Figuring out what to pack for lunch can seem like a never-ending chore. Whether for your child at school or yourself at work, coming up with nutritious meals that are short on prep time but long on taste is a true culinary challenge. Fortunately, all it takes to break out of the noontime rut is a little thinking out of the lunchbox. Put down the PB&J and try one of these boredom-free brown bag recipes:
1. Chicken Salad with Fruit on Whole Grain Bread
Roast chicken, grapes, and apples give an old standard a sophisticated—and tasty—twist.
2. Mozzarella and Pesto on Baguette
A sandwich that’s a cinch to make, this combo’s as big a hit in the school cafeteria as it is in the office lunchroom.
3. Meatball Pitas
Substitute pita for the roll and lean ground turkey instead of beef for the healthiest—and neatest—meatball sandwich you’ve ever tasted.
Meat or veggie, the beauty of chili is that it can be made in advance. Serve it for dinner then heat up the leftovers in the morning, pour them into a thermos and voila: instant hearty homemade meal.
5. Turkey or Ham and Melon Rolls
Roll sliced turkey or ham around melon wedges for a savory-sweet alternative to a traditional wrap. For a calcium boost, roll in a slice of your favorite cheese.
6. Hummus, Veggies & Pita
Kids love to dip, and if cocktail parties are any indication, grownups do too. This meal requires just three small reusable containers: one for the hummus, one for sliced veggies, and one for pita triangles. Toss in some olives and go the full Mediterranean.
7. Guacamole, Veggies, & Chips
See above, but substitute guac for hummus and organic tortilla chips for pita. And skip the olives.
8. Sandwich Skewers
For some reason, Americans have a thing about food on a stick. Impale it with a skewer and it just tastes better. Why? Who knows—just go with it. Chop any meats, cheeses, fruits, veggies, and bread you have in the fridge into bite-sized hunks, then slide them onto a wooden skewer and pack it up. Without the structure of a sandwich, you may even find yourself skipping the condiments—and the fat and calories that come with them.
Need even more inspiration? Find more creative lunch ideas at these websites: