5 Brown Bag Meals You’ll Actually Want to Take

by Andrea on September 30, 2010

in Nutrition,Recipes

I know you want to eat more home-cooked meals. I know eating out is sometimes frustrating, because you can’t find decent fare — at least no without dropping some significant bucks. I know you’ve considered taking lunch with you, but it’s oh such a hassle.

Some of you do carry lunch with you, but it’s the same banana, yogurt and granola bar everyday and I now you’re sick of it.

There’s no science to preparing meals to go, other than planning… well,  practical and cute tupperware helps, but it’s really about the planning.

By the way, if you happen to work from home like I do, planning for lunch is incredibly handy for you too, so I’d continue reading. And of course, these ideas will inspire school lunches as well.

Here are 5 different kinds of meals that can be carried without much hassle and are easily adaptable to your needs. I’m including gluten-free and grain free ideas, in case you happen to be playing with these modalities, so, no excuse :-).

1. Egg dishes: quiches, frittatas and clafouttis.
I love egg dishes because they’re good for any meal of the day and can be easily warmed up, or eaten just at room temperature. Frittatas and clafoutis are excellent gluten and grain-free alternatives to quiche.

Ideas? We’ve got ideas…

Spinach, Caramelized Onion and Chevre Quiche with Potato Crust from Jenny at Nourished Kitchen

Viva La Frittata! by moi

Flourless Sweet OR Savory Clafouti. Me again.

2. Salads.
The sky is the limit when it comes to what can be mixed with good salad greens. One thing I know will help a lot if you want to eat more salads is a good salad spinner (packaged salad mixes are expensive and full of preservatives). Not only will it dry your greens easily and well, but also it is the perfect container to keep them in the fridge.You can wash one head of lettuce at a time, use as much as you need and put the salad spinner in the fridge with the lettuce leftovers for next time. Brilliant!

To carry your salad, you just need a good piece of Tupperware and a leak-free little jar for dressing, or… what about something like this?

Well, again… any combination works, but make sure there’s some good protein and fat in there, otherwise you won’t make it until dinner time.

Here’s an idea from Kimi over at The Nourishing Gourmet. That picture makes it look so good!
Bacon, Egg and Avocado Salad

3. Soups.
For this one, you want to get a good thermos — something like this, and you want to prepare really hearty soups, with meat and/or beans and veggies. You know, the chunky, stewy kind. If you eat beans then chilis are great to take. Pack a little side salad, or a piece of bread — if you eat bread — and you’re all set.

Chicken Barley Leek Soup by Katie at Kitchen Stewardship

Coconut Lime Chicken Soup from The Joyful Abode

4. Grain and pasta salads of all kinds.
These are oh, so practical! Cold or room temperature. Easy to carry. For gluten free options, you can use gluten free pasta or any gluten free grains: quinoa, millet, rice, etc.

The grain-free options are a little more tricky, but you can use roasted winter squashes, sweet potatoes, or some other starchy veggie, OR cauliflower to replace the grain (I’ll develop some recipes with this concept. Actually, I HAVE prepared several dishes using this concept, now that I am seriously restricting my consumption of grains, but I just haven’t written the recipes. I will. Promise).

Cold Quinoa Salad with Radicchio, Chicken and Pine Nuts from Jenny at Nourished Kitchen

Pesto Quinoa with Apricots, Olives and Scallions. One of my most popular recipes.

5. Sandwiches and wraps.
The very important thing here  is to use high quality bread: sprouted or real sourdough. If you buy gluten free bread, take a look at the label. Sometimes these breads have a really long list of low quality ingredients. This is my favorite store-bought gluten free bread, but I know it’s not easy to find everywhere (also, it contains traces of gluten, so it isn’t fit for people with Celiac disease). The grain free version of a wrap can be made with lettuce, or a cooked dark leafy green. I haven’t found a good coconut or almond flour bread recipe that results in sturdy sandwich bread (anyone?).

Chicken Lettuce Wraps like P.F. Chang’s and Lower Carbs, too! by the awesome Kelly the Kitchen Kop

Good Chicken Salad Salad – With Grapes and Pine Nuts. Another good one from The Joyful Abode

A Nourishing Traditions Sandwich by Cara at Health, Home and Happiness

Wild Red Salmon Salad by Wardeh at GNOWFGLINS

O’righty. I hope that has been helpful.

Now, what’s stopping you from having more homemade meals for lunch? Or, do you have some ninja secrets to have homemade meals for lunch? C’mon! Share in the comments down there.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Yira 09.30.10 at 7:59 pm

Hola! I loved your post. Today I was looking to my grocery list and realized that I bought the same thing every time I go to the supermarket. The same bananas, and yes the same boring granola bar. Oh my God! this post came in the right time for me because tomorrow I will buy some groceries and didn’t know what to buy, because since I’m reading your blog I wanted to eat quality foods and prepared exciting meals. You inspired me. This ideas you post here are fabulous. Thanks a lot. I will write down the ingredients of some of the dishes you post in here and I will let you know.
Gracias!!!!

[Reply]

2 Wardeh @ GNOWFGLINS 09.30.10 at 10:29 pm

That WAS helpful. A great lineup! Thanks for including my red salmon salad. Which reminds me that we haven’t had it in awhile.

My children and I pack lunch one day a week — our errand day. We often have variations of many of the dishes you linked. Our favorite is to do a cold grain salad with quinoa, pinto beans, herbs, and homemade goat cheese in an olive oil dressing. Mmm…. Wraps are another that we do quite often.

I am enjoying your blog! Thanks again for the link. Have a great day (or evening)! :)

[Reply]

3 Kelly the Kitchen Kop 10.01.10 at 3:27 pm

Hi Andrea,

Wow, I hadn’t seen half these recipes and am thrilled to have new ones to try, I love it!!!

Another tip for your readers: I love making a healthy trail mix to keep in the van for when we’re on the go and want a snack. We include dried fruit, & various crispy nuts and it feels like a feast! :)

Kelly

[Reply]

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