Easy lunch brownbag ideas

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ray.james
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Easy lunch brownbag ideas

Post by ray.james »

We have started eating healthy and working on cutting eating out and brown bagging lunch rather than cafeteria. Between me and wife, our cooking is covering 2-3 weekdays at home. For a couple of days, I am either pressed for time/no leftovers. So I am looking for ideas like PB &J - simple to make, filling and healthy. I also exercise daily and do 400-600 cals workout(used to be 3 times for week but daily since 1 month )...So a simple PB&J is not cutting it.

My other choice now is is half avocado plus morning star patty from Costco on bread(~500 cals). Seems OK, but I am not sure if I want to eat manufactured food patty once/twice a week.
<Not a huge fan of salads, but ok with bean salads/carb based ones>
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ajr22
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Re: Easy lunch brownbag ideas

Post by ajr22 »

Considering you already indicated you have a Costco membership-I can tell you what I eat almost every day for lunch. I usually prep a few at a time on Sunday. I make a salad with all Costco stuff. I buy shaved Brussels/kale/brocolli salad mix, put in a container, shred a Costco rotisserie chicken (its enough for about 4-5 portions for the salad), half an avocado and one hard boiled egg. Make a oil/vin mix and that's it. Simple, tasty, easy and super Paleo friendly.

It takes some planning on the weekend but it makes getting through the week much easier. I also workout and found the avocado helpful to boost the fat content.

Other snack ideas for work: almond butter and slice up an apple at work. Dip it in. Or even mix almond/p butter with greek yogurt and dip the apple-its like a healthy PB/J (light sugar yogurt)
Andyrunner
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Re: Easy lunch brownbag ideas

Post by Andyrunner »

My standard lunch is:
-PB&J Sandwich
-Yogurt
-fruit (pear, apple, banana, etc)
-Granola bar

Once and a while Ill change it up and buy some cold cuts and sliced cheese. I also have the opportunity to eat this throughout the day. Snack at 9am, Lunch around 11, snack around 1-2. Unfortunately I'm usually starving at 3 so I may hit up the vending machine.
cheesepep
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Re: Easy lunch brownbag ideas

Post by cheesepep »

Throw in yesterday's "leftovers" in a Rubbermaid and be done. Add a banana if necessary.
barnaclebob
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Re: Easy lunch brownbag ideas

Post by barnaclebob »

My standard Work meals are:

Breakfast:
1 cup of milk
either granola bar or fried egg and a slice of cheese on an english muffin. I cook the eggs and slice the cheese sunday night, muffin toasted that morning

Lunch:
Turkey and cheese sandwich, apple, baby bell cheese (costco), beef jerkey. Sandwiches are all made Sunday night.
Its hard to beat beef jerky for a protein source, I've started making it myself with meat from costco to cut costs way down.

My wife makes a bunch of salads and hummus veggie wraps sunday night.

Good choice on changing your diet in addition to excercise. 90% of weight loss is cutting calories to appropriate levels. I recommend using myfitnesspal to track calories.
jpelder
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Re: Easy lunch brownbag ideas

Post by jpelder »

Tasty lunch option for a big appetite is a "hummus boat" (a sort of Levantine layer dip, ripped off of the Lebanese lunch counter in my college town)

Bottom layer: lots o' hummus (preferably super-garlicky and well-pureed, you want it to flow, not mound)
Next: tabbouleh or some form of minced salad greens
Over that: diced onion and tomato
Over that: toasted pita/pita chips (or soft pita if you prefer)
On top: a bit of shredded grilled chicken (rotisserie would probably work)
Eat with a fork and have garlic breath for a week

You could add olives or feta if you wanted. You could make all of these things in big batches to be assembled the night before work, or make up a couple of containers for the week to grab and go.
ChrisB
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Re: Easy lunch brownbag ideas

Post by ChrisB »

We make a lot of do-it-yourself bowls.

We have a 2 1/2 year old that loves grains, roasted veggies and avocado so we almost always have these around. A lot of our bowls are rice or quinoa with roasted veggies and some kind of beans (dried cooked over the weekend or canned), shredded cheese and avocados and/or tomatoes on top. We then throw a sauce on top. Leftover meat or fish may be thrown on if we have it in the fridge.

