I have been putting off this post for so, so long.
I get A LOT of questions about what I eat. Usually these questions come when people learn that I run half/full marathons, or when they learn that I have been completely gluten free for almost 5 years. People also question me when they learn that I never buy lunch or breakfast, and only occasionally pick up takeout for dinner; I pack meals for work every day, and cook at home as much as possible.
But, as you know, in addition to working and running, I also volunteer and tutor a few days a week. So it wouldn’t be sustainable for me to cook and prep on a daily basis. That means that every Sunday, I prep my lunches out. Typically this means baking some protein….
I usually make 4 large boneless/skinless chicken breasts and divide those up over 5 days.
Next step….making some quinoa (I usually make about 1 cup dry and divide that up over 5 days), and roasting or sautéing some veggies (I’ve found 2 bags of frozen veggies are a good amount for 5 days of lunches).
I then divvy everything up into my fave Pyrex 4oz glassware, and tuck it all into the fridge so I can grab and go for the rest of the week.
Some weeks I make salads, but right now with where I am in my marathon training cycle (um, lots of miles and cross training) I need a little more carb and I’ve found that a scoop of quinoa does the trick and agrees with my gut more than other options.
The pictures above are from a few weeks ago, when I made a southwest-themed zuchinni, sweet potato, chickpea, and pepper veggie sauté and put it over quinoa with chicken. Lately, I’ve been keeping it even simpler since I’m up to super high-mileage long runs and those often trigger some digestive struggles if I’m not careful. I try to reduce my fiber intake during this phase of the game, so my chickpeas are on hold and I’m sticking to simple stuff: roasted zuchinni, chicken seasoned with just salt and pepper, and quinoa.
I don’t just pack lunches, though. I get to work at 7am, and between running club, tutoring, events, and errands I often don’t get home until 7pm. So I make sure to pack enough to keep me going through 12 hours, including a workout.
Here’s how my school day food schedule kind of goes….
5-6am: Wake Up, grab a banana and make a to-go cup of tea
Depending on whether I’m working out in the morning or afternoon, wake up at either 5am or 6am, respectively. I typically get dressed, and make a cup of tea and eat a banana (sometimes with peanut butter if I’m craving it) while I tuck an ice pack into the lunchbox I packed the night before. I also fill my water bottle, and then I’m out the door!
7:15am: Greek Yogurt and Granola W/ Cinnamon & Almond Slivers
I eat an actual breakfast of organic plain greek yogurt with a little bit (about 1.5 tablespoons) of Kind Honey and Oats granola and a pinch of Trader Joe’s Almond Slivers with maybe a teaspoon of cinnamon around 7:15 when I get to work. I mix the granola/almond slivers/cinnamon in these teeny gladware cups every weekend so I can throw them in my lunchbox each morning and not waste time. I used to make eggs every morning around 6:30 and eat at home, but it was making me late for work and I was always hungry again by 10am. So I switched things around and this routine works well for me.
This is when I heat up and enjoy my chicken, quinoa, and veggies. I typically eat all this while checking/sending emails and reading a few news articles and blog posts.
1:30pm: Snack #1
I often have a break around 1:30 and like to have something to snack on while I’m doing paperwork or consulting with other instructors. I usually grab out my carrots/cucumbers and hummus at this point.
3:15-4pm: Snack #2- Pre-Workout Fuel:)
I usually run with my students around 4pm or with my running team at 5:30, so 3:15 is the ideal time to get a little bit of easy carbs into my system. I always bring a piece of fruit and a protein-rich granola bar along with me at this point.
Once I get home, I usually snack on some crackers and dip while I make myself some kind of quick dinner. This is often either A) an omlette with veggies and cheese or B) a piece of fish with a sweet potato and some greens. Sometimes I also have a small protein smoothie, a black bean brownie, or some hot chocolate as dessert, too:)
People are always surprised that I’m not more into sandwiches or cereal, and I almost never make pasta. There are gluten-free versions of all these items widely available, but to be honest they’re pretty pricy and often packed with preservatives and unnecessary sugars. On Fridays I might have cereal for breakfast, bread with my lunch and rice or pasta for dinner to prep for a Saturday morning long run. But typically I prefer more clean options like quinoa, oats, granola and fresh fruit as my carb options. I’ve been pretty conservative- occasionally too conservative, admittedly- about my carb intake for a long time, and I feel like I’ve found a pretty good balance right now.
People are also surprised at how little take out I consume. While I do love a good meal out, I am also a thrifty person. When I first started teaching, I didn’t have the money to spare on take out for lunch, and since that forced me to figure out a standard routine for feeding myself early on, I just never felt the need to stop! Plus I love the time it saves me during the day; leaving work to buy lunch takes up valuable preparation time.
Now You Tell Me…
- How do you meal plan/prep?
- Any other gluten free folks out there?!?
- Runners: What agrees with your gut best?