Magazine Issue
Fall 2016
Read Time: 3 minutes

Various lunch foods spread out on a table

 

We all face the lunch dilemma: how does one pack meals that are nutritious and delicious without spending hours in the kitchen or falling into the PB&J rut? Whether you are pack-ing lunches for work, school, or a romantic picnic in the park, check out these ideas.

  • Fresh is best. Use local fruits and vegetables. Add in flavor using avocados, hummus, or cheese.
  • Kabobs instead of sandwiches. Serve cheese, veggies, fruits, and meats on skewers. Can be low-carb, and no sticky fingers!
  • Mason jar salads are fun. Stack them right and they will stay fresh for days.
  • Put the dressing in the bottom of the jar first, then add large vegetable chunks that won’t be made soggy by the dressing—such as carrots, tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers. Continue stack-ing so that delicate greens and other things you want to stay crisp are near the top. It’s a great way to plan for salads with croutons or tortilla chips. Shake it onto a plate when you are ready to eat!
  • Wraps for variety. Try different flavored tortillas—maybe whole wheat rolled up with peanut butter and banana or spinach-flavored filled with hummus, meat, and vegetables. Cut the carbs by using lettuce or sliced meat as the wrap.
  • Nutrition to go makes everything easy. Try veggies, meats, and cheeses on crackers or cucumber slices. Hard-boiled eggs can travel anywhere. Transform last night’s leftovers into a sandwich or quesadilla. Try making healthy muffins with broccoli, spinach, or zucchini in them.

Stylish and Practical—Today’s Lunchboxes

The classic metal or plastic lunchbox can be both functional and fun. They are usually lightweight, durable, and easy to clean. From the construction worker’s sturdy metal box to the students’ fun Pokéball or R2-D2–shaped containers, they transport the food and can make lunchtime exciting.

A timeless lunchtime tool is the bento box. Dating back to at least the 14th century in Japan, bento boxes were used to pack food, often with stylish presentation. Today they come in reusable plastic and metal and are a handy way to transport food in separated containers. Some still spend a lot of effort styling rice and side dishes into elaborate designs.

The brown bag will always be a trustworthy classic. Nowadays, sack options include reusable plastic or washable fabric, often insulated. You can pack your crackers and carrot sticks in smaller refillables inside. Cloth or recyclable plastic baggies can be used again and again. Closure possibilities include Velcro, track seal, and fold over— all ecofriendly.

 

Written by Cynthia Glad

Photography by Bradley Slade