Healthy Brown Bag Lunches

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Joined: Dec 13
Posts: 7

Posted: 29 Jan 2014, 11:32
Here's the challenge: ANYTHING BUT PB&J!!! I'm on a college kid's budget and I'm at school/work all day. I don't have much time to prep in the mornings (building a sandwich and throwing it in my backpack is all I'll wake up for!) But freezing things in advance is okay because I have access to a microwave about half the time. What are good meals I can spend Sundays prepping that will last the week, are healthy, stay good in room temp for AT LEAST 5 hours, and are inexpensive to prepare? If I eat another turkey sandwich I'm going to have to give up on lunch! Did I mention that I'm poor???

All the websites I find for brown bag lunch ideas have ridiculous and unrealistic stuff, like avocado (which clearly goes bad fast) and paninis that need prepped that morning (I refuse to spend the 6 o'clock hour making food. Just no.)

I appreciate all your ideas! Thanks for spicing up my week day lunches!

Joined: Jan 14
Posts: 5

Posted: 29 Jan 2014, 11:47
Have you tried Justin's almond butters? They're sold at Walmart, right next to the peanut butters. It's a little pricey for a jar (about $5), but a jar will go a LONG way to making a lot of sandwiches. I love the stuff! It comes in all kinds of flavors, and they even have little individual packets. So you could make an almond butter sandwhich on wheat bread and take a banana. Or you could do a sliced apple dipped with it.....or something like that. It's healthy, and it's different.

Joined: Jan 14
Posts: 5

Posted: 29 Jan 2014, 11:52
Another quick lunch you could make the night before is Asian salad. Mix together one bag of broccoli slaw, plus one package of ramen noodles (raw, crunched up, without the seasoning packet), and a little bit of canned pineapple (if you like pineapple), and a little Asian salad dressing (enough to coat the broccoli slaw). And then you can sprinkle sunflower seeds on top. This makes at least 2 servings, and it does not go bad if you leave it out for a few hours. This is cheap. Broccoli slaw is about $1.30 a bag at Walmart, and the other items are not expensive either.

Joined: Jul 10
Posts: 1,712

Posted: 29 Jan 2014, 12:06
Make your own hummus, then portion it out with some pita and a bunch of raw veggies- I've used peppers, celery, carrots, sugar snap peas, broccoli..... If you buy dried garbanzo beans, it's really inexpensive plus you can flavor it however you want. I've read that it makes a better texture than canned beans and I would agree!
- Natalie

Joined: Mar 11
Posts: 1,585

Posted: 29 Jan 2014, 12:33
If you cut up your veggies ahead of time and have them ready to go, you can throw together a quick wrap in the morning. Close to a sandwich I know, but you can put different veggies, cheeses, salsa, hummus, or anything you want on them. Most things you make if you keep them in a bag with an ice pack or something should keep for a few hours before being microwaved, or take them out of the freezer and pop them in your bag and they'll thaw but be ready to be heated at lunch time. I make occasionally make enchillada casserole and I can portion it, freeze it, and then heat it up at lunch time when I want it. Also, what about soups. You can bring a container, a can of low cal, low sodium soup and microwave it in a couple of minutes.
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Joined: Dec 13
Posts: 7

Posted: 29 Jan 2014, 13:12
Great ideas everyone! I've been afraid to try making hummus on my own, but practice makes perfect! I think I'm definitely going to try that Asain salad; I think adding chicken or ground turkey would be awesome, especially as filling for a lettuce wrap. I have brought canned soup in the past, as well as a homemade cabbage-veggie soup, but after a half a week of it I get sick of the all "liquid" diet. I guess it's all about finding a good way to add variety, which I struggle with on a tight budget.

Thanks for all the great ideas!

Joined: Jun 13
Posts: 23

Posted: 29 Jan 2014, 13:17
I usually make salads. It is quick and easy especially if they don't need to be cut up (cherry tomatoes, carrots, bean sprouts, grapes etc.) I make lunches for myself, both my parents, occasionally my sister and it is done in about 5-10minutes. If you prep the night before there is no need to worry.

Leftovers are always a plus! But I agree with the above as well, soups and homemade frozen meals are always handy.

Joined: May 12
Posts: 55

Posted: 29 Jan 2014, 14:45
Go to for some casserole dishes that can be made ahead, portioned out and frozen. One that I like is zucchini lasagna. Another idea is make your own hamburgers. I get 6 hamburgers out of a pound of lean ground beef. Then use a whole wheat dinner roll, add a slice of low fat cheese and some bbq sauce/mustard/ketchup. When you pack your lunches, can you take a ice pack along with you to help keep things cool? I also like hard boiled eggs for snacks, unsweetened applesauce, yogurt, or cottage cheese. Good luck!

Joined: Feb 12
Posts: 27

Posted: 01 Feb 2014, 00:12
Since you are on a budget, you want to get things that can be reused. A small lunch tote, little plastic storage containers. Get some they make ice blocks you can throw in the freezer each night, and reuse the next day. You can take a container, and throw some cut up veggies in it. celery, carrots, cherry tomatoes. You can take a tiny container, and put a little salsa in it to dip your celery in. Some fresh fruits travel better than others, slice them for ease of eating. If you are in a rut were you have to have a sandwich, boil and chop up a chicken breast, put a teaspoon of light miracle whip (miracle whip keeps longer than mayo) a teaspoon of mustard, a little celery. Trust me, it's good. You could just make the chicken salad, and dip the celery in it. You could also use tuna.
Philippians 4:13 (RSVCE) I can do all things in Him who strengthens me.

Joined: Jul 10
Posts: 2,052

Posted: 01 Feb 2014, 05:56
There's a whole subculture of people who make "once a month meals"-- they cook everything for the month ahead of time and freeze it. Can you make something like that work for you? If so, you could spend a little bit of time once or twice a month making meals and freezing them, then just grab one of the frozen containers on your way out the door.

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