8 Simple Steps for Packing a Lunch

by Kayley Gamm, RD, LD

May 25th is National Brown Bag-It Day. In honor of this day, I have put together some simple tips for packing a healthy lunch.

  1. First and foremost, aim for simple lunches that can be repeated. You will get burned out trying to make complex and different lunches each day. Sticking to sandwiches, pasta salads and green salads is a good starting point.
  2. Be ok with repetition. Repeating a few of the same lunch components throughout the week can save time and energy. For example, chicken breast can be used on a wrap with some cheese and veggies and then on top of a salad later in the week.
  3. Plan ahead. Pick a couple of hours one day during the week to think about your meals. Take it a step further and do the prep – cook up 5 chicken breasts, make a batch of pasta salad, cut up veggies, etc. – in order to save time later.
  4. Pack frozen items. Some foods freeze well and can act as ice packs to keep the rest of your lunch cool. I like to prepare my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on frozen bread. By the time I am ready for lunch, the sandwich has defrosted but has kept the rest of my lunch cold. Yogurt is another food that freezes well.
  5. Make it easy. It is ok to go with prepared items in order to save time. Think Laughing Cow cheese wedges, nuts, peanut butter to-go cups, etc. Something as simple as cheese, crackers, a couple of slices of lunch meat, a piece of fruit and some carrot sticks can make the best lunches. Think of it as an adult Lunchable!
  6. Wraps can be your best friend. You can throw anything in a wrap – chicken salad, tuna, veggies, peanut butter! Wraps are versatile and easy to make and, for the most part, are mess-free!
  7. Think unconventionally. Just because you are packing a lunch doesn’t mean you need to eat “lunch” foods. Try a fruit and yogurt parfait in a jar. Layer yogurt, fresh berries and granola and nuts in a jar, sprinkle with cinnamon and drizzle with a little honey and you have a meal to go!
  8. Use up those leftovers! I always try to make a little bit extra when I am cooking dinner. I find that some foods, like meatloaf, make a delicious sandwich the next day.

Chicken Avocado Roll Ups

All you need:

2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken

1 ripe avocado, mashed

2 tbsp plain light Greek yogurt (you may need to add a bit more if the mixture seems dry)

2 tbsp lime juice

1 tbsp finely diced red onion

1 green onion, sliced thinly

Salt and pepper to taste

½ tsp garlic powder

2 tbsp cilantro, chopped

½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

5 to 6 tortillas (8 to 10-inch)

All you do:

  1. Combine all ingredients and mix well. Add more Greek yogurt if mixture looks a bit dry.
  2. Spread mixture evenly over tortillas and roll tightly.
  3. You can slice immediately, or refrigerate for 30 minutes before slicing into 1-inch slices.

Recipe from omgchocolatedesserts.com

Kayley Gamm, RD, LD, graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Community Medical Dietetics from Viterbo University in La Crosse, WI. After graduation, she moved to Quincy, IL where she worked as both an inpatient and outpatient dietitian. While in Illinois, she developed a diabetes education program as well as a community-based wellness program. She then moved to Medford, OR, where she spent a year and a half as a diabetes educator. For the past year and a half she has been living and working in New Zealand. Kayley has a passion for program development and community education. Her most recent project was starting a medical clinic in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. There, she acted as medical director and developed a telemedicine program to bring nutrition education to the country. Kayley grew up in Mantorville, so returns to the Rochester area to be closer to family and friends. In her free time, she enjoys being outdoors, reading and eating at new restaurants. For more posts from Kayley, click here.