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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Lunch Ideas

So the ever fantabulous Fed Up With Lunch has a guest post today from Rachel who talks about packing her own lunches when she was in high school. She posted some awesome links with great ideas for a variety of lunches to pack, and of course anything that works well in high school (or elementary school for that matter!) works well in college. Now, some of the suggestions aren't aimed at me...for example, I don't need to cut my sandwiches in silly bear and star shapes to convince myself to eat them! But some of them are great new ideas for different sandwiches, or even totally new ideas that I can use (I am going to ROCK me some pizza quesadillas at some point).

So culled from the links that Rachel posted, here are a few of my favorites - Hope they help others out as much as they are going to help me :-)

15 Fresh Brown Bag Lunch Ideas ***Note from Tina - I am not putting all 15 in here, I am just putting in the ones I think will work best for me. Feel free to check out the link for the other ideas!***
  • Pasta Lover's Lunch Salad. Pack a cold pasta salad and a plastic fork, and your pasta lover will love you, too! Make your salad with lean meat or low-fat cheese (so it has some protein), lots of vegetables to boost fiber and nutrition, and use a whole-grain blend pasta, like Barilla Plus. Then just drizzle some light vinaigrette over the top and toss. ***Yeah! I love this idea and used to do it all the time...time to get back to it!***
  • The Fruit and Cheese Plate Special. Make crispy cracker sandwiches with whole-wheat crackers, slices of assorted cheese, and lean meats. Don't forget the fruit, which goes nicely with the cheese and adds fiber and nutrition. ***I am not a big fan of lunch meat, but doing this with slices of baked tofu sounds awesome***
  • Bagel With Cream Cheese, Please. Bagels are a wonderful foundation for hardy sandwiches that stand up to being in a backpack or locker all morning. You can toast a bagel in the morning and simply spread some light cream cheese in the middle. Or make a bagel sandwich with, say, a little light cream cheese, some turkey, and cranberry sauce, then top it off with alfalfa sprouts or Romaine lettuce. ***This is actually great, especially for when I need dinner at the theatre because after getting tossed around my bag all day sandwiches on bread tend to get a bit too goopy for me***
  • Carry a Cobb Salad. Plastic containers can hold the makings of a delicious salad lunch. Fill it with chopped green lettuce, chopped hard-boiled egg, light cheese, and/or lean ham. You can buy packets of light dressing, or just use extra packets of light salad dressing left over from your last trip to the fast-food chain. ***This would be a decent idea on the days when I can eat lunch at work...on days when I have 10 minutes to get from class to class, not so much***
  • It's a Wrap! Wraps are a nice change of pace from the usual sandwich. Use one of the new higher-fiber tortillas, like the multigrain flour tortillas available in most supermarkets. Then fill 'er up with chicken Caesar salad or assorted lean meats, cheese, tomato, sliced onion, shredded Romaine lettuce, and light dressing. Just roll it up and wrap in foil. ***Same plusses as the bagel sandwich***
  • Noodle Soup Cups. Many schools offer a hot water dispenser so kids can add hot water to packaged noodle soup cups. Some brands are higher in sodium and fat, and lower in fiber than others. Check out the options in stores like Whole Foods or Trader Joe's. ***I have these awesome noodle soup packets from Thai Kitchen that I am thinking doing in a thermos in the morning...would need something else to bulk it up though, just a noodle cup is a little flimsy on staying power***
  • Veggie Sushi. Not all kids will go for this one, but there are some out there who really like seaweed-wrapped sushi rolls. You can now buy pre-made sushi at many supermarkets, too. Choosing the veggie-filled sushi means there's no chance the sushi will get a little "fishy" while it's in your kid's backpack. ***I would LOVE to do this if I could find the seaweed cheaply...I could see making these the night before and having them ready for lunch the next day, and doing it veggie style also keeps the cost down***
  • Toss Some Taco Salad. If taco salad is a favorite, you can pack the meat mixture tossed with the shredded cheese, tomatoes, and chopped Romaine lettuce in a plastic container. At lunchtime, your child can add crunchy, reduced-fat tortilla chips and a little light dressing. ***I am a TOTAL sucker for taco salad! Same issue as the cobb salad, but I would totally bring this to much on at work***
  • Fried Rice Can Be Fun. When made with eggs or chopped lean ham and lots of veggies, cold fried rice can be a satisfying noontime treat. Make your own, or plan on leftovers the night before if you're ordering from a restaurant. ***Definitely doing this...easy, quick, uses leftovers...perfect!***
  • Talk About Taquitos. I started doing this last year, and it seems to have stuck with my girls. I pop some Bean and Cheese frozen Taquitos from Whole Foods into my toaster oven in the morning, then let them cool. Then, I wrap them in foil and make sure they stay cool by packing a frozen juice box or small water bottle. By noon, they are cold, fun finger food. ***So I wouldn't buy frozen taquitos...but replace that with homemade and preheated bean burrito and you are speaking my language!***
  • Meal Muffins. Certain types of muffins work as a lunch entree. If you bake them over the weekend and keep them in the freezer, you just have to pull one or two out in the morning. By lunch, they are nicely chilled and ready to eat. Try ham and cheese muffins, Mexican Cornbread muffins, or quiche muffins (quiche filling, baked with or without crust in a muffin pan). ***YES YES YES!! When I was a South Beacher I made tons of the mini quiches with egg, spinach and cheese...so easy to grab and go***

