Easy Menu Ideas and Tips for Packing Lunch

These days lunch seems to be in a hurry, thrown together, and overlooked in terms of its importance. Many of us get stuck in a rut of the same old thing every day - day after day. But, lunch doesn't have to be that way, and it definitely doesn't need to be fast food or boring lettuce salads either. With a little bit of planning and some creative ideas every member of the family can have a great lunch every day of the week, even on a budget.

Don't forget the veggies! It's no secret that most Americans don't get enough servings of vegetables per day to maintain a healthy balance. Veggies are perfect for your lunch and you can include them every day without looking like a carrot, I promise.

While carrot sticks are great and delicious, they can get tiresome if you're including them in the lunch box every day. Mix it up and use some other veggies instead. Other great lunch time vegetables include celery sticks, cherry or grape tomatoes, cucumber slices, broccoli, cole slaw and other veggie slaws. (I like broccoli carrot and spout slaw instead of traditional cabbage slaw.)

Of course, after veggies comes fruit in the quest for easy to pack lunch foods. An apple a day might keep the doctor away, but sometimes you want something a little different. Bananas, oranges, plums, nectarines, blueberries, pears, peaches, and pineapple all make great lunch time fruits. Browse around the produce section and have a look at what is fresh and seasonal instead of just grabbing the first thing you come to, which is usually the apples and bananas.

Step away from the sandwich! Somehow the sandwich turned into the thing that seems almost required in a lunchbox. I'm not sure how that happened or why, but you can do so many other things with a lunch. Tuna salad with crackers or in a wrap instead of on that plain old white bread is an easy alternative. You could try packing egg rolls, sushi, pasta salad, leftover pork chops from last night, anything but that peanut butter and jelly sandwich you've been eating every day for the past year.

Don't let packing a healthy lunch frighten you, it's not as hard as it may seem at first and if you include plenty of fruits and vegetables there's very little prep work involved on most days. The wonderful thing about fruits and veggies is they are their own packaging and container, so you're creating less waste as well as saving yourself time and money.

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