Healthful Lunches: What’s in the Bag?

 

Don't be left out at lunch! Pack smart!

Packing a lunch can be great for your health! Choosing and preparing exactly what you want to eat gives you more control over calorie and nutrient content than you would have in a restaurant or when eating packaged foods. So how can you pack a healthful and satisfying lunch without slaving in the kitchen all day? Try these tips!

MyPlate is a great lunch resourceStrive for Balance

Balance is the key to a lunch that is filling but not overwhelming. Begin by bringing something from each MyPlate group in your lunch each day. Over time, you can work on including each item in the portion and proportion advocated by MyPlate. Check out this picture of MyPlate for a better sense of how to balance the contents of your lunch bag.

Pick a Solid Foundation

A fantastic “base” food is a great tool for building a healthful lunch. Simply pile new foods onto that base, changing the toppings as you explore different flavors and textures. Here’s a rundown of our favorite lunch foundations.

  • Sandwich or wrap: A sandwich or wrap makes an excellent lunch base.Wraps are especially tasty with salad greens, some low-fat cheese, sliced raw vegetables, and a light vinaigrette.
  • Salad: Just like with those sandwiches, it’s really easy to pile new foods on a base of hearty greens. Try a salad with quinoa or rice, lots of greens, sliced veggies, and a piece of chicken or fish. You could do a Southwest theme with corn, beans, and salsa, or take a more Mediterranean approach with olives, peppers, and feta. Be creative!
  • Soups: Whirr leftover vegetables with broth and spices and bam! You’ve got a great soup that you can bring to lunch.

A healthful lunch is in the bag!Utilize Leftovers

Leftovers are your friend! When you make a healthful dinner, try doubling the recipe, then packaging the leftovers into single serving containers to bring for lunch during the week. If there are too many leftovers to eat in a week, take those individual portions and freeze them. Freezing foods that you’ve made for later lunches is a great way to fight the monotony that can set in when you eat the same thing for lunch every day. A well-stocked freezer can offer a variety of super convenient lunch options. Try...

  • Lasagna
  • Casseroles
  • Eggplant Parmesan
  • Soup
  • Beans and Rice
  • Chili

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