Brown bagging it to work is a way to eat healthier versus going out for lunch all the time. When you bring your own lunch, you can control calories and fat and sugar intake. You aren’t tempted by to supersize anything, it’s easier to skip the fries and you can limit portions. Plus, you’ll save money and time. What’s not to love?
Well, sometimes bringing your lunch gets boring. You fall into a rut, keep packing the same items and then hit the vending machine or coffee shop for an afternoon treat. Visiting a restaurant becomes more tempting, and eventually you ditch your lunch bag, telling yourself that you will save it for tomorrow.
The good news: packed lunches don’t HAVE to be ho-hum. You don’t have to make the same turkey sandwich or green salad every day. Sure, it’s easy, but the monotony can be tough over time. With a little creativity, a willingness to try new options and some planning ahead, you can mix it up so that you look forward to your midday meal. Try some of these healthy lunch recipes to bring to work. Your taste buds will thank you!
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 4 oz each)
- 1/3 cup reduced-fat Caesar dressing
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 2 cups coarsely chopped romaine lettuce
- ¼ cup shredded carrot (1 small carrot)
- 2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
- 2 whole wheat pita (pocket) breads (6 inch), cut in half to form pockets
- 1 plum (Roma) tomato, thinly sliced
Set oven control to broil. Brush both sides of chicken with 1 tablespoon of the dressing; sprinkle with pepper.
Place chicken on rack in broiler pan. Broil 4 to 6 inches from heat 12 to 15 minutes, turning once, until juice of chicken is clear when center of thickest part is cut (170°F).
Cool about 5 minutes. Cut into thin slices.
In medium bowl, toss lettuce, carrot and cheese with remaining dressing until coated. Fill each pita bread half with tomato and chicken; top with lettuce mixture.
- 4 cups of your favorite lettuce, washed, dried and roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup corn
- 1/2 cup diced tomatoes
- 1/2 cup black beans
- 1 large avocado, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup diced red onion
- 1 cup cooked chicken, shredded or chopped (for vegetarian version, substitute with extra black, pinto or garbanzo beans)
Place lettuce on bottom of the bowl. Top with the remaining ingredients.
Drizzle 6-8 TB of dressing over salad. Toss and serve immediately.
Recommended Dressing: Homemade Cilantro Lime Ranch Dressing
- ¾ cup light mayo
- ¾ cup Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons lime (juice from)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh chives, roughly chopped
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
Place all ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. Leftovers can be kept in airtight container for up to two weeks in the refrigerator.
Bistro Box (Delish)
- 1/4 c. almonds
- 1/3 c. carrots
- 1 c. grapes
- 1/4 c. pickle chips
- 1 tbsp. mustard
- 1 whole wheat tortilla
- 1 slice ham
- 1 slice cheddar
- 1/2 c. spinach
Place almonds, carrots, grapes and pickle chips in your container.
Spread mustard onto your tortilla. Top with ham, cheese, and spinach. Roll into a pinwheel and slice into rounds. Place in container.
- 4 slice rye bread
- 4 tbsp. cranberry sauce
- 4 oz. sliced turkey
- 2 oz. Brie
- 4 piece crisp bacon
- ½ c. baby spinach
Place rye bread on a broiler-proof baking sheet. Top two slices with cranberry sauce, sliced turkey, and Brie.
Broil until the cheese melts, about one minute. Top the cheese with crisp bacon and baby spinach. Sandwich with the remaining bread slices.
Clean Eating Bento Box Lunch (Eating Well)
- ½ cup snap peas
- ¼ cup blueberries
- ½ medium apple, sliced
- 1-ounce Cheddar cheese, sliced
- 2 tablespoons hummus
- 8 seeded whole-grain crackers
Pack snap peas, blueberries, apple, cheese, hummus and crackers in a divided bento-style lunch box or in separate containers with lids.
To make ahead: Refrigerate for up to one day.
- 1 (7 ounce) jar roasted red peppers, rinsed
- ¼ cup slivered almonds
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 small clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
- 2 cups cooked quinoa
- ¼ cup Kalamata olives, chopped
- ¼ cup finely chopped red onion
- 1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed
- 1 cup diced cucumber
- ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
Place peppers, almonds, 2 tablespoons oil, garlic, paprika, cumin and crushed red pepper (if using) in a mini food processor. Puree until fairly smooth.
Combine quinoa, olives, red onion and the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a medium bowl.
To serve, divide the quinoa mixture among four bowls and top with equal amounts of the chickpeas, cucumber and the red pepper sauce. Sprinkle with feta and parsley.
To make ahead: Prepare red pepper sauce (Step 1) and quinoa (Step 2); refrigerate in separate containers. Assemble just before serving.
- 2 large zucchinis Blade D, noodles trimmed
- 1/4 cup creamy natural peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce, low sodium
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon chili garlic paste, optional
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Scallions, chopped peanuts and black roasted sesame seeds – optional garnish
In a large bowl, whisk together sesame peanut vinaigrette (peanut butter through salt) and check for seasoning; adjust accordingly.
Add zucchini noodles to the bowl and toss well. Check for seasoning and adjust accordingly.
Garnish with scallions, chopped peanuts and black roasted sesame seeds to serve.
- 4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 1 green onion (green section only), thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
- 1/2 tsp curry powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
Place the chopped hard-boiled eggs in a medium-sized bowl. Add the celery, green onion, Greek yogurt, curry powder, salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
Serve on bread, crackers, cucumber slices or celery stalks.
- 1 cup uncooked farro
- 10 cups baby spinach or any baby greens
- 10 ounces thinly sliced leftover chicken breasts
- 2 cups shredded carrots
- 2 cups mushroom slices
- 2 cups red pepper slices
- 6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
Prepare farro according to package instructions and set aside to cool.
Place spinach in a large bowl or five individual travel containers. Top with chicken slices, carrots, mushrooms, red pepper slices and cooled farro.
In a small bowl, whisk together balsamic vinaigrette. Drizzle over salad bowl if you plan to serve immediately. Otherwise, place in a travel container and dress individual salads as needed throughout the week.
Undressed salad can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days. You can mix and match toppings with whatever veggies or leftover meat you have on hand.
Enjoy these delicious lunch recipes to keep your body fueled!