How to Make a Green & Healthy Bagged Lunch

Green and healthy lunch ideasHave you joined the ranks of people vowing to eat healthier? There are so many ways you can start and one of the big ones is with lunch. It’s pretty easy to overdo it at lunch, especially when you are eating away from home. If you have a cafeteria at work or have fast-food joints nearby, the temptation to eat out is high, and we all know how unhealthy that can be. Even when you do pack a lunch, the standard ham & cheese on white bread and a bag of chips, may be the easiest way to go, but not the healthiest.

Whether you have always been a brown bagger or you are just getting started with home-packed lunches, here are some tips for making appealing lunches that are healthier both for you and the planet:

Switch out (or skip) the bread:

  • If white bread is your habit, it’s time to make the switch to whole wheat or at least multi-grain.
  • Try sandwich thins or whole wheat tortillas as a less calorie-laden alternative to regular bread.
  • Skip the bread completely and use healthy crackers or rice cakes as a sandwich base.
  • Instead of ham & cheese, try a healthy BLT made with nitrate-free turkey bacon.
  • Instead of egg salad, try a hummus & veggie sandwich.
  • Instead of the standard peanut butter & jelly, try almond butter with sliced bananas and agave nectar.

Add plenty of fruits & veggies:

  • If you are a salad fan, mix up a big bowl of salad at the beginning of the week (undressed, of course) and pack a serving each day. There’s nothing wrong with buying those organic salad mixes either if the convenience gets you to eat healthier!
  • Pack cut-up veggies in every lunch. If you fill up on veggies, you’ll be less tempted by the candy jar!
  • Keep a small basket of fresh fruit at your desk to quell your hunger between meals.

Give leftovers a chance:

  • My husband is famous for his yummy leftovers at work. That’s because I make extra food at dinner so that I have plenty left for lunches!
  • Soups, stews, spaghetti and stir-fries all make great lunch material.
  • If all you have is leftover rice, add some frozen veggies and a dash of soy sauce and call it a meal.

Mix it up:

  • Instead of a sandwich or main dish, bring a lunch made up of a mix of healthy foods.
  • Healthy protein sources include hard-boiled eggs, Greek yogurt, nuts, avocado, cheese and lean meats.
  • Pack whole grain crackers or pretzels instead of chips.
  • Pick up a bag of trail mix and divide into snack-sized portions. Or make your own trail mix with a variety of dried fruits, nuts and seeds.
  • Grapes, clementines and baby carrots are easy to grab if you don’t have time to prep.

Try something different:

  • My latest lunch time treat is a baked sweet potato. Topped with raisins, unsweetened coconut and a dollop of almond butter, it is both nutritious and delicious!
  • Baked potato topped with cooked veggies and cheese.
  • Hummus or other bean dips with veggies (try my kid-friendly orange hummus!)
  • Homemade burritos or quesadillas with beans, veggies and cheese.

Bring a healthy sweet:

Pack in reusables, not disposables:

Do you bring your lunch to work? What are your ideas for a greener and healthier bagged lunch?

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{image credit: EssjayNZ via flickr}

About Micaela

Micaela Preston is a marketing and communications consultant specializing in natural, organic and eco-friendly products and the health and wellness space. Micaela is available as a social media manager, green lifestyle writer, public speaker, brand ambassador and marketing manager.

Comments

  1. Great list. Thank you for the inspiration.

  2. You're welcome Michelle (Green Bean)! I agree – I love getting inspiration for new food ideas!

  3. New lunch ideas always seems to leave me stumped. We work from home so we have more options than a brown bag, but we still need something quick. I think we’ll be trying the hummus veggie wrap idea very shortly- like in the next 30 minutes 🙂

  4. Glad to hear I gave you a new lunch idea Mary! I work from home too – but that doesn't necessarily make it easier. We still need to take the time to prepare our healthy food!

  5. I like the skip the break idea. No reason lunch has to be a sandwich. I salad with lots of stuff on top can be great. When I can’t pack the dressing separate, sometimes I put it at the bottom of the container and mix right before I’m ready to eat. Then only the bottom is a little soggy. Also – parsley salad is higher in nutrients and doesn’t wilt! Your readers might also like this idea for a great alternative to cup-o-noodles: http://nonrecipe.blogspot.com/2011/08/make-pre-mixed-bulgar-salad.html

  6. Thanks for the bulgar salad idea Yosefa! I'm a big fan of bulgar myself – especially mixed with tomatoes, onions, black olives and feta!

     

Trackbacks

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