Weight Watcher's Free(ish) Lunch

Save your Points for an after dinner treat.

WeightWatchersNearlyFreeLunchCredit: Ben NelsonAre you a Weight Watcher, looking to save your points for the evening? I have found that if I can eat a reasonably normal dinner, I stick to my point plus targets with much greater success. Life is really good if I have a few points left for a little ice cream or ice pop after dinner.

I have found a way to keep hunger at bay and still have plenty of points left for my evening.

I don’t like skipping breakfast since that leaves me ravenous by lunchtime.

Instead, I have targeted my lunch for a makeover. Rather than going out with the boys for pizza or a sandwich that will cost me 15 points plus (not to mention 8 bucks - sheesh) or doing salads from popular chain restaurants, which are mostly good for more than 10 points plus, I have come up with this beauty.

This is a great strategy for late summer while there are loads of fresh veggies available.

The Details:

I take one large ripe (but not mushy) tomato and cut it into quarter or half-inch cubes. I do this in the morning and toss it in a 1-pint soup container to take to work for lunch.

I chop some onion and toss that on top.

To this I add whatever veggies I have in the fridge. Perhaps some green beans, or zucchini, or maybe some cucumber. I love adding a bit of celery when I have it, for the crunch.,

At this point my lunch costs me ZERO points plus!

Next I will take about a tablespoon or two (Hey – I admit it – I am a guy and rarely measure ingredients) of balsamic vinegar. I will also confess that for this I do not spend big money on expensive vinegar. I get the store brand, and keep it on the cheap.

That brings our point count up to – you guessed it ZERO points plus.

The only thing I will add that costs me any points at all is a little light feta cheese which gives me just enough non-veggie yum to satisfy.

I season with salt and pepper, and I like to add a pinch of celery seed or if you have it, some fresh basil really is a great addition.

I use this tomato base, and change the seasoning on various days to achieve a little variety.

For example, some times I go Mexican, and use chili powder, cumin and cilantro, while other days I am feeling more Italian, and will use basil and oregano  with the balsamic.

I have gone Asian a time or two with soy sauce instead of the vinegar, and going with ginger and perhaps some red pepper flakes.

TheWholeTomatoCredit: Ben Nelson

This is my go-to lunch and with the cheese added it totals a satisfying Points Plus value.

Let me tell you, the dish of peaches and ice cream in the evening is so worth it.

Prep tip: How to cube a tomato

Let me show you how I chop the tomato in less than a minute

1) Take the large tomato and cut out the stem.

StemmedTomatoCredit: Ben Nelson

2) Make slices about ¼” apart across the top, but not all the way through to the cutting board.

TomatoFirstCutCredit: Ben Nelson

3) Turn the tomato 90 degrees and repeat.

TomatoSecondCutCredit: Ben Nelson

4) Wrap your hand around the perimeter of the tomato, turn it on its side, and slice through the side.

TomatoCrossCutCredit: Ben Nelson

5) This will leave only the bottom of the tomato uncut, which you can slice into the same size cubes.

TomatoFinalCutCredit: Ben Nelson

Finishing the Salad

Now that you have your base, you can add the other ingredient in any order. I like building the salad in the morning so the vinegar gets some time to breakdown the ingredient and merge flavors a bit, but this can be eaten right away too.

Once they are all in the bowl (or lunch bucket) simply toss and go.

I find this salad satisfies me for hours, and with a piece of fruit mid afternoon, I can keep my points for the evening.

Let me know if you have a favorite free(ish) lunch of your own.