Sauce Topping:
Takes a little planning in that we like to make unique sauces to put on top. Some sauces we make are chimichurri, pesto, honey yogurt, The Whole Bowl Tali sauce (google it), lemon-tahini sauce. Some of these sound involved but most are throw ingredients in blender, then jar up the sauce. A jar of sauce is usually enough for several bowls.

A good sauce makes a pile of things we need to empty out of the fridge a nice meal. :)

All of these can also be thrown into a tortilla for the days I'm on the run.
joebh
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Re: Easy lunch brownbag ideas

Post by joebh »

Try to think ahead. Make extras. Pack lunch-sized extras in microwaveable containers as you put the main meal away.

Consider purposely making extra for a few dinners and using the leftovers for lunch. Many hot dinners make great cold leftovers or could be microwaved.
Consider making soups/stews weekly. Have it for dinner. Then before putting extras away, dish out lunch-sized microwaveable leftovers for lunch the next day or the day after that.
Chicken salad can be quickly whipped up if you have already saved an extra chicken breast or thigh.
Egg salad can be quickly whipped up if you prepped the hard-boiled eggs the night before.
Tortillas can wrap almost anything (leftover or fresh) as a quick lunch wrap.
If you like veggies but hate to prep them in the morning, do them while prepping an evening meal and put them in a ziplock bag.

I hate making lunches from scratch in the morning. But it's easy to assemble if you prepped ahead of time.
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Re: Easy lunch brownbag ideas

Post by LadyGeek »

This thread is now in the Personal Consumer Issues (lunch).
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chrisdds98
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Re: Easy lunch brownbag ideas

Post by chrisdds98 »

I'm a big advocate of quest bars. they aren't cheap ($2/bar) but they are really filling - tons of fiber and protein, no sugar. great for me since I'm diabetic and have to do low carb.

(http://www.amazon.com/Quest-Nutrition-P ... =quest+bar)
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ray.james
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Re: Easy lunch brownbag ideas

Post by ray.james »

Thanks for the excellent ideas. I have never looked at costco rotisserie chicken that way. I used to buy it only when there is large group of people at home. Also hard egg is a great idea. I will start on them from next week.

@chrisB for roasted veggies, any recommendations on spices? Do you roast them on skillet/grill. I love zucchini/peppers/broccoli. I cannot do raw, so this is must process for me. I have an indoor grill. Do you roast everyday to keep them fresh?

@ chrisdds98 I sometimes get clif/muscle/other bar. But mostly on driving trips or some evenings where I cannot grab a fruit. Will check them out.

Hummus based wraps are really cool idea. Easy to make too. Will experiment them this week.

@Andyrunner, I don't know how you manage it, but for me, a single fruit feels like water especially with exercise. I don't know my past years of sedentary life led to very bad metabolism or :? . I eat almost twice as much and still keep losing weight and hungry most of the time.
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knowsnothing
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Re: Easy lunch brownbag ideas

Post by knowsnothing »

chrisdds98 wrote:I'm a big advocate of quest bars. they aren't cheap ($2/bar) but they are really filling - tons of fiber and protein, no sugar. great for me since I'm diabetic and have to do low carb.
I love these too, but at around 200 calories I would not say they are appropriate for lunch for anyone that is active. I will eat one for a snack though - carb friendly as Chris said,
anil686
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Re: Easy lunch brownbag ideas

Post by anil686 »

ray.james wrote:Thanks for the excellent ideas. I have never looked at costco rotisserie chicken that way. I used to buy it only when there is large group of people at home. Also hard egg is a great idea. I will start on them from next week.

@chrisB for roasted veggies, any recommendations on spices? Do you roast them on skillet/grill. I love zucchini/peppers/broccoli. I cannot do raw, so this is must process for me. I have an indoor grill. Do you roast everyday to keep them fresh?

@ chrisdds98 I sometimes get clif/muscle/other bar. But mostly on driving trips or some evenings where I cannot grab a fruit. Will check them out.

