When it comes to healthy eating habits (for your body and your wallet), choosing to “brown bag” it at lunchtime ranks pretty high up on the list. Unfortunately, when it comes to packing lunch each day, a good number of people think they only have enough time to throw together a boring cold sandwich and shove some celery sticks in a baggie. But it’s quite simple to add variety to your brown bag—and once you do, you’ll be watching the clock all morning long with anticipation.
I bring my lunch to work with me 99 percent of the time, and I rarely pack a sandwich. Don’t get me wrong, a really good sandwich can hit the spot on occasion, but it doesn’t have to be the fare every single day when the noon whistle blows.
Here are a few simple ways I add variety to my brown bag:
Soups and stews – I’m one of those people who enjoy the delights of a good soup or stew even in the heat of summer. And the great thing is, I can whip up a pot over the weekend and be set for lunch all week long. If other family members are interested, I simply double or triple the recipe so everyone is covered.
If you’ve ever thumbed through Nourishing Broth: An Old-Fashioned Remedy for the Modern World by Sally Fallon Morell and Kaayla T. Daniel, you know that you have so many options to choose from that you could try a different recipe each week and not repeat one for quite some time.
Big Fat Salad – I’ll be the first to admit that salad doesn’t always sound appealing to me, but we’re coming to the time of year when my opinion shifts the other way. A big fat salad at lunchtime is a super easy way to get everything you need on one plate. A favorite of mine includes a giant handful (or two) of dark leafy greens, chopped walnuts and apple, crumbled goat cheese, and diced chicken or steak.
This salad is simple to prepare if you roast the chicken or grill up a flank steak over the weekend so it’s already in the refrigerator for quick assembly. And be sure to put together a salad dressing with healthy fats before the week begins—then it’s just a matter of pouring what you need in a separate small jar as you put your big fat salad together. Waiting to dress your salad until right before you dig in keeps it from getting soggy.
Other salads – If you have hard-boiled eggs or leftovers such as chicken or ham in the fridge, chop those bad boys up, mix in some mayo, mustard, salt, and pepper—and suddenly you have a tasty lunch. If you make a big enough batch, it can last for several days. Simply spoon your lunch portion into a container, and you’re set.
While many people may prefer to slap egg salad and the like between two slices of bread, my favorite is to scoop it up with cucumber slices. They offer up some crunch while increasing your vegetable intake. In general, cucumber slices are a good substitution for crackers most any time.
Leftovers – Of course, making a little extra dinner the night before can result in an automatic lunch the next day. Heck, you can even get your lunch ready when you’re putting the leftovers away that night. Just put your portion in a smaller container and snag it on the way out the door the next morning. You don’t even have to think about it.
You see, there are lots of simple ways that you can add variety to your brown bag each week. Plus, making it yourself puts you in control of the ingredients—always a good thing.
Care to share any tricks you use to keep your brown bag interesting?