Vegan Lunch Ideas ***I would probaby make some of these vegetarian instead of vegan since my budget just doesn't allow for soy cheese or yogurt, but otherwise this is such a great list to get the mind going! I have starred the ones that I especially am going to remember***


Peanut butter and jelly
Peanut butter and apple or banana slices
***Peanut butter and grated carrots
Nut butter sandwiches on small crackers
Nut butter and jelly on a whole grain bagel
Peanut butter with sliced bananas rolled up inside a flour tortilla
***Hummus, shredded carrots and celery rolled up inside a flour tortilla
Hummus on whole wheat bread
Hummus with tomatoes, cucumber and lettuce
Hummus with sliced grapes
Hummus with grated carrot
***Hummus with sliced &
sautéed mushrooms
Leftover pasta or grain dishes in a wrap
Cucumbers or tomatoes and soy cream cheese with sprouts in a wrap
Tofu mayonnaise mixed with nut butters, celery and peppers
Vegan cream cheese and jelly sandwiches, cut up into quarters or fingers
Avocado mashed on crackers
Roasted red pepper with tomato and soy cream cheese
Tofu egg salad in a pita pocket with lettuce

Warm lunches: ***I'm thinking I might need to spring for a small thermos or food jar to take some of these***

Heat these up in the morning and pack in a thermos.
***Bean and veggie soup with toast fingers to dip in it
***Rice and beans, with shredded vegan cheese on the side to mix in
***Pasta and marinara sauce
Frozen peas sautéed in a bit of olive oil and garlic powder
Canned chickpeas sautéed in a bit of olive oil and cumin
***Canned chickpeas and tomatoes sautéed in olive oil and basil

Cold Meals:
***Cubes of marinated/baked tofu
Ziti or multicolored finger food pasta with grated
soy cheese and tomato sauce for dipping
Chickpeas, green beans and macaroni (mixed together, no sauce)
***Veggie dog wrapped in biscuit dough and baked
Baby potatoes and carrots, cooked whole, with tofu-based dip
***Baked white or sweet potato 'fries' with cubed
veggie burger and ketchup to dip
***Taco salad - nachos with chopped tomatoes, guacamole, shredded vegan cheese and other toppings
***Quesadillas - vegan cheese with refried beans and whatever veggies are handy
Pancake with fruit spread to dip
French toast cut into bars with maple syrup, jam, or applesauce for dipping
***Cold pasta salad - use leftover vegetables, vary the shapes/colors of pasta and the salad dressings
Brown rice or whole wheat couscous based salad
Kidney or black bean salad

Snacks and Sides:
Fresh fruit with dip (vegan cream cheese mixed with juice concentrate or preserves)
***Fruit salad
Fruit cups
Dried fruit
Fruit leather
Apple slices with peanut butter to dip
Apples, cut in half, cored and filled with peanut butter, make raisin eyes and pretzel legs, then wrap in plastic wrap, or a container
Ants on a log - spread peanut butter or vegan cream cheese in celery and top with raisins
***Carrots, celery and pita bread triangles with hummus for dipping
Fresh veggies and hummus
Celery and carrots with peanut butter to dip
Broccoli with dip
Baba ghanouj (roast eggplant
purée) for dipping veggies
Veggie/Fruity/Pirate's Booty
Baked chips
Peanut butter spread on whole wheat crackers
Trail mix
Granola bars
Dry cereal
Soy yogurt
Soy cheese cut in cubes

2 Fun Lunch Recipes

The first is a high energy peanut butter ball that would make a great grab and go lunch or snack item when around campus. The second just sounds yummy and fun!

Peanut Butter Bites

1 cup peanut butter (creamy or crunchy)

1/2 cup nonfat dry milk powder

1/2 cup raisins (or other dried fruit chopped small)

1/4 cup honey

Graham cracker crumbs (or crushed nuts, or shredded coconut, or mini chocolate chips, etc.)

In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients except the graham cracker crumbs. Shape the mixture into 1-inch balls. Roll in the crumbs and refrigerate. Makes 24.

Pizza Quesadillas

Place a flour tortilla in a nonstick skillet over low heat, spread it with tomato sauce, and sprinkle it with grated cheese, shredded meat, chopped vegetables and other fillings. Top it with another tortilla and cook it like a grilled cheese. When it has cooled, slice it like a pizza and pack it up!