Meal Planning 201: Brown Bag Lunches

By Bridgette Clare, RHN on September 10, 2015 , categorized in In the Kitchen, Plant-based Nutrition

Meal Planning

Meal Planning 101 was all about the basics and now we have lunchtime covered with easy brown bag lunch tips. Don’t worry, these lunches are far from boring, and will have you embracing the brown bag.

1. Kick It Old School

Enjoy a twist on a schoolyard classic with this protein-rich chickpea Vegan Tuna Salad that can help you feel full.

Kitchen Tip: Keep it Cool

No one likes a soggy lunch. This chickpea salad serves 4-6 so prep it ahead of time, pre-portion it, store it in the fridge and take only what you need for that day. Then when 12PM hits grab your chickpea salad, your bread (or lettuce wrap) and serve together. Have a fridge at work? Perfect. Take the entire pre-portioned recipe with you, keeping the bread (or lettuce wrap) separate and keep it cool at work.

2. Mason… Not Just Another Name for a Bricklayer

Mason jar salads are beyond versatile. Get back to routine the easy way with Mason jar lunches. Boring salads no more, try this Mason Jar Sesame Soba Noodle Salad or get your fiesta on with this Taco Salad in a Mason Jar.

Kitchen Tip: Keep it Together

There’s nothing worse than opening up your bag to find your lunch at the bottom of it or finding it covered in dressing. Salvaging the remains of your lunch from the bottom of your bag? No thanks. Avoid that by using jars that have a tight seal and adding your dressing to the bottom of the jar, then topping with the rest of your ingredients. Bonus – this also prevents your salad from getting soggy and makes mixing a breeze.

3. Let Leftovers Happen

In fact, make them happen. Just like prepping your ingredients ahead saves you time at dinner, save yourself even more time in the morning by making extra dinner the night before. That way you’ve got instant lunch for the next day. We recommend batch cooking recipes like this Better Beans and Rice recipe and refrigerating the leftovers.

Kitchen Tip: Keep it (Food) Safe

Leftovers are a real time saver but don’t skip the step of wrapping and refrigerating them. Properly stored foods can help to prevent or slow the growth of bacteria that can cause food-borne illness. Most properly covered leftovers are great in the fridge for three to four days and in the freezer for up to three months. We recommend dating your leftovers so you know exactly how long they’ve been around for. Trust your gut with leftovers. If they were left out for a questionable amount of time or in the back of the freezer since who knows when it’s best to toss them2 U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (n.d.). Retrieved August 29, 2016, from http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm093704.htm .

4. Roll With It

Roll up your lunch and keep the summer vibes going with light, rice paper roll like these versatile Summer Rolls. Treat rolls like you would any sandwich, add in any of the chopped veggies you have on hand and make your roll your own.

Kitchen Tip: Brown Bag it In Style

Now that you’ve decided what you’re having for lunch it’s time to accessorize. Don’t limit yourself to shoving lunch in your purse or trying to balance it bag less with everything else you need to carry.  We love to use our re-usable grocery bags for lunch. Who says they need to be limited to the grocery store anyway. If your last sweater purchase came in a great bag why not use that?  If you have kids keep on kickin’ it old school by borrowing one of their lunch bags (bonus if it’s insulated).

5. Sweet Treat

Top off your lunch with one (or two) of these  simple, slightly tart, No Bake Lemon and Cashew Cookies or go for a piece of this sweet sensation, Strawberry Rhubarb Coffee Cake. Both recipes will make enough for a few snacks. If you’re looking for a snack to satisfy those mid-day munchies ASAP grab a Vega® Snack Bar or snack with more protein with the Vega® Protein+ Snack Bar3 Contains 11% more of the Daily Value for protein than Vega® Snack Bar. Protein content of Vega® Snack Bars is 5g (4% DV) per serving; Vega® Protein+ Bars is 11g per serving. . Whichever bar you pick, rest assured they’re a tasty snack with no prep required!

Kitchen Tip: Snack Smarter

Being prepared with snacks sets you up for success. If you have something nutritious on hand you’re less likely to grab something from a vending machine.Be prepared for when the hunger strikes with pre-portioned snacks. Add them to your lunch bag, keep them in your fridge or store stable snacks like Vega® Snack Bar or Vega® Protein+ Snack Bar in your bag.

6. Its 5PM Somewhere…

Shake up your thermos with this Grapefruit Sage Mocktail, or add nutrition with Vega® Greens, Vega® Probiotics or Vega® Vitamins. Feel refreshed, like you’re enjoying a legit cocktail instead of bored with your water.

Kitchen Tip: Enjoy it

Take a moment for yourself. Breathe, sip on this and give yourself time to relax; even if it’s just for a moment.

How do you brown bag it? Let us know in the comments below.

 

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Bridgette Clare, RHN

A Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN), Certified Raw Foods Chef and Vega Product Specialist, Bridgette Clare works at Vega as the Customer Experience Team Lead. Bridgette is passionate about making food fun and accessible. She believes what we eat has a huge impact on how we feel and whole heartedly supports a holistic approach to nutrition. Experimenting in the kitchen, sharing new recipes and enjoying new culinary experiences with friends is what she’s all about. Fun fact: Bridgette is always seeking out fun ways to stay active—trying out everything from circus school to testing out her indoor cycling teacher abilities!

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