Packing a lunch is like eating blue cheese.
You either love it or you hate it. I mean no one feels indifferent about a sprinkling of blue cheese on their salad, amiright?
I personally think blue cheese is miz and I adore packing my lunch. Whether you loathe it or love it, there’s no doubt that packing your own lunch is good for your wallet and even better for your health. You’re in control of exactly how much added sugar, salt, and fat it has, and you don’t have to wonder what kind of funky chemical additives and preservatives are keeping your Subway salad “fresh.” I don’t like to have to wonder what’s in my food. No thank yewww!
I wrote a post a while back called Life Lessons: On Packing a Lunch where I chatted your ear off about how to pack a balanced lunch, complete with recipes and sides. Make sure to check out that post for more detailed info on how to pack a balanced lunch nutritionally speaking. Now if you know me at all, you know that me and my totally rad bright blue Trader Joe’s lunchbox are best pals. Since school is starting back up for all the kiddos, I thought this would be the perfect time to share some lunchspiration with you all.
Packing lunches isn’t just for the tots! But telling you that you should pack a healthy lunch is one thing and showing you what to pack is another. I personally like to utilize leftover mixed dishes as the main part of my lunch since I’m not really into sandwiches. If you have leftovers in the fridge, it will always be easy to pack a healthy lunch. I promise. Fail to prepare and prepare to fail, my fabulous friends! Taking one day over the weekend to cook a couple dishes, chop veggies, cook grains, hard-boil eggs, make a batch of muffins, etc. will save you TONS of time in getting meals together during the busy week.
Now let’s chat lunchbox essentials. First, you need a lunchbox. Mine is from TJ’s but you can really get one wherever, like Target or Old Navy. Pick a sassy cute one, please.
Next, you need Tupperware. I freaking love Tupperware. Like bring on the Tupperware parties puh-leeease. I use predominantly glass Tupperware. Why, you ask? Because I really don’t like microwaving and dishwashing plastic since the heat causes chemicals to leach into your food. Ick. I love using these round Pyrex ones from Target or Amazon. The bigger square ones are perfect for big batches of leftovers to keep in the fridge. Plastic containers are ok for food that will stay cold and won’t need to be heated, like nuts, muffins, sliced fruit, veggies, etc. Make sure to get some smaller Tupperware too for items like the ones I just listed so you don’t waste plastic baggies every day. We’re trying to go green, here.
Next up is a thermos. I used this thermos pretty much every day last year when I was a nutrition coach at OSU’s student wellness center. SO worth the money. I would heat up my leftovers (soup, chili, stir fry, etc.) in a bowl in the morning until they were super hot, dump it in the thermos, screw on the lid super tight, and enjoy a hot meal sans the microwave four hours later. How fab is that?! It looks like it’s for kids but it’s really the perfect size. I’m also a huge fan of this beverage thermos. I use it for coffee and tea mostly, but I’ve even used it to keep smoothies cold in the past. It never leaks and it’s totally awesome.
Now that you’re rocking your groovy lunchbox, glass Tupperware, and thermos, you’re ready to be a lunch-packing superstaaaaaaa! Without further adieu, here are five tasty ideas to get you started on the path toward delish and nutrish lunches.
1. Super Easy Mexican Crockpot Casserole + carrots + muffin
Throw everything in the crockpot and call it a day! Pack a fourth of the recipe in your lunchbox along with 15 baby carrots and a zucchini banana muffin (or healthy, low-sugar muffin of choice). Bonus–if you pack it in your thermos, it’ll already be warm at lunchtime!
2. Beet, Green Bean & Canelini Salad with Dijon Dressing + apple + hard-boiled egg
This salad is awesome for lunches because the flavors just get better over time. Pack a fourth to a third of the recipe along with a sliced apple sprinkled with cinnamon and a hard-boiled egg. If you’re not feeling the egg, try 15 almonds.
3. Avocado Bean Burger + peppers with hummus + no-bake bites
Make a batch of these delish burgers over the weekend to have for lunches throughout the week. Put some baby spinach in the bottom of a Tupperware and place the burger on top—they’re pretty good cold! Then package up 1/4 cup of hummus, a sliced bell pepper, and a two Mexican hot chocolate bites.
4. Hearty Lentil, Kale and Potato Soup + pear + pistachios
This is one of my favorite lunches because this soups gets even better over time. Heat up a bowl of the soup until it’s screaming hot before putting it in your thermos. Then pack a pear (or fruit of choice) and 1/4 cup pistachios (or nut of choice).
5. Avocado Chickpea Egg Salad lettuce wraps + grapes + muffin
Place a fourth to a third of the egg salad recipe in romaine lettuce leaves. You could also just eat the egg salad by itself if you’d like. Then pack a cup of grapes and a blueberry hemp muffin (or healthy, low-sugar muffin of choice).
Tell me tell me—what’re some of your lunchbox faves?