Think outside the lunch box!
As an adult, you are responsible for not only feeding yourself, but your family as well. With the children now on summer break, it's the perfect time to kick your healthy living into high gear and make yourself lunch.
Finding ways to stretch each dollar while maintaining a healthy diet - compounded by the need for it to excite your taste buds - is becoming even more challenging these days.
"The body needs quality fuel in the form of nutrients and sometimes, out of convenience, we choose the wrong foods that contain empty or junk calories. There are healthy food options that are readily available, and very reasonably priced, such as beans, ground provisions and vegetables," dietitian and nutritionist Kerry Weatherly explains.
Food has searched high and low to find four recipes, which are tasty, easy to prepare and cost just under $500 (the price of an average 'box food' ) for each dish so that you will be able to attend to other things, such as taking that well-needed beach trip this summer.
Tools you will need
Before heading out to the market or wherever you get your provisions, it's recommended that you equip your kitchen with a few tools to make the process of preparing lunch for on-the-go consumption a runaway success. Here's a list of things you will need:
1. Airtight containers: Invest in sturdy airtight containers of varying sizes, which can be found in most supermarkets. Try to purchase quality items that will last a long time and won't spill easily during transit.
2. Lunch bag: For the fashion-forward readers, feel free to make a statement with a retro-themed bag, or if you are more of the functional type, go for something that is easy to clean and durable. Whatever the choice, ensure it's properly insulated to keep your food at a constant temperature.
3. Resealable sandwich bags: These go a long way as they can be used to transport your sandwiches and snacks. Added bonus: they are reusable and environmentally friendly.
Lunches for $500 or less
Here are four menu ideas, including options for those who prefer vegetarian, gluten-free and a generally healthier meal.
Sweet and Sour Chunks with Pumpkin Rice (Vegetarian)
For sweet and sour chunks
2tbsp brown sugar
1tbsp light soy sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1 small tin pineapple chunks
1 cup chunks (already soaked)
1/2 onion (chopped)
For pumpkin rice
1/4 cup rice (brown is a healthier choice)
1/4 cup pumpkin (cut in small cubes)
1/2 cup coconut milk
Sprig of thyme
2 pimento seeds (or based on your preference)
Salt to taste
1. Combine the first five ingredients in a bowl.
2. Heat a little oil in a shallow pot then add onions.
3. Sauté onions until translucent, then add chunks and sauce.
4. Cook for 7 minutes on a low flame.
5. Put coconut milk to boil.
6. Add rice, pumpkin, and seasoning to coconut milk, then lower heat and cook for 10 minutes or until rice is soft.
Power Salad with Caribbean Passion Ham and Honey Lime Dressing (Pork)
Add any amount of each
Lettuce - roughly chopped
Chickpeas - drained and rinsed
Purple onions - thinly sliced
Cherry tomatoes cut in half
Mushrooms - cubed
Caribbean Passion chub ham cut into cubes
Add all ingredients in a bowl.
Honey Lime Dressing
1/4 cup olive oil
1tbsp lime zest
3tbsp lime juice
1tsp Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
In a bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime zest, honey, lime juice, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper. Pour over or toss with salad to serve.
Spicy Sweet Chicken Sandwich
3 slices wholegrain bread
2tbsp pepper jelly
1 handful lettuce
1tbsp mixed Italian seasoning
1tsp cayenne pepper
2 boneless chicken thighs
1 small tomato (plummie)
Salt and pepper taste
1. Season chicken with salt, Italian seasoning and cayenne pepper, and grill for 3 minutes each side. Set aside.
2. Toast the bread and spread pepper jelly evenly over one side of each slice. On one slice of bread, lay chicken, lettuce and tomato. Season with black pepper, then cover with another slice.
3. Pile on the rest of the chicken, lettuce and tomato. Season again and top with the third slice.
Quinoa Burrito Bowl (Gluten-free)
1 cup quinoa (cooked)
1/4 cup black beans (cooked)
1/2 cup shrimp
1/2 cup mixed greens
1tsp turmeric powder
1tbsp taco seasoning
2tbsp grated cheddar cheese
1. Sauté shrimp and black beans in turmeric and taco seasoning in a shallow pan with oil. Cook until shrimp look opaque. Set aside and cool.
2. To cook quinoa, gently bring two cups of chicken broth to a boil. Add quinoa and salt to taste. Cook for 5 minutes or until all the water is absorbed, then fluff and set aside.
3. Place quinoa in a bowl and add mixed greens. Top with shrimp and black bean mixture.
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