What are some good ideas for a healthy brown bag lunch?

Packing a lunch is a great way to help you get the necessary nutrients that you need to get you through the day. The right brown bag lunch can help give you energy and help keep your metabolism elevated throughout the afternoon. It also can help prevent the “I need to buy my lunch from a vending machine” syndrome that many people are faced with each day. First determine if you can refrigerate your lunch or not. If it is truly a “brown bag” lunch, you will need to be able to keep it cool if you have certain items in it (dairy, meat, eggs, mayonnaise etc). If you don’t have refrigeration capabilities, you may wish to invest in a lunch box with thermal properties or pack an ice pack in the lunch to keep things cool. A big tip for pre-packing lunches would be to mix it up. I have talked to many people that get stuck in lunch “ruts” where they pack the same turkey sandwich every day. Eventually these folks go to the vending machine/fast food seeking other flavors. Now get creative! Utilizing sturdy Tupperware can allow you to pack a whole wheat pasta salad (including red and yellow peppers, black olives, tomatoes, broccoli and chick peas mixed with a low fat Italian dressing). Pack peanut butter in a Tupperware container and pair it with whole grain crackers, celery sticks and dried fruit. I personally use old Chinese take out containers and pack my salads in them. I mix baby spinach, left over grilled chicken slices, dried cherries, and low fat Feta cheese together in the container. I include a light raspberry vinaigrette dressing, an orange and water to round out my lunch. Mediterranean pita pockets can be great lunches as well. Stuff a whole wheat pita with hummus, sliced tomatoes, spinach; top with alfalfa sprouts and pair with Greek yogurt and water or low sugar juice. Utilize leftovers, too. Again, using a sturdy container, pack the whole wheat portabella spaghetti that you had the night before and include a whole grain roll with it. Or the leftover chicken stir fry can be great the next day with a few slices of low fat cheese and whole wheat crackers. If you don’t have a lot of time to pack a lunch, do a “hodgepodge” of lunch goodies. Pack a baggie filled with almonds, a piece of fruit, a cup of yogurt, and half of a whole wheat bagel and you will still be getting a nice variety of nutrients at lunch.

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