Brown bag lunch ideas for kids and adults

brownbag imageBuying 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.

Source: Health Online, Inc.
Reviewed By: Rachel Baar, MS, RD, LD, clinical nutrition manager, Mercy Hospital
First Published: 08/01/2000
Last Reviewed: 01/22/2010