While the start of school looks a little different this year, whether you’re WFH and/or overseeing remote learning, having simple low carb lunch and snack solutions at your fingertips will make life much easier, especially if you can get your family involved in meal prep and clean-up. Now more than ever, it’s important to have plenty of healthy options so everyone can fend for themselves if you’re stuck on a never-ending Zoom session or the kids are getting antsy in between “classes”. It also doesn’t hurt to get into a routine of “packing” (or at least planning and prepping) lunches and snacks the night before to help establish some consistency and a schedule versus a frantic fridge free-for-all. If everyone is at home, you do have a lunch advantage since whatever you do doesn’t necessarily have to be portable or need to be re-heated in the microwave. You can elevate your “school” and “work” lunches and snacks with these recipes and tips.
To start, let’s talk about the quality of your lunch and snack choices. Glycemic means “relating to sugar”. The higher the glycemic impact of a food, the greater effect it has on your blood sugar and insulin levels. Since insulin is considered the “fat-storage” hormone, eating high-glycemic foods can sabotage your weight, health and energy. High-glycemic foods include white rice, white bread, potatoes, chips, cookies, candy and anything with a high sugar content. Low-glycemic foods include fresh vegetables, low-sugar fruits, nuts, avocados, legumes and whole grains and will give you steady energy and a well-running metabolism. Here’s how you can swap high-glycemic carbs for low-glycemic carbs in typical “school” lunches and snacks:
- Cherry tomatoes and ranch dressing instead of chips and dip
- Fresh berries instead of processed fruit “snacks”
- A handful of nuts instead of crackers
- Steamed broccoli drizzled with homemade Bacon-Cheddar-Cheese Sauce instead of packaged mac and cheese
- Keto Chicken Tenders in Tarragon Cream Sauce instead of chicken nuggets and ketchup
- Keto Bacon and Jalapeno Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and Cream of Tomato Basil Soup instead of grilled cheese sandwiches made with white bread and American cheese with canned tomato soup
- Low Carb Chicken and Cheese Quesadillas instead of quesadillas made with white flour tortillas. (You can swap low carb tortillas in any quesadilla, taco, burrito or fajita recipe.)
- Make a low carb sandwich by swapping regular bread for low carb bread.
- Make a low carb wrap by swapping a high-carb wrap for a low carb wrap, tortilla or romaine leaf.
- If you haven’t already, it’s time to learn to love leftovers. You can make a big pot of low carb chili, soup or stew for dinner that tastes just as delicious heated up for lunch the next day.
- And you can conquer the afternoon slump with these 5 keto-friendly snack recipes everyone will love and that are simple to prepare.
The good news is that all this eating in is good for your budget, since you’re planning and shopping for your lunches and snacks in advance. If you need a little inspiration, you can check out these sample meal plans for Atkins 20, Atkins 40 and Atkins 100 and my 9 tips for doing Atkins on a budget.