Sack lunches are the canary of my diet. When I’m starting to deprioritize healthy eating, it shows in my lunches first. On the other hand, I know that I’m on the right track when making a healthy from-scratch sack lunch starts to feel like second nature to me. Yesterday I packed a salad with arugula, sun dried tomatoes, pine nuts, and leftover chicken, plus a container of cantaloupe and blueberries. It kept perfectly well in my office fridge and it made me so happy to eat. The prep time was pretty minimal…the fruit was leftover from breakfast and the chicken was also leftover. For me, the hardest thing with lunch is getting in the habit of figuring out something to pack the night before. If I have at least a vague idea of what I’m going to make, it’s a lot easier to throw something together on autopilot in the morning.
Another important barometer for me is how varied my meals are. There’s nothing wrong with eating the same thing a lot–I eat the same breakfast almost every day–but when I’m doing well, I tend to mix things up and experiment a bit more. My latest experiment was red snapper from the farmers market. Red snapper is a pretty basic fish, but I’d never tried it before. I enjoyed it–it had a nice firm texture, which I imagine would work well on the grill.
I used up some of the leftovers tonight in a dish of pasta puttanesca, which was delicious. Puttanesca sauce is one of my favorite things, and it is a great way to get a seafood fix using whatever you have on hand, fresh or canned.
I’m proud that I’ve been able to keep food a high priority in spite of my busy summer work schedule. It’s always been a fear of mine that cooking healthy food was a luxury of a student schedule, and that I would be in big trouble once I was out in the real world. A real world schedule definitely makes things harder–I learned that the hard way last semester during my externship. Last summer, my focus was on proving to myself that I could survive a really challenging, busy experience without spending too much energy on food preparation. I achieved that–the sky did not fall and I ate pretty decently. Now, my challenge is to learn to prioritize food even if I do have a full time work schedule and a commute. I didn’t know if I could do that, but thus far, I’m doing well. I am proud of myself!