Lunch foods have always been my biggest culinary challenge, health-wise and budget-wise.
Trying to eat healthy on a budget takes planning and work. I am trying to steer my menus away from
any processed foods. We already eat a good diet, but sandwich meats are usually processed so I am trying to find ways to avoid them (and their nasty nitrites and nitrates) in our diets. They are also expensive which is hard on the budget.
I pack my husband's lunch every work day for him and so it's important to me to pack him healthy foods. I'm wanting to get away from the deli-meat rut of turkey and ham sandwiches so I am making a list of things that I can make instead that pack well and are hearty. Here's what I've come up with so far.
Healthy Alternatives to Lunchmeat
Canned tuna (Costco's Kirkland Signature regular tuna is the best I've ever had & it's budget friendly)
You can't beat tuna for its convenience, great taste and protein. It's highly nutritious and delicious. Mix w/ mayo and spread on sandwich bread, a tortilla or crackers. Sprinkle it plain on a green salad.
Wild-caught Canned Salmon It's easy to come by, inexpensive, and delicious for salmon spread
Egg Salad According to Dr. Wallach, you can never have too many eggs. I personally adore eggs cooked all different ways. Add a splash of white vinegar to the cooking water so the shells don't crack and they'll also peel easier.
Real Chicken Sometimes I just buy a rotisserie chicken and use the meat for sandwiches when I'm pressed for time and don't want to cave in to the sliced deli meats. At least it's whole, real chicken cooked on the bone (which is healthier). So while it's not as good as a home roasted chicken, at least it's less-processed meat and I feel better about it. Slice it or make chicken salad with mayo & diced celery.
Meatloaf When we lived in the country, and the nearest grocery store was a 10-15 mile drive away. So I became very disciplined in home cooking. My husband worked very hard (still does!) and needed a hearty lunch every day which I would prepare the night before. One time, I made a meatloaf after dinner just so he could have meatloaf sandwiches the next day for lunch (his favorite). It only takes about 5 minutes to prepare and then then an hour in the oven.
Roast Beef Beef is getting so expensive. We have bought 1/4 of cow in the past as well as getting 1/2 a moose from my husband's hunting and I sure miss having a freezer stocked with good wild meat! So if/when it's affordable, I purchase beef for roasting. My favorite cut is Round Eye Round because it has so little fat and slices so nicely.
Roast Lamb I didn't start cooking lamb until a few years ago. Mainly because it was intimidating and I didn't know what to do with it. But also lamb is on the pricey side (about $25 for a boneless leg at Costco). However, I reasoned that it is worth it for the variety it adds to our diet. It seems like americans are stuck in a beef and chicken rut. So I try to add different protein sources as much as possible with lamb and wild caught fish.
Vegetarian I'm not a proponent of vegetarianism or veganism in any way, but some hummus, avocado, sprouts, juicy tomato makes a nice sandwich.
Peanut butter and jelly This is my husband's least favorite sandwich, but me and my kids like it. We only buy non-transfat peanut butter and I try to only use healthy or homemade jams/jellies. I found a non-gmo grape jelly at Wal-Mart so food companies are listening to the health demands of the public. How do you show them what you want? Don't buy their junk anymore. Nothing speaks louder to a manufacturer than decreased sales!
What about you? Do you send your husband to work with a healthy lunch? If so please share your ideas!