Before I quit my job to stay home with Annalyn, I didn’t give much thought to lunch. Annalyn ate at daycare, and I nuked leftovers or a frozen meal. But for the past year I haven’t had that luxury. (Yes, the luxury of someone else feeding my child while I eat a lukewarm meal at my desk while watching YouTube videos.)

Honestly, I didn’t anticipate this particular struggle as a stay-at-home mom (surprise #43!), but figuring out lunch is a constant battle at our house. But not in the way you might assume.

I can figure out what to give Annalyn for lunch. She’s occasionally picky, but she is a champ when it comes to eating fruits and veggies. So as long as I can produce a few chicken nuggets, a cheese quesadilla or a PB&J along with those, she’s happy.

The problem, I’ve found, is figuring out what to feed myself. I don’t want to cook a full meal, because that’s what dinner is for. I don’t want something that requires a dozen steps or parts, because then Annalyn has to either wait on me or eat by herself. (That’s right. Timing two different meals to be ready at once is not my strong suit.) And I don’t need something less than healthy no matter how much I want it.

After one particularly frustrating drive-thru run lunch, I decided to list out all the possible easy, healthy midday meal ideas I could think of. I came up with several ideas, and this is what I’ve been working from lately.

Top 10 {Healthy, Easy} Lunch Ideas

1. Grilled chicken salad
2. Bean burrito
3. Canned soup
4. Homemade soup
5. Chili
6. Chicken strips and fruit
7. Mac & cheese (because yes, I like it, too)
8. Turkey sandwich and fruit
9. Leftovers
10. Frozen meal

Most of these ideas require some advance prep: grilling chicken, making soup/chili, bringing home Chick-fil-A sauce packets, saving leftovers from Mark’s lunch box. Frozen meals, though? No prep necessary.

I’ve tried a couple Healthy Choice meals this fall, and all of a sudden, I remembered why I ate so many frozen meals when I worked in an office. They’re fast, easy and usually pretty tasty. And – especially helpful for me – portion controlled.

Much as I’ve loved frozen meals in the past, though, I’ve leaned toward meatless meals because really? Frozen meal meat seems a bit . . . mysterious. Healthy Choice – partnered with Top Chef – has figured out a way to solve that problem, however. The chicken in Healthy Choice Cafe Steamers Grilled Chicken Pesto with Vegetables? It was real chicken.

I don’t watch Top Chef, but it seems to me that this is a good influence on my lunch options. The Healthy Choice Top Chef Inspired Café Steamers feature bold, modern and exciting flavors (as opposed to other frozen meals that might possibly start to all taste the same). This line of dishes features quality ingredients such as slow roasted garlic, asparagus and grilled eggplant, and while I didn’t love the eggplant in the Grilled Vegetables Mediterranean with Rice, I appreciate the variety (and let’s be honest – I always appreciate garlic).

The trick to this line of Healthy Choice meals seems to be the unique steaming technology that separates the sauce from the rest of the entrée to steam the meal in the microwave, allowing for crisp vegetables, tender meats and al dente pastas. And, for this very lazy girl, not having to cut holes in my frozen meal package, heat in the microwave for a few minutes, uncover, stir and nuke for a minute more is nice. Seriously, the steamer technology means two steps: nuke and mix.

So, for now, my lunch dilemma has been solved. Frozen meals are a great option, whether in the office or at home (duh! Why did I forget that?). Now, onto the next stay-at-home mom challenge: figuring out how to stop the laundry from multiplying. Seriously.

What do you eat for lunch? Are you a fan of leftovers? Frozen meals like Healthy Choice Cafe Steamers? A four-course meal?

I received two Healthy Choice meals and will be compensated for this post. All opinions and ridiculous lunch struggles are, of course, my own.

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