What the Heck Do I Pack for Lunch?

This is the time of year when we start to reign in our free-spirited eating habits of summer and hunker down with packing healthy lunches for ourselves, or kids going off to school. Many people share with me that they feel uninspired with their lunch ideas. Don’t fret- you don’t have to be stuck with a boring sandwich, salad or canned soup.  Here are some nutritious and delicious ideas to keep your family going throughout the day.

First you need to get the right gear.

Keep your cold food cold and hot food hot. No need for microwaves in this healthy plan. Make a big pot of chili, hearty soup or stew to eat throughout the week. While you are throwing together breakfast, heat up some of your stew in a saucepan and put it in a “food thermos” (www.thermos.com). There’s nothing like opening up your thermos on a chilly fall day to a hearty, warm meal.  Kids really love this~ it makes them feel closer to home. For cold food like yogurt, salad or fruit, use a little freezer gel pack in an insulated lunch cooler. While we are talking about gear, check out Green Bags (www.greenbags.com) to keep veggies fresher for longer. And for school lunches, join the eco revolution by ditching those plastic sandwich bags for reusable sandwich bags like “lunchskins” (www.3greenmoms.com) and a variety of cool containers (like bento boxes!) at (www.laptoplunches.com).

Now what goes inside? First let’s start with a simple rule all moms know:

Leftovers are divine

You have already pulled out everything from the fridge and the pots and pans are gonna get dirty – so why not make twice as much dinner as you need so you can pack the rest for lunch? The main protein (fish, chicken, meat, tempeh) will go great on a salad or between two pieces of grainy bread. My typical lunch is a few handfuls of mixed salad greens with last nights dinner tossed on top.  My husband likes to hold his lunch (it must be a guy thing) so a “leftovers burrito” is very exciting to him (and the kids as well). Just chop up anything from dinner and throw it all together into a burrito wrap. It may need a little “sauciness” so try salsa or a favorite dressing to make it moist and yummy.  And of course soup and stews are perfect the next day with a hunk of bread for dipping…the possibilities of leftovers are endless.

Dips and spreads can go a long way.

Hummus, bean dips, pesto and nut butters are fun to spread and dip. Veggies, Crackers, chips and fruit are great for dipping in most spreads. Get creative, go crazy:  try carrots in almond butter or apples dipped in hummus- you may be surprised with the yummy combinations you can make. Make a hearty salad spread with protein and veggies.  Canned (wild) salmon works just like tuna and is delicious with chopped veggies (carrots, celery, cucumber, peppers, cabbage)  and a dressing of your choice. Same goes for hard boiled eggs or silken tofu which mixes into a creamy spread. These salads are great on bread or crackers. A fun gluten-free alternative is to fill romaine lettuce and make little lettuce boats.

Lunch is an important meal, so give it the attention it deserves.

How can you make it easier on yourself to fill your body with the right fuel? How can we encourage our kids to eat nutritious foods? Start today and challenge yourself to break your own mold.  Consider forming a lunch group with friends, coworkers or other parents and alternate providing lunch for the whole group (with a group of five people you will only prep lunch one day of the week!). We would love to hear your fabulous lunch ideas so please share!

Yours in Health,

Erika Siegel N.D. L.Ac.

 

 

 

 

 

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