Back to school time is a great chance to think about not only what our children eat when they are away from home at school, but also for the adults in the family who want to brown bag it with healthy options.
We can save money by making our own lunches, save time while enjoying our break instead of standing in line, and stick to a healthier eating plan with lower calories and fat when we can control our selections.
Wouldn’t it be great to have some new ideas for healthy, on-the-go lunches to take to work?
Brown Bag Favorites
Throughout my career, and actually throughout most of my school days, I always brought a lunch from home. As the years went on the items I brought naturally changed but some remain the same to this day!
My personal all-time favorite is that standard PB&J — a peanut butter and jelly sandwich! I took one of these with me every day I when I was in high school. Today, however, I use homemade jams and whole wheat bread in place of white. I have to include fresh fruit as it is easy to pack, refreshing and nutritious.
An apple a day really makes my meal. My favorite apples are still MacIntosh but many others come along too, like Gala, Fuji and Granny Smith. Of course grapes, cherries, oranges especially Clementines, plums, peaches and watermelon are perfect choices for me too! It doesn’t take much effort to portion them out a few days at a time.
Grown Up Lunch Box Ideas
There are many other great lunch choices for adults that can keep you fueled throughout the work day! You should balance your lunches with a serving of protein, whole wheat carbohydrate, two servings of fruit/vegetable and one fat. Shoot for 500 calories for women and 700 calories for men.
- Leftovers! Make a grilled chicken salad: salad mix, grilled chicken, tomatoes, Craisins, croutons, 1 Tbsp. salad dressing, piece of fruit for dessert. You may want to cook extra at night purposely to have leftovers for lunch.
- Roll it up! Use a tortilla and roll up your favorite items such as hummus, turkey slices, tuna and chicken salad, roasted veggies and feta cheese, PB&J, boiled eggs, bean/veggie burger chunks, and avocado slices to top it off! Grapes for dessert and you have a quick and easy pick up meal.
- Greek yogurt and fruit! Add a few whole wheat crackers to add a crunch and we are in business.
- Soup it up! Bring along a bowl of hearty soup in a thermos. Some protein packed favorites are lentil soup, turkey vegetable, minestrone or black bean. Watch out chicken noodle! You can make a pot of soup on the weekend and portion it up for weekday meals.
- Keep it familiar! You can also stick with the tried and true such as sandwiches, healthy frozen meals, or pick-ups like cheese/crackers/nuts/fruit cups. These are especially good when you are rushed for time.
Food Safety Important with Lunches, Too!
Be sure that your lunch box is insulated with a cooling source such as ice packs or you have a refrigerator available to store your food. There are some great new lunch box products out there that are not just for kids. Have you seen bento boxes (affiliate link)? They are eco-friendly, reusable, and dishwasher safe. They are stylish and will help you have a balanced meal with containers suited to the foods you bring.
Don’t forget to wash your lunch box inside and out, no matter what version you use. (I do a pretty good job taking care of the inside but have to work at remembering to wash the outside!)
When you pack your lunch, you will be less likely to skip it due to the lack of time. It is amazing how many of us skip lunch so we can do our errands. Sometimes we just feel that our workload is so heavy that we can’t spare the time to stop to find lunch somewhere.
What good for you foods do you love to have in your lunch box? I would love to hear your favorites!