What's inside the box?
Whether you pack a lunch for work or school, here are a few simple reminders that lunch from home does not have to be boring, mediocre or mundane.
Thinking outside the box assures there's good stuff inside, saves time, saves money and puts you in charge of what you eat.
And if you still have a vintage lunchbox like this, you'll be the envy of all your friends, even before they see the delicious things you've packed inside.
Leftovers can be reheated or eaten cold. If you liked it for dinner, why not for lunch? Make extra to save time and money. And yes, cold pizza is a suitable leftover.
Slow Cookers are the answer if you want a non-leftover lunch. They work while you sleep to make soups, stews, chili, casseroles, spaghetti sauce, meatballs, Italian beef, barbecue, sloppy joes, etc. and have them ready for your insulated container in the morning. Freeze the extras for another lunch, or is that considered a leftover too?
Breakfast can be lunch, especially for anyone who doesn’t like to eat before work, craves an extra ten minutes of sleep, or works a night shift. Bagels and cream cheese, biscuit sandwiches with egg, meat and/or cheese, pancakes or waffles with syrup for dipping or pouring, pancake burritos with fruit, yogurt with fruit and granola, cereal and milk, or even dry cereal aren’t just for breakfast anymore.
Rotisserie chicken from the deli makes fast and easy chicken salad, casseroles, sandwiches, quesadillas, or soups. Buy two – one for dinner and one for lunch!
Sandwiches can be made out of anything you put between two pieces of bread, in a pita, on a roll or croissant, or whatever. Pack the wet and dry ingredients separately and assemble at lunchtime. No more soggy sandwich.
Salads can be made from anything you chop and put in a bowl. Eating salad for lunch doesn’t make you a vegetarian, or even a dieter – it just makes you smart. Once a week, shop, wash, chop, slice, dice and store in the refrigerator a variety of your favorite salad ingredients. Lunch can be tossed together in less than a minute with your choices for the day from containers of lettuce, spinach, tomato, bell pepper, peas, carrots, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, onion, cucumber, olives, cheese, beans, sliced meats, artichoke hearts, sunflower seeds, nuts, fruit, croutons, chow mein noodles, cold pasta, cold roasted vegetables, bacon, or eggs. Pack the dressing on the side.
Dips and dunkers are not just for parties. Make an easy lunch with hummus, yogurt, peanut butter, Nutella, pizza sauce, salsa, guacamole, caramel, salad dressing, cream cheese or marshmallow fluff paired with your choice of string cheese, pretzels, carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, pea pods, pepper strips, apples slices, bananas, orange sections, grapes, cherries, crackers, or chips – although some of those combinations might provoke one of those unfortunate lunchroom incidents.
Eggs are an excellent source of protein anytime. For lunch think deviled eggs, egg salad, sliced eggs in salad, omelets, egg sandwiches etc.
Sweet treats are always a nice surprise. Fruit is the sweet treat of choice, but don’t forget the classics – cookies, brownies, dessert bars, cupcakes, donuts, snack size candy bars, kiddie cereal, nuts, Hershey kisses, and trail mix.
Drinks do more than hydrate for lunch. Freeze bottled drinks like juice and water overnight to keep food cold all morning in an insulated container. And they’ll be just right to drink by lunchtime.
Appearance, flavor, texture, variety and (mostly) homemade foods make lunchbox food more appealing. Mix different flavors and textures in every lunch to avoid boredom. Take care to pack food carefully, so it looks good enough to eat when lunch time arrives.