Healthy food at work!

Three lunch containers with Shepherd's Pie, a salad and pureed tomato soup with baguette crackers.

It’s so hard to eat well at work sometimes. The cafeteria and fast food options are always the quickest and easiest, it seems, so sometimes it’s easy to forget about having a good, balanced meal at work. But a little bit of planning on the weekend might help through the week, if you’re lucky! See the image above? This was my lunch at work today. In fact, I’m just finishing up the soup now. (Sorry that the image is a bit blurry but by the time I realized, most of the food had already been devoured!)

Make-ahead meals are not only better on your pocketbook, but also on your morning prep and your waistline. I sometimes find it hard to plan my day’s meals nutrition-wise if I know I’m going to grab “something” at the cafeteria later because I didn’t have the foresight or time to pack something before work.

Today’s lunch consisted of things I prepared this weekend. Let’s take a look at each one and how easy it was to make each one…

Shepherd’s Pie w/Garlic Parmesan Cauliflower-Potato Mash

I love Shepherd’s Pie and admittedly, I had been avoiding it due to it being so carb-heavy. It’s a hearty meal but not known to be the healthiest. But there are things that can be done to make it healthier. Realizing that sweet potato mash was only going to work as a substitute for mashed potatoes occasionally for me (as I’m not a huge fan), I decided to mix russet potatoes with cauliflower for the topping. And the meat mixture is made with extra lean ground beef (you could use chicken), a low-sodium version of the gravy mix I use (Club House turkey) and a goodly helping of frozen veggies mixed in with the beef as well as sliced button mushrooms, just to beef up the nutritional value. Here’s roughly what I did:


  • 4 large russet potatoes, cubed
  • 1 large cauliflower florets
  • 4 tsp minced garlic, split into two 2-tsp portions
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth, split into two 1-cup portions (Imagine Organic is the brand I use)
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup light parmesan cheese
  • 2 lbs extra lean ground beef
  • 1 pint button mushrooms, washed and sliced
  • 1-2 cups of mixed frozen veggies (I used closer to 2 cups)
  • 1 packet Club House turkey gravy mix (25% less salt)
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp Mrs Dash Table Blend seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp dried rosemary, ground up a bit with a mortar and pestle (or just rub it a bit between your hands)


  1. In a large dutch oven pot, boil the potatoes and cauliflower until tender (about 10 minutes).
  2. Drain and return to the pot. Add the first cup of chicken stock, the butter, 2 tsp of minced garlic and the parmesan cheese.
  3. Mash well with a potato masher. Use an immersion blender if you want to make it smoother. Set aside.
  4. Preheat oven to 375F.
  5. In a pan or wok, brown the ground beef with the mushrooms and garlic, using a little bit of the first cup of chicken stock to keep the meat from going dry/burning.
  6. Once the meat is browned, add the frozen veggies, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, Mrs. Dash, rosemary and the rest of the second cup of chicken stock, cooking for a few minutes until the vegetables are warmed through.
  7. Add the gravy mix and stir to combine. Remove from heat and pour into the bottom of a large casserole dish. Pour this into the bottom of the baking dish.
  8. Spread the cauliflower/potato mixture over top of the meat to cover it completely. Rough up the top of the mash with a fork so you have some ‘peaks’ in it — these will brown up nicely in the oven.
  9. Bake uncovered for approximately 45 minutes or until the top has started to turn golden brown and those mashed peaks look crispy.

This should make about 12 portions.

Nutritional value per portion: 228 calories, 20g carbs, 7g fat, 17g protein, 186mg sodium, 3g sugars

(Don’t base your portion size based on my portion in the photo at the top of this article. I made my layers much smaller and spread the entire thing over two casserole dishes, so the portions seem wider in size than the version that all goes into one dish. My bakeware is not particularly deep, so I was trying to avoid over-flow.)

The Salad

The salad in the picture is pretty simple:

  • a large handful (about 1.5-2 cups) shredded Romaine lettuce
  • 1 Tbsp lightly salted tortilla strips
  • 1 Tbsp honey roasted almond slices
  • 1/2 small box of Sunmaid raisins
  • 1.5 Tbsp Renee’s creamy asiago dressing

That’s it. The nutritional values, for the curious: 165 calories, 15g carbs, 11g fat, 3g protein, 214mg sodium, 6g sugars

Want the salad numbers to be lower? No problem. Cut out the raisins to lower the carbs and sugars or change to a low-fat/light dressing of some sort instead of something creamy.

My next post will cover the soup which was a Pureed Tomato-Veggie Curried Soup.

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