If you’re like me, making lunches in the morning does not represent the height of your culinary creativity. I have been known to let out a pitiful sigh while staring uninspired into the fridge, only to end up grabbing the same few items: fruit, deli meat, cheese. And then, of course, there’s the inevitable mining of the veggie drawer for items my child will actually eat. This time of year, we can really get into autopilot mode, packing the same old lunch every day. So today, we want to pick your brains for ways to pack delicious lunches (for kids or grown-ups!) while keeping the morning sane in the process. So tell us:
What are your tips for packing healthy and interesting lunches?
I’m short on lunch ideas these days, but I do have one simple one that’s tried and true. Veggies and dip! It always feels like a bit of a defeat to open the lunch box at the end of the day and find containers still full of food. Often it’s the vegetables that get left behind, so one of my reliable solutions has been to pack dressing or dip with the vegetables. I have a child who loves foods he can dip, so this encourages him to eat up the healthy stuff, too. I like to use homemade salad dressing I made for dinner the night before, or just hummus, guacamole or yogurt dip, like tzatziki.
Erika has a good system. She says: “I like packing pasta or grain salads because I can easily make them the night before and store them in the refrigerator already packed in a lunch container. Then I can just quickly heat it up in the morning as I make coffee or steep tea. I sometimes make big batch of the pasta or grain base and the protein so I can whip up different versions, like Italian, Greek, Mexican, or Asian.”
Nanci always has whole wheat tortillas handy to throw whatever leftovers from weeknight dinners into a super quick wrap (brisket, fajitas, lunch meat, Philly cheese steak, chicken Caesar salad, pinto beans, etc.). She also has a yogurt maker and makes yogurt each week. So a cup of homemade Greek yogurt with some jam in it is always on her lunch menu. Other than that, she makes big batches of whatever she makes for dinner and typically throws a small container or two of the leftovers into the freezer for a super quick toss into a lunch bag.
Now for your tips! Tell us about your favorite items to pack and/or your brilliant lunch-planning tricks below. We’re ready for our brown bag attitude adjustment!