It doesn’t matter who in your household takes a lunch to work or school with them – there are a lot of great meal ideas you can toss in there.
Of course, what you send off with your family for lunch will also depend on a few things, like where they’ll store their food.
Why You Should “Brown Bag” It
Brown bag lunches allow you a chance to have a healthier lunch than something offered in a school lunch line, a business cafeteria, or in a vending machine.
Of course, if you want to be good to yourself and the Earth, don’t use brown bags. Opt for a lunch box or bag that is reusable and won’t end up in a landfill for a few years.
Most of the time, businesses don’t offer lunch options, so you need to either take something with you to eat or you have to go out for lunch. Going out for lunch five days a week while you’re at work can add up. Not to mention the fact that restaurants generally serve portions that are much larger than one person needs.
Stir-fry meals are an excellent option for people looking for a healthy meal that will fill you up. You can have stir-fry with or without meat. The rice will fill you up, at least for a little while (hopefully long enough to get done with your work day).
You can vary the vegetables you use, including things like water chestnuts. Skip the soy sauce, unless you pick a low sodium version. Too much salt in the diet is never a good thing.
Stir-fry can be good cold, but it would be better if you had the option to heat it up in a microwave.
2. Meat and Cheese Snacks
If you’re a meat eater, take a lunch packed with protein to help you get through the rest of the day. Pair up your cheese and meat with some nuts, whole grain crackers, and some dried fruits. This is a meal that will stay fresh in an insulated lunch box and needs no heating.
Making a salad is a smart and easy lunch idea as it makes for a very healthy lunch (depending on your choice of ingredients.
Fruit is great in salads, along with all your usually veggie options.
Consider nuts and seeds instead of meat. If you must use dressing, go for the light dressing or just use some vinegar and oil. You can add some seasoning for flavor, like garlic powder or some fresh cilantro.
All of the above options make great choices for teens as well. However, if you have a picky eater, you want to skip things like soy sauce, some veggies, and maybe even the water chestnuts. Ask them what they like, and try to make something healthy that caters to their dietary interests.
4. Homemade Hot Pockets
Try making some homemade hot pocket. It’s a nifty way to make an easy snack that can contain some of those veggies your kids aren’t entirely fond of. These might need to stay refrigerated and need to be heated, so make sure your child has access to a fridge and microwave at school before you send them with one.
Little kids don’t need to eat as much as bigger kids, and they have different dietary needs. On the rare occasion you need to packed lunch for your little one, there are still plenty of lunch ideas out there.
5. Fruits and Veggies
If your little one is going to get all the meat and dairy they need for optimal health in another meal, consider a collection of fruits and veggies for their packed lunch. These can stay fresh in an insulated bag for a few hours. Even your pickiest little eater is sure to gobble them up.
6. Homemade Chicken Nuggets
Dice up some fresh chicken and mulch up some corn flakes in your Magic Bullet. Batter the chicken chunks with the ground flakes, after dipping them in some egg to help it stick. Toss them in the fryer for a few minutes, and you have healthy chicken nuggets homemade for your little ones.
You’ll know what’s in these nuggets, so you can feel safe feeding them to your kids. Plus, they’re easy to reheat.
Things to Remember When Using Packed Lunches
Before you send the kids to school with a lunch that needs heating or one that needs refrigeration, make sure they have access to these accommodations.
Schools aren’t like workplaces – they don’t always have a lunchroom with available microwaves and cold storage. This means you need to not only be thinking healthy but also practical.
Feature image via bbcgoodfood.com