Lunch. It needs to happen. It needs to be hearty. Scrimping on it leads to overconsumption of chocolate, 4 pm-mochas, and Cabot Clothbound cheddar. And yet…we so love to convince ourselves that that leftover half of a sweet potato and last slice of turkey, eaten standing up, is enough, thanks, we just need to get back to the day.
This fall we’re treating lunch to the same planning and thoughtfulness as we do breakfast and dinner. We’ll each present our own strategy for transforming our midday meal from a few bites of whatever is easiest to an Athlete Food power meal. We’ll include recipe links and recipe tweaks to crank up the nutrition or tone down the heaviness to make a meal more lunch-able.
The Strategy: Cook big batches.
The problem: My workdays end early at 2:30 or 3:30 pm, since I pick up my kids. I try to meet a friend for lunch out about once a week, since I spend way, way too much time in my house. But on the other days, lunch feels like a nuisance; it’s a hunger I have to tend to in order to be productive for another hour or two. About the most time-consuming task I’ll take on for lunch is scrambling an egg. So even composing a salad is sometimes an impediment to me eating a real meal. True confession: I frequently consume lunch in under 10 minutes.
The Plan: Cook a big batch of something on Sunday or Monday and eat it all week. In late-fall and winter, soup is my girl Friday.
The Tweak: The smoky sweet potato soup I relied on last fall for weekend meals converts perfectly to a lunch solution. It’s easy to make a huge batch, and the flavors intensify with time. Cooking it doesn’t take much effort—just planning for enough time to bake the sweet potatoes. Though with the football-sized potatoes we’re getting here in Nashville this fall, that can be as long as an hour and a half.
The only change I’m making this year is to replace the sausage with a seed mix. I used some of everything in my pantry: salted sunflower, raw pumpkin, chia, and sesame seeds, but any combination will do. My goal was to make the soup hearty, but meatless, since my family’s cold-weather meals tend toward egg-and-sausage and meatballs and bison nachos.