How to pack easy “to-go” lunches. Recipes included!

How to pack easy “to-go” lunches. Recipes included!

Busy work schedules don’t always leave enough room to sit and enjoy a proper meal. On those days, it’s tempting to grab something from a drive-thru, but over time that takes a toll on your health and waistline. Frozen dinners are an option, but they’re usually loaded with sodium and preservatives, yet often lacking in taste and satisfaction. Canned soups have the benefit of being easy, but one slip can turn your freshly pressed power suit into a hot mess.

Fortunately, you don’t have to resort to skipping meals. There are packable lunches that can give you the mobility you need with the satisfaction you crave. One thing to remember when you’re eating on the move: simplicity is key.

  • Follow the rule of one. If it only needs one dish, or can be eaten with one hand, or with one utensil, it will likely make a good “go food.”
  • Avoid hot foods. Cold is great, warm is ok, but bypass anything that needs more than a 30 second spin in the microwave. Hot foods are dangerous when speed is your priority.
  • Keep a clean smile. Abstain from blackberries, poppy seeds, or anything else likely to stain or get caught in your teeth.
  • Don’t forget protein. Bagels and other carbs are fast, but protein is what helps you feel full longer, and avoid the dreaded sugar crash.
  • Pack napkins. We can’t emphasize this enough. Even the most coordinated commuter makes mistakes. Always have a backup supply in your purse or pocket.

To help you get started, here are a few satisfying make-ahead recipes that are are balanced, (mostly) healthy, and will give you something deliciously portable for your next hectic lunch.

Roasted Garbanzo Beans and Grapes

Packed with protein and healthy fiber, this salty-sweet meal will fill you up while satisfying your cravings for something to munch. Although best warm, these delicious legumes are tasty at any temperature.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (12oz) garbanzo beans
  • ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • Ground pepper (to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups seedless grapes

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Drain and rinse the garbanzo beans.
  • Lightly dry garbanzo beans with a paper towel, removing any loose skins.
  • Spread the garbanzo beans on a baking sheet and roast on the center rack for 30 minutes or until crispy.
  • Toss with salt, pepper, and oil right before eating.
  • Pair with grapes. Easy substitution: Strawberries.

Chicken and Kale Cups

Pair these brilliant green kale cups with cold chicken slices for a meal that lets you eat your veggies without all the mess.

Ingredients:

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 teaspoon Salt (divided)
  • Ground pepper (to taste)
  • ½ cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
  • 1 teaspoon flax seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • ¼ teaspoon dried red chili flakes (optional)

Directions Chicken:

The relatively high baking temperature and short bake time results in a breast that is both moist and flavorful. If you prefer dryer chicken, lower the temp to 350 degrees, and add 10 minutes to the cook time.

  • Preheat to 400 degrees F.
  • Lightly dry chicken breasts with a paper towel and place them on a baking sheet.
  • Drizzle olive oil over chicken.
  • Sprinkle ¼ teaspoons salt over chicken.
  • Pepper chicken (to taste).
  • Bake 25 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F.
  • Remove from oven and chill in the refrigerator for 1hr.
  • Slice chicken breasts against the grain in quarter inch slices.
  • Refrigerate.

Directions Kale Cups:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Remove ribs and finely chop kale.
  • In a large bowl mix kale, ½ cup parmesan, ricotta, eggs, garlic, flax seeds, shallot, herbs, nutmeg, lemon zest, chili flakes, and the remaining salt
  • Separate mixture into 10 greased muffin cups.
  • Bake 20 minutes.
  • Allow to cool before removing muffins from the pan then sprinkle the remaining parmesan on top.

The Kale Cups and Chicken can be divided into 4 servings and will last 3 – 4 days in the refrigerator.

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Overnight Oats

This delectable meal tastes like a naughty treat, but it’s packed with healthy fiber and will keep you full for hours.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 large banana, sliced (optional)
  • ¼ cup peanut butter
  • 2 cups low-fat milk or almond milk
  • 3 tablespoons chia or flax seeds
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • ¼ cup dark chocolate chips. Easy substitution: crushed strawberries.

Directions:

  • Mix all ingredients except for the chocolate chips in a container with the lid. Refrigerate overnight. Add chocolate chips before eating.

Roast Beef and Cheese Slab Sandwich

This meal is great when it’s chilly or when you need a something substantial to get you through the day.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup red onions, chopped.
  • 4 ounces (1/4-pound) thinly sliced deli roast beef
  • 6 slices smoked provolone cheese
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 sheets puff pastry, defrosted
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon chopped thyme leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Line a baking sheet with quick release aluminum foil or parchment paper
  • Whisk together eggs, milk, and garlic powder and set aside.
  • Roll out one sheet of puff pastry into the baking sheet and spread with Dijon mustard.
  • Layer provolone over the mustard, keeping a half inch margin from the edges of the puff pastry.
  • Layer roast beef over the cheese, followed by red onions and thyme.
  • Reserve one tablespoon of the egg mixture, and drizzle the rest over the onions.
  • Place the second square of puff pastry on top, and fold the bottom half inch of the lower pastry over the top.
  • Gently crimp the pinch the edges together, or crimp with a fork.
  • Slice two or three two inch slits in the top of the pastry.
  • Gently brush remaining egg mixture on top.
  • Sprinkle top with salt and pepper.
  • Bake 25 minutes, until pastry is crisp and golden.
  • Allow to cool for ten minutes before slicing.
  • Pair with sliced fresh veggies or chips for a filling meal.

Green Tuna Wrap

This filling, but not-too-heavy wrap brings the best flavors of summer into a single meal.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can chunk light tuna in water, drained well
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • ½ red bell pepper, sliced
  • 2 large spinach wraps
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon pickle or lemon juice
  • ½ cup chopped sweet onion
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  • In a large bowl, combine tuna, mayonnaise, mustard, pickle or lemon juice, onion, cilantro, garlic powder, salt, and pepper until well mixed.
  • Lay wraps flat and cover with a layer of spinach
  • Line the bell pepper down the center of the wraps
  • Spoon the tuna mixture into the center of the wraps
  • Fold bottom of wrap up one-half inch, then fold the left and right edges of the wrap to the middle.

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