeds (a few tablespoons are enough) for a dose of healthy fat and flavor.
Once your jars are loaded, seal them and they will keep in the refrigerator all week until use. I suggest keeping salad dressing in a separate container to avoid soggy greens. Pour the dressing in the jar and give it a shake right before consuming. The jars can double as an eating bowl if needed!
Here are a few “Greens to Go” creations to try:
(Jar#1): Baby spinach leaves, sliced pears (fresh or canned in natural juice), gorgonzola cheese, pomegranate seeds, walnuts + vinaigrette dressing
(Jar #2): Romaine lettuce, sliced hard-boiled eggs, kidney beans, grape tomatoes, radish, and cucumber slices + light buttermilk dressing
(Jar #3): Spring Mix, tofu chunks, diced green onion, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds + Asian dressing
(Jar #4: Arugula, Radicchio, fresh mozzarella cheese slices, cherry tomatoes, fresh basil sprigs + balsamic vinaigrette
(Jar #5): Iceberg lettuce, diced turkey, quinoa, corn, avocado, green onion slices + light salsa ranch dressing
(Jar #6): Kale, rotisserie chicken chunks, roasted beet slices, feta cheese, avocado chunks + citrus vinaigrette
Try a new jar variation each week. The possibilities are endless!