There are many things I enjoy about back-to-school, the most being that routine is finally restored in our family. What I don’t typically enjoy, however, is making lunches for school. In the summer, the midday meal was fresh and easy. It definitely takes an effort to make brown bag lunches the same. (I am really writing this post for my own benefit.) Here are some tips to make brown bag lunches easier, tastier, and more nutritious:
- Plan ahead. When this happens, decisions about what to make doesn’t need to be made during an already hectic morning schedule.
- Stock staples. This tracks with planning ahead by shopping for necessary ingredients and having them available. Another great way to decrease the morning stress levels!
- Vary ingredients. Whole grains can be enjoyed as crackers, pitas, rice, tortillas, and flat bread. Color and nutrition can be added with different fruits (peaches, cherries, apples, pears, clementines) and veggies (mini carrots, cucumber slices, sugar snap peas, bell pepper slices, cherry tomatoes).
- Boost the flavor. Try pesto or a light ranch dressing instead of mayo on a sandwich or wrap. Use sharp cheeses like cheddar, swiss, feta, and asiago to enhance a typical sandwich with taste and nutrition.
- Follow the basic USDA Myplate meal. Include a lean protein, whole grain, fruit, vegetable and dairy serving.
Taking my own advice, I’ve planned our brown bag lunch menu for next week:
- Lean roast beef on a whole grain tortilla with shredded cheddar, lettuce and salsa (packed separately) for a portable taco
- Hummus, feta cheese, shredded carrots in a whole grain pita pocket
- Toasted whole grain english muffin halves with pizza sauce, red bell pepper, spinach and mozzarella cheese
- Nut butter (almond or peanut butter) on a whole grain bagel with banana and milk
- Whole grain wrap with chicken breast slices (using pre-cooked Perdue’s Short Cuts), light Ranch dressing, thinly sliced cucumbers and shredded swiss cheese.
More lunch ideas from previous posts are found at Help for Brown Bag Blues and 5 Days of Brown Bag Lunches. And I’d love to hear from you! Please share a comment about your favorite lunches and tips that work!