Pack a Better Lunch: Think Outside the Bag!

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Pack Better Bag Lunches!

Brown Bag Lunches can quickly become boring if they are the same old thing over and over again. Kids may trade to get a lunch that they find more fun to eat. For adults, boredom can lead to a trip to the vending machine or convenience store- a difficult place to find healthful choices. The solution is to mix it up with nutritious and fun choices!

Think outside the bag

To start thinking “outside the bag,” use some of the ideas below to put together a fun lunch that brown-baggers of all ages will enjoy.
Be sure to add your favorites to the list!

Note: Remember to add a freezer pack and insulated bag to keep foods (which need to remain cool) safe until lunch time.

For each lunch bag:

  1. Choose 1 or 2 (WHOLE GRAINS):
    • Whole grain crackers
    • Whole grain mini-bagel or pita bread
    • Toasted whole grain English muffin
    • Low fat granola in a one-quarter cup container
    • Low fat bran muffin
    • Whole grain rice or pasta salad
  2. Choose 2, or more, 1/2 cup servings of (VEGETABLES):
    • Three-bean salad, with added beets and olives, dressed with balsamic vinegar and olive oil
    • Hummus (garbanzo bean spread)
    • Vegetable soup (1-cup) in a thermos or microwave safe container
    • Baby carrots
    • Celery sticks
    • Cherry or grape tomatoes
    • Cooked okra pods
    • Cooked green beans
    • Sweet pepper strips
    • Cooked corn the cob (6”ear = ½ cup; 8-9” ear =1 cup)
    • Salad (1-cup) with one tablespoon of dressing
  3. Choose 1 (FRUIT):
    • Favorite fall apples
    • Dried fruit packed in a one-quarter cup container
    • Frozen berries packed in a one-half cup container (they thaw by lunchtime)
    • One-cup 100% juice
    • Chocolate milk or calcium–fortified soy milk
    • Yogurt
    • String cheese
    • Light cheese rounds or triangle wedges
    • High calcium hot cocoa packet or already made up in a thermos
    • Pudding
  5. Choose 1 (PROTEIN):
    • Turkey or chicken breast or roast beef slices
    • Canned tuna, salmon or other fish
    • Bean salad or spread from above (beans count as protein AND vegetable)
    • Flavored baked tofu or tempeh chunks
    • Chunky peanut butter, sunflower seed or almond butter

You can create delicious lunch combinations, for example:

  • Whole grain crackers and cheese, chicken and vegetable soup in a thermos, a serving of celery sticks, chocolate milk to drink and a Ginger Gold apple.
  • Three-bean salad with grape tomatoes, low fat bran muffin and thawed frozen fruit topped with yogurt.
  • Toasted whole grain English muffin with tomato, turkey, and low fat cheese with 100% grape juice to drink.

Brown bag lunches won’t be boring anymore!

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By: Mary Choate / Welcome to the Table / Edited and republished on BFC due to a broken link at Welcome to the Table’s website.

Printed with permission from the Hanover Consumer Cooperative Society, Inc. Copyright 2010.