Hummus based wraps are really cool idea. Easy to make too. Will experiment them this week.

@Andyrunner, I don't know how you manage it, but for me, a single fruit feels like water especially with exercise. I don't know my past years of sedentary life led to very bad metabolism or :? . I eat almost twice as much and still keep losing weight and hungry most of the time.
They now sell rotisserie chicken breast meat cubed in a vacuum sealed bag at our Costco - it is back by the chicken and the prepared foods FYI - hope that helps...
livesoft
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Re: Easy lunch brownbag ideas

Post by livesoft »

I had a salad for lunch today after a bike ride that burned about 1300 calories. I have described how to make salads previously on the forum:
http://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtop ... 6#p1009146

One can make them in bulk (say 7 to 10 at a time, put in fridge), as healthy as one wants, as cheaply as one wants, etc. I made 4 salads today and only ate one of them. I put them in separate plastic containers with lids. I did not cut up the whole tomato in the salads placed in the fridge. Instead, I cut the tomato just before eating the salad. That way, the tomato stays fresh for a few weeks.
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Mr Rosco
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Re: Easy lunch brownbag ideas

Post by Mr Rosco »

On Sunday night we mix a few cans of tuna with Greek yogurt, pesto, and parmesan. Then we put it in the fridge. In the morning we put it in a pita pocket.

For a side we put plain Greek yogurt in a cup. Then separately put a topping of flax seed, bran, walnuts, and mini chocolate chips to add when eating . Then throw in an apple and granola bar. To drink we have a low sodium V8.

Once in a while substitute canned chicken for tuna.
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black jack
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Re: Easy lunch brownbag ideas

Post by black jack »

Do you have access to a microwave and refrigerator at work?

I keep a bag of Costco's frozen breaded tilapia fillets in the freezer at work, and heat up one each day. Along with that, several pieces of fruit and a couple handfuls of peanuts and almonds.
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stoptothink
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Re: Easy lunch brownbag ideas

Post by stoptothink »

chrisdds98 wrote:I'm a big advocate of quest bars. they aren't cheap ($2/bar) but they are really filling - tons of fiber and protein, no sugar. great for me since I'm diabetic and have to do low carb.

(http://www.amazon.com/Quest-Nutrition-P ... =quest+bar)
FWIW, quest bars are low in sugar (not devoid of it), but they do have significant amounts of sugar alcohols. Less effect on blood sugar levels, but other side effects. They are very good for "protein bars" and some of the flavors are delicious.
Zb3
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Re: Easy lunch brownbag ideas

Post by Zb3 »

I have chicken breast veges and rice, some almonds, a protein bar and an apple. I buy chicken breast when it's on special cut it into portions bag and freeze it. Will take out to defrost two days before I eat it then cook up each lunch the night before work.
Zb3
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Re: Easy lunch brownbag ideas

Post by Zb3 »

knowsnothing wrote:
chrisdds98 wrote:I'm a big advocate of quest bars. they aren't cheap ($2/bar) but they are really filling - tons of fiber and protein, no sugar. great for me since I'm diabetic and have to do low carb.

I love quest bars but no longer buy them as they are expensive. Choc chip cookie dough is by far the best flavour
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mikestorm
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Re: Easy lunch brownbag ideas

Post by mikestorm »

Andyrunner wrote:My standard lunch is:
-PB&J Sandwich
-Yogurt
-fruit (pear, apple, banana, etc)
-Granola bar

Once and a while Ill change it up and buy some cold cuts and sliced cheese. I also have the opportunity to eat this throughout the day. Snack at 9am, Lunch around 11, snack around 1-2. Unfortunately I'm usually starving at 3 so I may hit up the vending machine.
Very close to mine. When I'm not packing leftovers:
-Turkey& Cheese, RB & Cheese or Ham & Cheese. PB&J fell out of the rotation some years back
-Yogurt
-TWO pieces of fruit. In the rotation: (apple, banana, grapes, clementines)
-Breakfast bar

When I come downstairs in the morning, I start the coffee, and while it's brewing I make my lunch and feed the dog. If I'm hitting on all cylinders, lunch is made and packed away as the coffee brewer beeps.

