10 BYO Lunch Ideas for Brown-Bag Bliss
Brown-bagging is the new power lunch! It’s healthier, cheaper, and more accommodating than eating out. If you do it right, it’s even more convenient. It’s a whole new age of lunchbox packing, and you’re on the vanguard. Here are 10 super BYO lunch ideas to help you pack a lunch that will not only keep you on track with your fitness goals, but will make you the envy of all your lunching-out colleagues.
- Think outside the bread. Replace your basic sandwich bread with ciabatta rolls, whole-grain demi-baguettes, bagels, or hearty peasant bread. To keep your rolls first-day fresh, buy a dozen, slice them, and freeze them in resealable plastic bags. Take one out at night to thaw and make your sandwich on fresh bread in the morning.
- Switch up your spreads. Mix a little sriracha, a no-salt herb blend, or Dijon mustard into your mayonnaise. Use hummus, guacamole, or herbed goat cheese as a sandwich spread. Try coleslaw, baby spinach, alfalfa sprouts, or spring mix in place of iceberg lettuce on your sandwich.
- Salad days. Salads don’t have to be the ubiquitous iceberg lettuce with a sprinkling of red cabbage and carrot shavings. Make a salad of leftover quinoa, rice, or pasta. Throw in chopped fresh or cooked vegetables; leftover chicken, shrimp, or ham; cheese crumbles; toasted nuts; raisins or dried cranberries; and toss with olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.
- Upgrade your pbj. Take advantage of the wide variety of nut butters available and push the boundaries of this BYO lunch classic. Try almond butter with sliced bananas and strawberries; peanut butter with crispy bacon; cashew butter with thinly sliced green apples and a drizzle of honey. Be sure to weigh or measure your nut butter, though, to avoid eating more than the serving size.
- Pack a desk picnic. Make like you’re enjoying your BYO lunch on a blanket in the park. Pack yourself a wedge of cheese, a bunch of grapes, some roasted almonds, a few whole-grain crackers, a salt-and-peppered hard-boiled egg, and a cold chicken leg.
- Try tapas. Bring olives, a hunk of Manchego or cabrales, some good crusty bread, anchovies or sardines (but be mindful of these in close quarters…you don’t want to make enemies in the lunchroom), and ripe tomato wedges.
- Eat breakfast for lunch. Making pancakes for the kids’ breakfast? Save a couple to sandwich cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese, sliced strawberries, and chopped toasted pecans. Add a small container of maple syrup or applesauce for dipping.
- Wrap it up. Use whole-grain tortillas to add interest to your lunch. Spread a tortilla with goat cheese, top with slices of smoked turkey breast, jarred roasted red peppers, and a handful of baby spinach leaves. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and smoked paprika. Roll up, slice, and secure each slice with a toothpick.
- Deconstruct your sandwich. Bring tuna, egg, or seafood salad in a container and eat with pretzel sticks, pita chips, or cut veggies as scoopers.
- Liquid lunch. Invest in a good-quality thermos and fill it with hot soup, stew, or chili. You’ll be looking forward to lunch all day!
A version of this article appeared originally on Turnstone.