Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Brown Bag Lunches

I was talking with a group of friends a few weeks ago about lunch ideas. The conversation centered on bringing lunch to work, but since school starts next week (and some have already started), I thought these ideas may be helpful for moms who are trying to be creative. (Like me!)

I know I’m not alone in joining Jamie Oliver’s “Food Revolution” and refusing to buy school cafeteria food, which is void of almost all nutrition. (Assuming the lunch consisted of more than French fries and a shake in the first place.)

Here are some of the ideas we had:

(Use an insulated lunch bag with a cooler pack when needed.)

Peanut Butter (or almond butter) and Jelly Sandwiches (natural nut butter, all-fruit jam on hearty grain or whole wheat bread)

Hummus or other bean dips with raw veggies: carrots, celery, bell peppers, radishes, etc.

Brown Rice or Quinoa with veggies

Rice and beans, with or without added veggies (carrots, tomatoes, celery, onion, etc – I add chopped veggies to the rice while it’s cooking.) Rice and beans combine to make a perfect protein. (See my Rice and Beans recipe here.)

Leafy dark green salads, with homemade oil and vinegar dressing (equal parts olive oil and red wine vinegar. Like balsamic vinegar? Use 2 parts olive oil to 1 part vinegar.)

Mango-black bean salsa: mango, black beans, cilantro, lime juice, onion, and corn

Leftover sliced chicken on whole grain bread (or as a chicken salad)

Fruit: apples, oranges, peaches, bananas, strawberries, pineapple, etc

Apples sprinkled with cinnamon

Watermelon, jicama, cilantro and lime (with just a dash of sea salt)

Celery sticks with natural peanut butter and raisins

Trail mix: Make your own – almonds, cashews, pecans, walnuts, raisins, dried fruit, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, roasted chick peas (link), flaked coconut, etc; almonds, dried cherries, dark chocolate chips are a great combination for dessert or after school snack!

Nuts: almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews

Hard boiled eggs or egg salad on whole grain bread

Greek yogurt (plain) with fresh fruit and natural granola (need sweetener?  use stevia, raw honey, agave nectar or pure maple syrup) (See my Creamy Peaches recipe here.) 

Leftover salmon with a salad or as a salad

Leftover soup

Guacamole and chips

Wraps: (add a little quinoa or brown rice if desired)

(Pesto is a great flavor on a turkey or chicken sandwich for something different!)

Veggies with hummus

Turkey, avocado, tomato and lettuce

Lettuce with avocado and veggies

Sliced turkey breast (I like Boar's Head brand), mashed avocado, and red onion - roll up and slice like pinwheels

Ezekiel toast with hummus and avocado and maybe some cilantro

Whole wheat pita stuffed with hummus, tomatoes, and sprouts; with celery, carrot sticks, and cucumber slices on the side

Whole wheat bread with hummus or avocado, lettuce, tomato slices, onion, green and red pepper or any other veggie. Fresh fruit on the side for dessert.

Tuna (in the single-serve pouches), great with whole grain crackers, with veggies and fruit on the side

Whole wheat pasta with steamed veggies (Or use brown rice instead of whole wheat pasta.) (Or Be Real…we’re not ready for whole wheat pasta at our house yet. I still like Muller’s.)

Cold pasta salad: 2 oz pasta (uncooked) to 4 oz veggies (our favorite is corkscrew pasta with carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, onion, bell peppers); equal parts olive oil and red wine vinegar (or balsamic) with salt, pepper, garlic, basil and oregano. (You can add diced ham or cheese cubes if you like them, but they are not necessary.)

Boboli pizza crust (the small one can last for 2 meals) with whatever you like on it. Make it the night before and it’s perfect at room temperature for lunch! My son’s favorite is BBQ chicken. My favorite is Pesto Chicken. (It also makes a fabulous supper!)

I’d love to hear your ideas for homemade lunches. Please share!

You may also enjoy:
Review: Crock-pot Lunch Crock
7 Easy Ways to Have Healthy Lunch at Work