|So much better than cafeteria food!|
I threw some rolled oats and barley flour in the bread machine last night and woke up to a fresh loaf of multi-grain bread that I used to make delicious sandwiches for today's lunch (pictured above). I spread a thin layer of homemade pesto on one slice of the bread and some homemade hummus on the other slice and layered baby spinach with cucumbers and tomatoes from the garden. Roasted peppers (pablano, bell, and sweet carmen) from my garden added the finishing touch. I sliced up some more cucumber to have with a side of hummus and rinsed some grapes and in less than ten minutes, I packed lunches for myself and James.
Here are a few helpful tips for packing lunches for you and your family that will help you get the most nutrition and taste out of the least amount of time:
- Pack nuts to get you through a week and stash them in your desk for when hunger strikes.
- Pack lots of veggies! Keep a bag carrots and a few cucumbers in the fridge at work and you won't have to worry about bringing them every day. Don't forget about other veggies like sliced peppers, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, and grape or cherry tomatoes.
- Fruit! Stick with what's seasonal and it will taste like it did when you were a kid. Stone fruit and apples for September. Berries at the height of summer.
- Stock low-calorie high-fiber crackers like ak-mak and melba toast in your desk just in case you run out of veggies.
- Dress up your salad. Boring salad sucks. It shouldn't be all shades of green. Add tomatoes, carrots, red onion, celery, sunflower seeds, roasted or grilled veggies, and/or beans. Try making your own dressing and keep a bottle in the fridge at work.
- Make a batch of hummus every week. Spread it on veggie sandwiches for extra fiber and protein. Bring a pint-sized container full to work on Monday and you'll have enough to snack on with carrot sticks, cucumbers, or melba toast all week. Change it up by adding some fresh basil, olives, roasted peppers, or sun-dried tomatoes. It's easy to find recipes online that you can make in a food processor or blender. You're likely to have all the ingredients in your pantry already (chick peas, olive oil, tahini paste, garlic, lemon juice, cumin, salt and pepper) and prep time is less than 10 minutes. You control what goes in and the taste of the finished product. Best of all? You'll save lots of money if you're used to buying hummus every week!
- If you have a bread machine, use it! It's fast and easy to throw a few ingredients in before bed. I'll be posting some bread recipes soon, but baking two loaves a week can save money and while it might take a little more time than buying bread at the grocery store, you can control what goes in and vary the nutrient profile you eat with every loaf. Goodbye boring (or expensive exciting) bread. Hello hearty whole grains. Rye and wheat flours, oats, cornmeal, and seeds add protein and fiber. Bonus points if you opt for organic!
- Pack something sweet, but make sure it's got nutritional value, too. Gummy vitamins, calcium chocolates, and ginger candies are my favorites.
- HAVE FUN! When packing for your kids, keep it colorful and pack lots of finger foods. Check out http://veganlunchbox.blogspot.com/ for lots of great ideas!
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