Breakfast bar is consumed right as I get into work. The rest is eaten for lunch.
stoptothink
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Re: Easy lunch brownbag ideas

Post by stoptothink »

Zb3 wrote:
knowsnothing wrote:
chrisdds98 wrote:I'm a big advocate of quest bars. they aren't cheap ($2/bar) but they are really filling - tons of fiber and protein, no sugar. great for me since I'm diabetic and have to do low carb.

I love quest bars but no longer buy them as they are expensive. Choc chip cookie dough is by far the best flavour
I can not eat them because the sugar alcohols literally make me ill, but white chocolate raspberry and mint chocolate chip. I get bars similar in nutritional content (but that do not taste as good) free from my employer (a health company who does nutrition supplementation on the side), but previously we would buy them 10 boxes at a time from supplementwarehouse because they are convenient for my wife and my daughter prefers them over any candybar for a treat. As cheap as $17/box if you get on their mailing list.
cherijoh
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Re: Easy lunch brownbag ideas

Post by cherijoh »

ray.james wrote:<Not a huge fan of salads, but ok with bean salads/carb based ones>
I have a black bean salad recipe that came from a favorite restaurant (now out of business :( ). This is my favorite covered dish to bring to a summer cook-out. It calls for cooking the black beans, but I just used canned beans. It is basically a chop and dump recipe, and will keep for several days in the fridge. Chill several hours before serving to allow the flavors to meld.

- 2 cans black beans (drained and rinsed)
- 1 can whole baby corn (drained and split)
- 1 can hearts of palm (drained and cut on bias)
- 2 large tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped
- 1 small red onion finely chopped
- 1/3 cup cilantro roughly chopped
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 3 Tbsp lime juice
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Hmm, I think I need to check the pantry and make up a batch this weekend. :happy

I'm also a big fan of rotisserie chicken and like to use for homemade chicken salad. Favorite add-ins are
- chopped celery, chopped apples, and chopped pecans
- chopped celery, almonds, grapes, and pineapple tidbits
- chopped celery, dried apricots, almonds
cherijoh
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Re: Easy lunch brownbag ideas

Post by cherijoh »

Mr Rosco wrote: For a side we put plain Greek yogurt in a cup. Then separately put a topping of flax seed, bran, walnuts, and mini chocolate chips to add when eating . Then throw in an apple and granola bar. To drink we have a low sodium V8.
My favorite grocery makes up yogurt parfaits and charges a top price, but these are easy to duplicate at home. I like to layer fresh berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries), Greek yogurt (to which I add local honey which is infused with vanilla), and a raw granola (lots of seeds and nuts) that I pick up from a health-food store. If you are packing to eat it later, keep the granola separate and sprinkle on the top when you are ready to eat.
JFKtoSFO
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Re: Easy lunch brownbag ideas

Post by JFKtoSFO »

I solved the lunch conundrum with mason jars and a crock pot. I make soups (both healthy and cheap) in batches then freeze them in individual jars, or glass tupperware containers. This way, I'm not eating the same lunch every day, and I can revisit things I made up to 3 months later.
guitarguy
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Re: Easy lunch brownbag ideas

Post by guitarguy »

jpelder wrote:Tasty lunch option for a big appetite is a "hummus boat" (a sort of Levantine layer dip, ripped off of the Lebanese lunch counter in my college town)

Bottom layer: lots o' hummus (preferably super-garlicky and well-pureed, you want it to flow, not mound)
Next: tabbouleh or some form of minced salad greens
Over that: diced onion and tomato
Over that: toasted pita/pita chips (or soft pita if you prefer)
On top: a bit of shredded grilled chicken (rotisserie would probably work)
Eat with a fork and have garlic breath for a week

You could add olives or feta if you wanted. You could make all of these things in big batches to be assembled the night before work, or make up a couple of containers for the week to grab and go.
That sounds amazing. I will have some breath mints to help deal with the garlic breath...but I'm making a batch of this! :mrgreen:
Random Poster
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Re: Easy lunch brownbag ideas

Post by Random Poster »

black jack wrote:I keep a bag of Costco's frozen breaded tilapia fillets in the freezer at work, and heat up one each day.
I'm sure that your co-workers love that...

