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Before getting down to business (talking about the meals), allow me mention that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. As a full time University student, full time young professional and part time entrepreneur (just a few years ago) – I clearly did not understand this concept.

Here is how it goes, let me use the example of water and that old-somewhat-annoying-adage about drinking lots of water, your body needs water to function, what if you don’t drink enough water? Your body stores water and doesn’t process it, as it does not know that it’ll get any water anytime soon. You may also end up putting on some water weight due to your body storing an emergency supply. So drink up.

Okay back to breakfast being important, it is the same thing, if you do not activate your metabolism in the morning, don’t expect your metabolism to work at lunch. What will happen is that your body most likely will be in shock and not understand what to do with the food you’re eating all of a sudden, and store most of it as as a reserve, and barely processes the nutrients. In my experience, if I skip breakfast, I get bloated when I eat lunch due to the shock of the sudden food intake. Also, my body then starts to create “fat stores” to protect itself from starvation as an effect of skipping breakfast, or any meal for that matter.

Some of the below meals take preparation, but you can cook up batches once a week, or choose options that require the least amount of preparation. Go with what suits you best. Of course meal replacement shakes are good too, but only for up to two meals a day.

Here are quick meal ingredients you can combine, cook in a rush, eat cold, hot and take with you on-the-go. I recommend you choose one from each category and combine creatively.

1. Protein:

This list is tailored to those who do not eat meat as well, a lot of the below contains iron, but iron can be found in many other foods and it is important to be conscious of getting enough iron.

• Tofu

• Turkey

• Veal

• Eggs (hard cooked, omelette, scrambled, poached, egg whites etc.)

• Skinless boneless chicken breast (you can also cut up strips or cubes)

• Shrimp

• Fish

• Tenderloin steak / roast beef (you can cut up strips, slice it from a roast or even cube it)

• Pork-loin or pork chops (you can cut up strips or slice it)

• Various beans (black, kidney, white etc)

• Chick peas

• Cold cuts such as chicken, turkey, roast beef, salami (go for the low sodium, low fat kinds)

• Turkey bacon (low fat)

• Cheese (feta, mozzarella, marble, cheddar, swiss etc. the light version of course)

2. Veggies:

You may have as many as you like! I have listed the most common ones.

• Spinach

• Lettuces (mixed greens, romaine)

• Kale (you’ll get used to the bitter taste, they sell sweet versions too if you’re really that intolerant to the bitter taste at first)

• Avocado

• Cucumber

• Broccoli

• Celery

• Corn

• Onion

• Squash

• Cauliflower

• Carrot

• Water chestnut

• Peas

• Cabbage

• Sprouts

• Green beans

• Peppers

• Egg plant

• Leek

• Mushroom

• Zucchini

• Asparagus

3. Good carbs:

• Bread (rye, whole wheat, whole grain – avoid white bread as the flour has been bleached)

• Quinoa

• Brown rice

• Whole wheat pasta

• Whole wheat fresh ravioli (filled with meat or cheess)

• Potato

• Sweet potato

• Tortilla chips (low or no salt)

• Tortilla wraps (whole wheat)

• Pita bread (whole wheat, of course)

* If using canned vegetables, rinse them thoroughly through a strainer in order to get rid of the sugar and preserving agents, and you’re good to go!

* You can always buy frozen veggies to save yourself the prep time.

4. Fun:

Fruit (dry versions or fresh) are fun to add to salads & various dishes:

• Blueberries

• Strawberries

• Raspberries

• Green apples

• Mangos

• Tomatoes

5. Enhance:

For optimal nutrient intake, below are health food staples:

• Flax seeds or flax seed oil

• Hemp heart seeds

• Various nuts (sliced almonds and walnuts are great for salads)

6. Seasonings:

• Lemon juice

• Basil

• Cilantro

• Coriander

• Salt (be moderate though)

• Pepper

• Other spices (Montreal steak spice, Italian herbs, etc.)

• Low fat dressing (i.e. balsamic)

• Olive oil

• Organic pasta sauce (Tomato, Alfredo, Rosé – you can also add a little bit of wine or Vodka to your sauce)

• Low fat B.B.Q sauce

• Soy sauce

• Low fat / low sodium stir fry sauces

• Salsa

Here are possible combinations of above ingredients (I have tested these and they’re my faves):

1. Zesty Quinoa Chicken Salad (cold)

Strips of skillet chicken, tomato, avocado slices, onion and corn served on top of quinoa with lemon juice as seasoning. You can be generous with portions here as this is a very “clean” meal. You can place this meal in a to-go container and bring with you.

2. Hot, cold or pressed in a panini press if you have one

Steak strips (cook ahead if you can), cheddar or Mozza cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion in a tortilla or pita wrap. This also something you can carry in a Ziploc bag and bring in your bag/purse.

Of course eating well doesn’t have to cost you a fortune, you can shop with a list and do so once a week.  You may soon realize that this is cheaper than purchasing pre-packaged frozen dinners. The most important aspect to note is that you will probably feel your energy levels rise as you nourish your body with better foods. You may also be able re-balance your budget, so to make room for affording healthier foods and organic versions.

Karisa Karmali is a Young Entrepreneur based in Ottawa, Ontario in Canada. She is a University of Ottawa Graduate, Founder of The Art of Attitude™ and of the Just One Person Scholarship Fundraiser via her book, The Art of Attitude ©. Under The Art of Attitude™ she does promotional modelling, event hosting, and public speaking www.theartofattitude.com.

Image Credit: www.healthy-eatings.com