Topic: Meals to Go
Let's Pack Lunch
What to pack for lunch is always a struggle. Whether you're packing your kids lunch boxes or packing a lunch for work, coming up with healthy options can be a challenge. The right lunch is a big piece of the puzzle to help you stay focused and be more alert which will allow you to perform better in school or at work. Let us help solve the lunch dilemma. Make it healthy, make it green, and save some money along the way...let's pack lunch!
Start with the proper tools
Reusable, insulated bags with freezer packs and thermoses not only are better for our environment but they keep our lunches safe and fresh. Look for BPA, PVC and lead free lunch boxes and thermoses. Stock up on reusable containers to hold sandwiches and snacks, and eliminate additional waste with cloth napkins and reusable utensils. Avoid the single-serving packaged items as most of our trash is generated from packaging on the food we buy. Every bit helps and the healthiest foods do not come from a package.
Pack protein and fiber
The lunches and snacks you pack should always contain protein and fiber-rich foods. Protein and fiber will help you refuel and keep away hunger much longer so you'll be focused on school or work for the rest of the day. A sandwich is always the first thought for lunch. Start with fiber-packed whole wheat bread, wraps, or pita. Add lean protein such as: sliced turkey, chicken, low fat cheese, nitrate-free ham or chunk light tuna and egg salad with light mayonnaise . Add more fiber and antioxidants with sliced tomato, lettuce, shredded carrots or sliced cucumbers.
Add some color
Lunch does not have to be dull and boring. Add lots of colors with a variety of fruits and vegetables. Many of these colorful items also come in their own "naturally grown" convenient packages, such as bananas, oranges, clementines, peaches, apples and pears. Other options can be washed and cut up ahead of time and packed in reusable small containers. Pack items such as grapes, watermelon, cantaloupe, red peppers, edamame, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and carrots. Pack along hummus or yogurt dip, everyone loves to dunk!
Think outside the lunchbox
Grilled chicken from last night's dinner is perfect for a wrap or tossed on a green salad. Any grain, such as brown rice, quinoa or wheat berries with leftover vegetables and chicken, beans or lean beef from the night before makes a great lunch. Whole wheat pasta, lasagna, chili or soup store well in a thermos. Get creative and makeover your leftovers into a fabulous lunch with little effort.
Look beyond the sandwich
Your basic sandwich and bag of chips lunch can be transformed, think lots of color, protein and fiber. Low-fat yogurt packed in a reusable container with granola and fruit is a sweet snack or lunch. Pack low-fat cheeses and rolled up lean cuts of sliced deli meat for protein. A scoop of tuna salad over greens, hard boiled eggs and a bean salad make a healthy lunch. Include whole wheat crackers, whole wheat mini bagels, popcorn, nuts or mini muffins made with whole wheat flour for extra fiber.
Putting it all together
The USDA introduced the new model of eating, MyPlate (www.ChooseMyPlate.gov). MyPlate helps prioritize our food choices. It is recommended that half of our plate contain fruits and vegetables, so that means half of your lunch should be fruits and vegetables! The other half should include whole grains and a lean protein. Complete your lunch with low-fat dairy. Be sure to include 1% or skim milk, low-fat cheeses or low-fat yogurt. AND remember to stay hydrated. Taking along a reusable water bottle to keep on your desk or in your locker is a necessity! Sipping water throughout the day will help you concentrate, keep you focused and more alert.
Try out some of our recipes for a fantastic lunch, enjoy!
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