Healthy Eating Healthy Habits

First World Problems: What Should I Eat For Dinner?

Today has been a busy and productive day!  I had class in the afternoon and evening, and it felt great to be back at school.  I saw several friends from last semester, and a couple of my favorite people are in my afternoon class.  The Suit (who doesn’t wear suits to class, for the record)  is in both of my classes which is fantastic because we can lean on each other if we need to and because I just like being around him.

My only complaint  today is that I failed to figure out a plan for dinner.  I have about half an hour between classes which means I can’t leave campus.  I brought my lunch today just as I did last semester (salad, lean protein and a snack) which worked out well, but dinner was a different story.

I travel frequently, and I’ve gotten pretty good at navigating food courts inside airport terminals.  (Terminal 5 at JFK is the best!)  I’ve also conquered lunch and water consumption so dinner can’t be that hard, or can it?

I eat several times a day so not eating dinner is not an option.  I tried that tonight and found myself stressing over what I’d eat and when.  I even managed to talk myself out of buying a Snickers at the vending machine, but it was a close call.  😉

It’s simple… If I skip dinner, I run the risk of overeating and/or making poor choices later.  I know myself, and I know my body.  I also know that I need to come up with a plan before class Wednesday.

If I eat a big salad filled with greens and protein around 2pm, I’m fine for a few hours, but I really don’t know what I should eat at 5:30 pm.  I prefer to eat much later than that, but eating right after class isn’t realistic either since I don’t exactly live next door to campus.

I have access to a microwave, but I don’t have access to a freezer so a frozen meal won’t work (which is fine since most of them are gross and loaded with sodium anyway.)  Instead, I just need to come up with something healthy and satisfying that won’t spoil over the course of the afternoon.

How do you stay on track when you’re away from home all day?  Am I the only one who struggles with planning two brown bag meals a day?

I’m quite sure that some of you will have excellent suggestions for me, and I look forward to hearing them.

Until then, I’m going to sleep because I plan to hit the gym hard tomorrow!  Have a happy Tuesday, Friends…..


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  • Reply
    May 22, 2012 at 2:01 am

    LOL Usually I eat around 11am to 1pm, and then again at 5pm. If I work out, I have a post workout snack somewhere in there, but that’s really it. Today, if you read my post, was not a good example for how to eat. A yogurt, a granola bar…. and nothing else until dinner. I just didn’t feel hungry which I may regret tomorrow morning.

  • Reply
    May 22, 2012 at 6:15 am

    I often have the same challenge–but am not in school anymore (alas I’m old) so I bring canned tuna in water with me all the time (of course I carry the can-opener too) there are those packets of tuna which are also very convenient. The food plan I’m following doesn’t allow for baked potatoes yet–but they can be microwaved pretty quickly. I always travel with almonds which carry me over when I’ve mistakenly forgotten to plan my day.

    • Reply
      May 22, 2012 at 9:45 am

      I despise tuna, but you’re definitely on to something. I ate half of a 70-calorie packet of salmon yesterday. Adding a baked potato and veggies would be healthy and satisfying. Thank you!

      • Reply
        May 22, 2012 at 4:52 pm

        Trader Joe’s has really delicious canned salmon that you don’t need a can opener to open! Super convenient, healthy and delicious if you like salmon!

  • Reply
    May 22, 2012 at 7:20 am

    Not sure what time you get out of class, but maybe you could pack some fruit or celery and carrots sticks with hummus or something so you’re not completey starving by the time you get home and make dinner? That’s what I do. If I know it’s going to be a while before I can eat again I’ll pack 10 baby carrots, 1/2 serving of pita chips, and a WW string cheese.

    • Reply
      May 22, 2012 at 9:43 am

      I like the carrots, pita and hummus idea! It’s a great start, and I’ll do it tomorrow.

      I won’t be home until 10:30 or later so I still need to come up with a plan to eat before that. I love the hummus idea though! I’ll definitely do it.

  • Reply
    Frank OHara
    May 22, 2012 at 9:33 am

    I always eat a little protein with my meals. Salads will leave you hungry again in just a few hours. Protein comes in meats.

    But there is another source of protein, peanuts. If I become hungry early, I’ll just eat a pack of peanuts and I’m good to go for a few more hours.


    • Reply
      May 22, 2012 at 9:47 am

      I eat protein with my salad, but it’s still not enough to satisfy for the 10 hours that I’m not at home.

      I’ve gotten a couple of good ideas today so tomorrow will be better . =)

  • Reply
    May 22, 2012 at 9:52 am

    Make enough for leftovers and nuke them at school. Maybe store them in a stainless thermos or thermal bag with an ice pack?

  • Reply
    May 22, 2012 at 10:10 am

    As a law student I’m gone from my home for 12 to 13 hours a day, I bring breakfast, lunch, and dinner with me most of the time. For dinner I often brought leftovers from the night before and just reheated it in the microwave. I often make enough food to last a few days as well as giant pots of soup that can easily be divided into individual servings and reheated.

  • Reply
    May 22, 2012 at 10:45 am

    As a former student who was on campus all day, and as the wife of someone who is still in school and needs to pack a lunch and a dinner with limited heating/cooling options, I find that vegetarian meals are the perfect answer, as they hold well at room temp and you don’t have to worry about spoilage. Afew ideas:

    Brown rice and lentil salad (brown rice, lentil of your choice, walnuts, cranberries, vinaigrette)

    Hummus and veggie wrap

    Tofu stir fry (if you can get to a mocrowave)

    Quinoa pilaf

    Lots of lean protein, filling, fill with all the veg you want!

