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Healthy Lunch Recipes and Ideas

Updated on September 24, 2020
melody-thacker profile image

Mom, grandmother and packed lunch expert. I love cooking and baking delicious things.

Sandwiches Don't Need To Be Boring.

Bacon, egg, cheese, tomato and avocado sandwich.
Bacon, egg, cheese, tomato and avocado sandwich. | Source

What's For Lunch?

We eat lunch every day but it doesn't seem to get the attention it deserves, like breakfast or dinner do! This is probably because most people aren't home at lunch time, they are at work or school so they pack a lunch or buy one. The run of the mill soup and sandwiches soon get boring and purchased lunches can be unhealthy not to mention expensive! So, if you are looking for healthy lunch recipes, money saving ideas or want to beat the packed lunch blues you'll find that here and more.

Ideas for a healthy, well balance lunch!

Are you wondering what to include in a healthy, well balance lunch? Here are some ideas to get you started!

  • Protein - fuels you for the long haul as it digests slower. Proteins are foods like; meat, cheese, yogurt, eggs, beans, legumes, peanut butter and milk.
  • Vegetables - provide you with important nutrients, include several servings of raw and/or cooked vegetables in your lunch.
  • Fruit - include one serving of fresh, canned or frozen fruit.
  • Starch - include one to two servings of bread, pasta, rice or other starch, preferably whole grains.
  • Beverage - milk, real fruit juice or water is best. Herb tea is another good choice for any age.
  • Extras - condiments, sauces, dips, pickles and treats all add some pizzaz!

The Lunch Poll - Your opinon matters!

What do you do for lunch?

See results

Healthy Lunch Choices

Healthy Lunch Choices
Healthy Lunch Choices

Money Saving Lunch Ideas

For Back to School, Work or Everyday

The reality is, buying take out, fast food and even hot school lunches can become quite expensive. Using the hot school lunch program as an example; you can figure on average it costs $2.10 per day if you include milk with the meal. Now, if you have three children, $6.30 a day, multiplied by five days and that's $31.50 a week just for lunch! While it maybe convenient for parents, it can also be expensive! Add in the cost of two working parents both buying their lunches and the cost goes through the roof! So, I'm going to give you some excellent money saving lunch ideas.

First of all, forget about take out, fast foods or those pre-made lunches in a cardboard box and go with homemade!

The thermos is back in style! What could be more green and trendy than this handy, reusable vessel for keeping foods and beverages at the right temperature? I remember when it was cool for my kids to bring a thermos to school. My oldest daughter had My Little Ponies and my son's was Nascars.

Thermos Tips: Preheat the thermos by filling with boiling water, then empty it before adding the hot food. Prechill with cold water and a few ice cube for cold foods. This way, your hot food should stay warm and your cold food will stay cool until lunch time, four hours later. To clean and deodorize a thermos; add a tablespoon or two of baking soda and fill with boiling water. Let stand until cool, empty then wash in soapy water, rinse well and let air dry.

Leftovers make great thermos food. Make sure you get a wide mouth, shorter thermos. You could fill it with soup, stew, casseroles, chili, and even spaghetti. Another idea is to fill the thermos with taco or sloppy joe filling with the cheese already added. Then put a bun, hard taco shell or a soft tortilla into the lunch bag. Plan ahead, cook extra and you'll always have something good to eat for lunch.

Naturally, you could also serve cold lunches in the thermos too. How about potato salad, tuna salad, pasta salad, or fruit salad? Or fill it with antipasto, hummus, or a variety of meats and cheeses. Don't forget about celery and peanut butter or crackers and cheese. Wraps or roll-ups go over well, too. Put the filling in the thermos or try these different variations: Cream cheese spread on a slice of salami, with a sweet pickle inside; or instead of rolling up a slice of salami, roll up a tortilla that is stuffed with ham and shredded cheese.

It only takes a little extra thought to come up with some fun, tasty and healthy meals that will make you and your family members the envy of the lunch table. The object here is to save money and ensure your well thought-out, healthy lunch doesn't end up at the bottom of the trash can.

Note: recipes for some of the above mentioned can be found below.

Five Packed Lunch Ideas

Packed Lunch Ideas


Beat The Packed Lunch Boredom

With these healthy ideas!

I know it's not easy to keep coming up with healthy and fun lunch ideas. No wonder most people tend to pack the same foods over and over again. So just how do you avoid packed lunch boredom? Here are some simple ideas to spice up you or your child's lunch box.

Change the Bread - Or don't use bread at all! Everyone can get bored with sandwiches so why not try the same fillings but make it a little more exciting by changing the bread. You can try pitta bread, bagels, tortilla wraps or even crackers or breads ticks. Look for whole grain versions. You can place the fillings on the side and your child can assemble the crackers or sandwiches themselves.

Try a Salad - But not your typical lettuce and tomato salad, who would get excited by that? But instead try a pasta salad or potato salad. Cook and drain the pasta or potatoes and mix with a little mayonnaise or olive oil, add some cut up veggies such as corn kernels, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots; add some sliced turkey, chicken or ham and place in a thermos or plastic travel container.

Fun Shapes - On the days where you go for the traditional sandwich try cutting the bread with fun shapes using cookie cutters. You can also cut slices of cheese or ham into fun shapes. Cookie cutters are something every mom should make good use of. You'll be amazed at how a boring cheese sandwich will get gobbled up when shaped into a flower or dinosaur.

Everyone Likes Fingers Foods - Sometimes kids, especially younger ones, don't like to eat a whole sandwich or bowl of food. Instead you can try preparing cut up cubes of cheese, grapes, carrot sticks, pretzels, mini crackers, and ham cubes. Place in a container with individual compartments or just a standard one for a fun lunch. You can also try cutting sandwiches into small rectangles or triangles for easier eating. These are handy for eating when you have to have lunch at your desk too.

How About Pinwheels Anyone? - Instead of sandwiches try pinwheels. Cut the crust from two slices of bread, flatten bread using the back of your hand or rolling pin. Spread thinly with cream cheese. Place one slice of ham and roll each slice into a log shape. Wrap in cling film and place in freezer for about 30 minutes. Unwrap and cut into pinwheel rounds.

Just Dip It - Kids love dipping stuff and so do adults. For an easy and nutritious lunch snack you can cut apple wedges and serve with a strawberry or peanut butter dip or cut up veggies served with a hummus dip or try a cream cheese dip. For a more substantial lunch add pieces of whole wheat pita bread, breadsticks or crackers.

Be a Creative - Think outside the box, the lunch box that is. Pack mini pizza slices, mini hamburgers, meatballs or chicken drumsticks. Add some potato wedges on the side. Or try tortilla chips with strips of cheese, turkey and sliced tomatoes on the side. Add a sour cream and/or guacamole dip for instant lunch time nachos, perfect for older children or teens.

Bake It - bake some savory muffins using chopped, cooked bacon and chives or grated cheese and ham. Sweet fruit mini muffins will be a big hit too.

EASY 5 Minute Lunch Recipes

Fun Lunch Box Notes

Include fun notes with their lunch once in a while to put a smile on your loved one's face. A simple note with a smiley face saying I love you can instantly make a someone feel special. For older children or adults give them a riddle or brain teaser instead.

© 2014 melody-thacker


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