There are some things that should not be cooked/heated in an office environment. Fish is one of them.
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Re: Easy lunch brownbag ideas

Post by Toons »

Crown Prince Sardines & Triscuits :happy

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Re: Easy lunch brownbag ideas

Post by surfstar »

Random Poster wrote:
black jack wrote:I keep a bag of Costco's frozen breaded tilapia fillets in the freezer at work, and heat up one each day.
I'm sure that your co-workers love that...

There are some things that should not be cooked/heated in an office environment. Fish is one of them.
Agreed! Although it may cause weight loss among co-workers. Fish just doesn't smell good unless you're the one eating it, and even then its iffy a lot of times.
livesoft
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Re: Easy lunch brownbag ideas

Post by livesoft »

Thanks for the fresh posts to this thread. I'm eating the last of the salads I told you about. Although they were made identically on Friday, I added a different "leftover" to each one. Today's leftover is salmon from Sunday dinner. Zap it in the microwave to take the cold edge off and toss it into the salad. Yummy!
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ray.james
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Re: Easy lunch brownbag ideas

Post by ray.james »

Thank you all for all the ideas. I am at work now with lunch :
bread slices - one with hummus, one with guacamole and rotisserie chicken pieces with a tomato/dried cranberries and some nuts.

Will be saving 7-8 bucks today. Thank you Costco.
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Re: Easy lunch brownbag ideas

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MP173
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Re: Easy lunch brownbag ideas

Post by MP173 »

I eat lunch at home about 4 times per week so "packing" a lunch is not important but here are some ideas:
1. Leftovers. Use your dinners as a basis for your lunches. For instance today I had a grilled chix sandwitch based on dinner a few nights ago. I always grill extra. There are also extra brats and pork roast meat in the frig for lunch.
2. Add sides such as cottage cheese, applesauce, etc. Last night we had roasted red potatoes (from garden). These will be used later this week as a lunch side.
3. I add something salty, such as pita chips, pretzels, etc. trying to avoid potato chips.
4. Soups in the winter! Weekends are often when we make soup. Extra soup is used for lunch early in the week for a couple of days.
5. Add blueberries or other fruits to a serving of yogart such as the vanilla (Lit and Fit). Excellent desert.
6. Deli meats make good sandwitche

I concur with the earlier suggestion regarding a calorie counter. These work quite well, but you must be diligent with recording...both exercise and consumption.

Ed
asif408
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Re: Easy lunch brownbag ideas

Post by asif408 »

As MP173 mentioned use your dinners as the basis for your lunches. I usually have a day during the week or on the weekend where I cook several meals and freeze half of them and put the other half in the fridge. I typically pick recipes that are a little more time consuming to make on this day and keep the basic recipes for normal workdays. I use the ones in the fridge for lunch during that week. The ones in the freezer can be used for subsequent weeks and cuts down on the frequency of having to cook meals in the following weeks.

For example, during the week a Costco rotisserie chicken and a 90 second brown rice pack paired with a fresh or frozen vegetable makes a quick and easy meal and works for leftovers as well. I could also whip up spaghetti and a salad in under 20 minutes during the week. On the other hand, I try to cook things ahead of time that might be good in a meal but take up to an hour to prepare (such as cooking sweet potatoes in bulk and freezing them or putting them in the fridge). That way I enjoy some variety of food and don't get stuck eating the same items everyday.

I'll also mention that I'm a "grazer" when it comes to eating (I eat about 6-7 times per day). I keep a stash of miscellaneous raw nuts and seeds in my office desk to snack on and usually keep some fruit in there or in the office fridge. I usually eat the fruit and nuts together for a snack between the main meals. Theoretically, though, if you keep those things around your office you could eat them for in between meal snacks or mix and match them with other foods to make a meal if you wanted.
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