  • Reply
    May 22, 2012 at 11:03 am

    i’m really bad about skipping meals

  • Reply
    May 22, 2012 at 11:07 am

    I was in class lastnight and I saw you walk past my classroom and I almost got up and introduced myself and said hi but the shy dork in me decided to stay seated.

    I’m a student at the same school and I have a full-time summer load, 5 classes, and then I’ll be a graduate. Lastnight I was in Interviewing & Investigating in classroom C.

    I bring breakfast, lunch, and dinner to work with me so that I have a plan. The Cane’s, Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Taco Bell/Pizza Hut are just too close to campus for comfort. That vending machine almost got me too but I opted for a bottled water and a oat/honey granola bar. But I won’t lie, the vanilla cream filled cookies were looking good.

    Good luck this semester!

    • Reply
      May 23, 2012 at 12:51 am

      Oh wow Shannon! Next time tell the “shy dork” inside you (hey, it’s inside all of us, isn’t it?) to shut it and come say hi! I have a few awesome friends at school, but I love making new friends…Seriously, don’t be shy…=)

      And tomorrow, I’ll have tons of healthy food options, and I’m happy to share with you!

      Good luck to you too! =)

  • Reply
    May 22, 2012 at 11:24 am

    Like you, I am on the go all day. On Thursdays I teach a night class at 7.30 pm and it takes a lot of energy to avoid the grease-fest that is the college cafe. Also I have no fridge or microwave. Sometimes it makes me quite angry that I have to put a lot of effort into organizing my food on Thursday! My solution has been to buy myself a large but stylish cool bag which has greatly expanded my options. I usually take a sandwich or salad for lunch and I have started making my own version of a “Lunchable” for dinner with some low fat cheese, turkey, reduced fat wheat thins and I pack a lot of fruit. I also eat 1-2 of the healthier granola type bars during the day. However, even with all these good intentions, I usually end up eating something when I get home at 10pm anyway but at least it is a healthier “at home” item rather than a fast food blow out on the way.

    • Reply
      May 23, 2012 at 12:53 am

      Yeah, I understand what you mean. I got in at 10:30 Monday night, and I had to eat something. I made pretty good choices too, but 10:30 is too late to eat (even for the night owl in me.)

  • Reply
    May 22, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    Since you have access to a microwave, how about a jacket potato with low fat cheese or baked beans with low sugar? It will take you through the night. It is very tempting to go for other things if you carry too much food already!

    • Reply
      May 23, 2012 at 12:53 am

      I like the potato idea, but what’s a jacket potato? I feel like I should already know this!

      • Reply
        May 26, 2012 at 12:34 am

        It’s just a baked potato.

  • Reply
    May 22, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    I am a student as well and pack all of my meals. Lately, with the weather being nice, I have been on a grilling spree. My favorite dinner to take is left over is Shish Kebabs. On Sunday I make a ton of Kebabs with peppers, onions, zucchini, mushrooms, grape tomatoes, and meat (chicken or steak). I use a different marinade for the meat each time so I don’t get bored. Last weeks was fajita seasoning and this week is teriyaki. They are delicious hot or cold! Plus I get a ton of veggies. I usually pair it with a cold quinoa salad as well.

    • Reply
      May 23, 2012 at 12:54 am

      My goal for the weekend just became kebabs! Stellar idea!

  • Reply
    May 22, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    In the past when I’ve been in this situation, I would have a Luna Bar (or, uh, two) to tide me over until I got home to make a simple dinner.

    • Reply
      May 23, 2012 at 12:56 am

      It’s too late to eat dinner at that hour, but bars are always near me. I’m a big fan of the pecan pie lara bar. Yum!

  • Reply
    May 22, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    I’ve never commented before, but i’ve been reading your blog for several months. I recently discovered meals that you can get in the Hyvee (not sure if you have that store nearby) healthfood section. I can’t remember what they are called. They range in calories fro 290-500 and have several different types that are delicious. They don’t have to be refrigerated. They all have some type of protein, fruit and typically a small little dessert. They come in a small little box and have been perfect for lunches for me.

    • Reply
      May 23, 2012 at 12:57 am

      I don’t think there’s a Hyvee in my area, but that sounds awesome!

  • Reply
    Becky Martinez
    May 22, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    How about fruit, string cheese, a packet of oatmeal that you could cook in the microwave, microwave popcorn, cooked chicken, bagel thins with spinach, tomato, ham, and or whipped cream cheese, or precooked chicken to be eaten cold or hot. My daughter just finished track and field and we had day long meets every Saturday for the past few months. After the first few meets I finally figured how to pack our snacks and meals for the day. I bought a large insulated bag from Sam’s Club and used storage containers that have gel lids that can be frozen and then snapped right on top.

  • Reply
    Carol B
    May 22, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    How about one of the nut butters that come in the individual packets? Those are always good with some high fiber bread or even an apple!

    • Reply
      May 23, 2012 at 12:57 am

      I bring 1 tbsp packets of peanut butter with me almost everywhere I go. Great idea!

  • Reply
    May 22, 2012 at 9:08 pm

    I usually take hummus, a few olives (for the fat content), a raw tomato, a pita bread (high protein) and a cup of grapes. This usually tides me over!

  • Reply
    May 23, 2012 at 9:23 am

    I always did a bento box for dinner when I was in school. Go online for some great Bento idea’s.

  • Reply
    April 19, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    I found this page trying to decide what to make for dinner, and ended up reading a bunch of your posts before coming back here! It reminded me of my university life, with evening classes. What I did was basically make a “double lunch” – two sandwiches, two pieces of fruit, a couple granola bars, cheese and crackers, and often a packet of oatmeal. Not the most satisfying, but it got me through the day.

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