The Best Back-to-School (or Work) Lunches

Whether you're packing lunch to eat in your cube or for your kids to have at school, it's important to find things that are easy, quick and new. And regardless of your best intentions at 7:30am, the key is making something you (or your kids, spouse or cubicle-neighbor) actually want to eat once lunch time rolls around. With that in mind, here are some things you can do to make lunch prep a snap:

1) Plan your dinners with leftovers in mind: Make extra grilled salmon or chicken to add to sandwiches or salads; wrap up leftovers in single servings at the end of dinner.

2) Do some prep work on Sunday: cut up vegetables, seal snacks in individual portions or make a large tub of pasta, grains or bean.

3) Look for new ideas, like these ones:

Power-Packed Salad: Crunch and variety are key to a great homemade salad. Use lots of different-colored vegetables (chopped romaine, diced peppers, cucumbers, shredded carrots, grape tomatoes), add protein (canned tuna or salmon, edamame, tofu cubes) and healthy fats (nuts or seeds, avocado and homemade vinaigrette).

Whole-Grain Salads: Whole grans can be both satisfying and scrumptious, especially as the weather starts to cool. Try this Autumn Rice Salad with Dried Fruit and Nuts or a  Kale and Quinoa Salad.

Wraps & Pinwheels: Wraps can let you get creative with sandwich fillings, like in this Chicken Mango Wrap (pictured above). For kids' lunches, try slicing them up to make pinwheel sandwiches filled with peanut butter and jelly or make these   Veggie Pinwheels.

Bento box-style lunches: If you have one of those cool compartmentalized lunchboxes (or just a few small containers), you can mix and match things like salmon salad, hummus, Greek yogurt dip, cheese slices, crackers, fruit, sliced vegetables and trail mix.

As for which fruit and vegetables to pack, try:
  • Cucumber slices sprinkled with cajun seasoning
  • Jicama or mango spears with lime juice and cayenne pepper
  • Cold edamame in pods, sprinkled with salt
  • Fruit kebabs (sprinkle with lemon juice so apples and pears don't brown)
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