Brown bag lunch ideas for kids and adults
Buying lunch and healthy eating often don't mix.
- A typical deli sandwich is oversized and loaded with fat.
- A bag of chips usually has unhealthy hydrogenated fats and empty calories.
- Soft drinks have no real nutritional value.
School lunches aren't always so great either. It depends on the day.
Taking lunch to work or school -- also known as "brown bagging " -- gives you control over fat and calories. And it's usually less expensive.
These sandwich ideas -- all on whole grain bread, pita, tortilla or low-fat crackers -- should keep you from getting bored with the brown bag scene.
- Add zip to tuna salad. Try using low-fat cottage cheese instead of mayonnaise. Add chopped apples and grated carrots. If you like curry dishes, add dash of curry powder. Tuna tastes great on crackers.
- Liven up peanut butter sandwiches. Sliced bananas are a great addition to a peanut butter sandwich. Instead of banana, try apple and a little cinnamon.
- Dress up chicken salad. Add apple, pineapple, and a mixture of mayonnaise and yogurt seasoned with curry powder to chopped chicken. Take pita bread with you and fill it with the salad just before eating.
- Make the most of hard-boiled eggs. Slice the eggs, and spread the bread with a little mayonnaise and some spicy mustard. Add lettuce or chopped watercress.
- Choose lean luncheon meats. Add low-fat cheese, spinach, sprouts, onions, tomatoes or cucumbers. Leftover meats like grilled chicken breasts from a previous meal are good, low-salt alternatives to packaged lunch meats.
- Go vegetarian. Start with low-fat cheese and pile on fresh veggies like sliced peppers, greens, tomatoes and avocado. Hummus and pita bread with veggies and low-fat cheese also make a healthy sandwich.
Don't forget to add a serving or two of fruits and vegetables to make a complete lunch.
An occasional treat also adds appeal to a brown bag lunch. Try low-fat pudding or a few chocolate kisses.
Reviewed by: Rachel Baar, MS, RD, LD, clinical nutrition manager, Mercy Hospital
First Published: 08/01/2000
Last Reviewed: 01/22/2010