Happy Friday, friends! Today I'm going to start something new.
One of the biggest requests I got when I asked readers what they wanted to see on The Lean Green Bean in 2011 was suggestions for packed lunches. (**Sidenote, my new lunch box for this year is a Fit N Fresh
and has all of those cool containers pictured above in it...it's awesome!) As many of you know, I'm currently a student. I have class every day of the week. I'm taking classes at two schools. Most days I'm gone 7-5, just like a normal work day. While I don't exactly get a lunch break, unless you count sitting in my car, cramming food in my mouth in the school parking lot, all the while looking over my shoulder to make sure I don't miss the bus a lunch break. But I do pack my lunch....and I eat it when I can :)
SO, from now on I'm going to use Fridays to share some lunch ideas with you! Many of them will be cold lunches, since I don't have access to a microwave most days, but some will be hot (I do get to eat lunch at home a couple days a week)! And many can be altered or added to if you want to heat them up.
Are you ready? Here we go!
The best advice I can give my fellow lunch-packers is to start early. I usually start getting my lunch components ready on Sunday.
For example, this past Sunday I:
-made a batch of Sweet Potato Hummus
-threw some chicken breasts in the crockpot when I woke up with some broth and let them cook all day. When they were done, I shredded them and made a big batch of chicken salad
-washed a bunch of spinach and sliced some red onions to be used for spinach salad
-made a batch of roasted chickpeas
This makes it a lot easier when you actually get ready to pack your lunch each night. (Please do it at night. You're WAY more likely to actually pack it. If you wait until morning, before you know it you'll wake up late and find yourself running out the door with no lunch!
Here are my suggestions for this week:
Easy to make, keeps well in the fridge and the lunch box, cheap! And it's versatile. Eat it with crackers, pita chips, bagel chips (my new favorite-lower sodium than pita chips) or fresh veggies. Currently loving sweet potato hummus.
2) Chicken Salad.
Shredding your own chicken cuts down on the sodium vs. canned. You can make a big batch of plain chicken, turn some into salad and freeze some for another week. Or, turn half into salad and store the other half in the fridge. After a few days, decide whether or not you're sick of it. If you are, put the rest in the freezer. If not, make another batch of chicken salad. I like to eat mine using crackers as a scoop. You can also put it on a sandwich.
All I do when I make chicken salad is add a little
(emphasis on little) bit of light mayo OR some plain greek yogurt to the chicken, top with lots of curry powder and cayenne pepper, toss in some green onions and stir to combine. Super easy and super tasty!
3) Spinach salad.
You can buy big bags of baby spinach at the grocery store for pretty cheap. Prep a big tupperware of the staples (for me, spinach and red onion), then just take some out each day to pack in your lunch. You're more likely to eat it if it's already ready to go.
Add the other toppings the night before. This week I liked sliced apples and pomegranate...deeeelicious!
If you want to add dressing, put it on the bottom of your tupperware so all the spinach doesn't get soggy, then mix it around before eating. Just don't forget your fork, or you'll be eating with your fingers like I did. Don't judge me!
4) Fruit and yogurt.
This is my go-to lunch. I could eat it every day. Put some chopped fruit in a container, pack some yogurt and then mix it all together at lunch time. More apples and pomegranate arils!
With Chobani. YUM! Speaking of Chobani...i just may have a little Chobani giveaway going on next week for you guys!!! You'll have to stay tuned :) Greek yogurt is a GREAT way to get some protein at lunch time!
5) Oatmeal bowls
If you have access to a microwave then this one's for you! Make a packet of plain instant oatmeal. Push the oatmeal to one side. Put half a container of greek yogurt (I had some Peach Chobani) on the other side. Top with some fruit (you guessed it, apples and pomegranates) and a bunch of cinnamon. Mix it all together and get some of everything in each bite! Other add-in suggestions include raisins, bananas, peanut butter, chocolate chips, granola, cereal, grapes....the list goes on!
What's your favorite packed lunch? Send me your ideas and I can include them on future Fridays!