Always on-the-go? Lacking culinary inspiration? Did you forget to fire up the crock-pot before you rushed out the door this morning?
I hear ya! We’ve all been there. Some nights a home-cooked meal just isn’t in the cards and that’s O.K.! I find myself in this situation more often than not. But, of course, the next obstacle becomes finding a healthy quick, meal that doesn’t break the bank and leaves you with more options than a soggy Cobb salad.
Here are 2 of my favorite go-to spots that you may find in your area as well:
1. Le Pain Quotidien – translation: “The Daily Bread.” Founded in Brussels in 1990 and now an international chain around the world.
J’adore Le Pain Quotidien! (Sorry, I couldn't resist). With restaurants in New York, Los Angles, Connecticut, Philadelphia and throughout the Washington DC area, Le Pain’s deliciousness is quickly spreading across the states. All their food is top notch, made with fresh, organic ingredients. The vibe is very European and upon your first visit you’ll feel like you just stepped into a Belgian bakery. They even have adorable signage (like the one in the photo above) reassuring patrons, “Don’t Panic, It’s Organic.” Love it! But honestly, I’ve never had a bad meal at Le Pain and, unfortunately, I think their casual dining experience is often overlooked as just another brunch spot to grab overpriced eggs and coffee. The reality is all their bread is baked fresh daily; they switch up the menu often to offer lots of yummy seasonal options; the portions are wholesome and plenty; they serve lattes in small, cozy bowels which they refer to as “Belgian hand warmers;” selections of wine and beer are available and they even have avocado toast on the menu! Need I say more?
Lately, my favorite meal is the quinoa cake. Perfect for lunch or dinner. Sound weird? Totally. Does it taste delicious and hit the spot when I’m working late and my frig is running on empty? Absolutely. Dine in or takeout, but don’t take my word for it, get your own daily bread (no reservations required).
2. Whole Foods - No introduction required.
Ok, I might have a slight obsession with Whole Foods and for so many reasons but, for purposes of this post, I’m only going to talk about one specific gem (more gems to come): their prepared food section. But I’m not even talking about the hot bar or their dangerously pricey salad bar; I’m talking about “behind the glass.” Over by the deli meats and pizza, you can find freshly prepared lunch and dinner options aplenty. I'm talking about the Whole Foods Value Meals. Build yourself a platter of pasta, chicken/beef or fish and two vegetarian sides for a fraction of the cost that you would pay at any restaurant (prices range from $6 - $10 based on which main entree you choose). The selections change daily and they don’t skimp on quality. Your dinner will be both tasty and satisfying. I eat these meals at least once a week and on particularly busy (lazy) weeks more times than I care to share (once a day?).
So there you have it! Two of my favorite spots to grab a healthy meal quickly that don’t require reservations or a drive-thru window. Have a favorite spot of your own? Share in the comments below. Let’s arm ourselves with lots options so when daily grind prevents us from getting in the kitchen, it doesn't also prevent us from eating nutritious food.