When you’re packing lunch to-go, it’s easy to get stuck in a routine making the same things week to week.
Want to spice things up? Our nutrition team has put together a collection of healthy, easy lunch ideas for all ages:
- Repurpose leftovers: leftovers from dinner make great lunches the next day! Round out the lunch as needed with a fruit or vegetable, and maybe a little treat. For example: Taco night leftovers served over rice makes a tasty burrito bowl, or pair a serving of casserole with a handful of no-prep vegetables such as grape tomatoes, baby carrots, or snap peas.
- Charcuterie for One: The simplicity of cheese and crackers appeals to all ages, and when paired with fruits and vegetables the result is a balanced meal. Pair whole grain crackers with slices of cheese, as well as carrot sticks or mini peppers, and grapes or apple slices.
- Breakfast for Lunch: Many breakfast staples make great lunches! Try pancakes, waffles, or French toast, paired with eggs or yogurt, and some fruit!
- Salad in a Jar: In a wide-mouthed lidded quart container add 2 Tbsp. of salad dressing. Fill ¼ of the jar with layers of chopped veggies, add ½ cup each of protein and a cooked grain or other starch (rice, quinoa, pasta), then fill the rest with lettuce or other leafy greens. To serve, invert and shake to distribute the dressing, then remove the lid and transfer to a large bowl, or eat straight from the jar.
- Mix-and-match: use the following formula for a well-rounded lunch every time: add a protein, grain or starch, and veggies and/or fruit. For example: Hummus, veggie sticks, pita triangles (or pretzels), and raisins; Tuna/egg/chicken salad, crackers, and a clementine; or Pasta salad, deli meat roll-ups, and an apple or applesauce cup .
Meal prep for many: when you’re the one preparing lunches to-go for the whole household, it can be tricky to put together meals that everyone likes. Here are a few tips for success:
- Make it a family activity! Bringing everyone together is a great way to spend quality time and also give your family ownership over their lunch.
- Avoid packing new foods, especially for children. Try potential lunch foods at home first to make sure your family likes it and knows how to eat it.
- Getting input from your household when you’re planning grocery lists can go a long way to make sure there is nothing left uneaten in your lunchboxes!
- Consider partially opening packaged foods, like cheese sticks, so that it’s easy for your child to open them without the help of a teacher.
We hope these ideas help you “think outside the sandwich!” Stay tuned and follow us on Facebook and Instagram @theopendoorma for more recipes, tips, and the latest news from The Open Door!