Brown Bag Lunch Ideas

Easy ways to make daily portable lunch production a pleasure.

| August/September 1994

  • 145 brown bag lunch ideas
    Don't limit your brown bag lunch ideas to white bread and baloney. Try pita bread filled with whatever veggies your kids will eat.

  • 145 brown bag lunch ideas

I could look forward to the Labor Day weekend barbecue if I weren't dreading the lunch-making marathon only hours away. Once those school doors open, I'm packing three lunches daily. Not only does this routine turn any kitchen into a mass assembly line, but depending on the whims of the consumers, it's also subject to change from day to day. When my son was in the first grade, he would eat only peanut butter and jelly for the entire school year. But as time goes on, picky taste buds give way to what's the socially acceptable lunch. If the "cool" lunch is baloney on white and our house is without high-fat, nitrate-loaded lunch meat, then guess who's going to join the "trade-your-lunch" network? We could eliminate some lunch trading by having our children assemble their own lunches, but it's doubtful that they'll survive on marshmallow-creme sandwiches.

Brown bag lunch ideas for adults can be almost as challenging. My husband prefers a hearty "real" lunch as opposed to my salad lunch. He rarely complains about the condition of his lunch (sometimes he makes it) unless he's forced to eat vegetable soup five days consecutively. I, of course, never complain about my lunch; who would listen? Variety is the key to an exciting lunch since looking forward to that noon hour gets us through the morning.

As parents we know that our children's learning potential is increased with proper nourishment throughout the day. As working adults we have discovered that our eating habits affect our productivity. How many of us have fallen asleep on the computer keyboard after a high-fat business lunch? Studies show that the most productive hours of the day for the majority of people are those between 10:00 A.M. and 3:00 P.M., then diminishing until bedtime. This makes lunch a more important meal for us than dinner, which is at the end of the day. Our best bet for making it through the day is a low-fat, complex-carbohydrate lunch, using some protein such as chicken, fish, or beans. Not only will we feel better, we'll be satisfied so we won't be tempted to eat an entire bag of cookies during our afternoon coffee break.

Vegetable Pita Pocket

If a family member must have meat in her sandwich, shred about 1/4 cup cooked chicken or turkey and add to this sandwich. Just triple the recipe if you're making three lunches.

 1 whole wheat or plain pita bread—1 inch section sliced off
 1 cup small spinach leaves—washed and dried, and sliced into 1/4 inch strips
1/2 cup coarsely grated carrot
1/2 small red pepper—seeded, cored, and cut into thin strips, then diced
1/2 small red onion peeled, halved, and sliced thin
1/4 cup Swiss cheese—grated (1 use a low-fat smoked Swiss)
optional: 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper (such as jalapeno)—seeded and minced
optional: 1/4 cup cooked chicken or turkey, (shredded)


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