Tired of plain-old peanut butter and jelly? Enjoy your packed lunches again with these suggestions.
You know the many health and money-saving benefits of eating a packed lunch, but you also know they can get old after a while when you eat the same thing day after day. In the morning rush before work or school it can be easiest to just pack what’s familiar. Are you stuck in a rut of PB&J, a ham-and-cheese sandwich, or a frozen dinner tray with snacks and maybe a piece of fruit thrown in?
If you and your kids are getting tired of packed lunches, maybe it’s time to change things up a little. Here are a few simple, yummy, and healthy packed lunch ideas to get you started.
Forget the peanut butter and try something new. In the evening, spend a few minutes putting together a sandwich filling such as tuna salad, chicken salad, or egg salad. All great sources of protein, these ingredients can be mixed with low-fat mayonnaise or mashed avocado and a few spices. Store the salad in the refrigerator overnight for a quick way to make a yummy sandwich the next morning.
No more bologna and American cheese. Why not try different types of deli meat and cheese? Roasted turkey, pastrami, or roast beef paired with a slice of provolone, cheddar, or Colby Jack cheese on whole-grain bread is a great way to mix things up. Don’t forget the lettuce, tomato, and pickle.
Trying to cut back on carbs? Get creative with a whole-grain tortilla instead of bread. What about peanut butter, a drizzle of honey, banana slices, and bacon? Maybe you’d prefer a light Caesar salad with grilled chicken or deli turkey with leaf spinach, hummus, and goat cheese. Other yummy options are a black bean, avocado, and red onion wrap dipped in salsa or a wrap made with canned salmon, Parmesan cheese, and light Caesar dressing.
There aren’t many lunches easier than packing up leftovers from your dinner the night before. As you prepare your dinners, plan to make extra for the following day. When dinner is over, simply divide the leftovers into single-serving portable containers to be warmed in the microwave when lunchtime rolls around. Soups, casseroles, and pastas all make great leftovers for lunch.
You’ve got your sandwich, wrap, or leftovers so what should you eat on the side? Fruits and vegetables are your healthiest bet, so make them your go-to side dish. Keep a variety of fresh produce on hand to make packing lunches quick and easy. Pack a banana, apple slices, or grapes. Bring along celery or carrot sticks dipped in hummus. Cucumber slices, grape tomatoes, pepper slices, strawberries, or blueberries make great sides as well.
Anyone wanting to eat healthy and lose weight would do well to include a few low-calorie snacks as part of their everyday diet. Rather than the typical bag of chips or cookies, think of foods that are high in protein and fiber to fill you up and give you lasting energy. A few ideas include a hard-boiled egg, nuts mixed with dried fruit, whole-grain crackers and hummus, a cheese stick, a cup of Greek yogurt, popcorn, or fresh fruits and veggies.