novel brown bag lunches?
I oftentimes chow down on combinations like:
apples and peanut butter
crackers and cheese
granola and yogurt
pita and carrots and hummus
I also lunch on Taboule (I get the boxed version and add a ton of fresh parsely, fresh mint, tomatoes, and cucumber)
Saffron rice and black beans - easy to make the night before and it makes at least two lunches. Throw some salsa fresca on top and cheddar cheese, yummmmy.
I have also made a big pot of chili and stored it in separate containers and freeze them, so when I'm in a pinch I just grab one out of the freezer. Same goes for any soup, I suppose!
I just made some really good turkey meatballs with rosemary and feta, with some sauteed kale and roasted tomatoes over whole wheat couscous. I made 3 days' lunch in about 45 minutes. Roast tomatoes are a good thing to make at the beginning of the week and add to everything you make. I like to eat everything at room temperature, for some reason, and these meatballs taste good to me. My only problem is when I keep my lunch at my desk I usually eat it before noon because I have no willpower.
Another variation could be turkey meatloaf sandwiches...?
I make antipasto for myself once a week. We eat lots of hardboiled eggs for salads, so that's an everyday thing, but I buy jars of olives, artichoke hearts, and marinated mushrooms, and put a little bit of each in a tupperware container together with some raw broccoli or cauliflower and red pepper slices. The jars last in the fridge, so you're amortizing the initial cost over time. (Oh gosh, who just got back from the accountant's?) Then another baggie of sliced salami (Busetto's salami and french rosette de lyon sausages, available at TJ's, are both good) and some chunks off the romano or parmesan wedge in our cheese drawer does the trick. A few nuts in another baggie rounds out the lunch. And then I put it on a plate at work, and everyone's very impressed.
My best hedge against buying lunch is a few cans of Progresso or Trader Joe's soup in the desk-- also good for the occasional late night at the office.
My husband and I take our lunches to work almost every single day. I always try to make extra food for dinner so we can take the leftovers in our lunches the next day. Some other ideas are tortillas rolled with beans, corn, salsa, leftover chicken, cheese and lettuce. I stick them in the microwave just long enough to melt the cheese. Add some fruit or carrot sticks and it's a pretty good lunch. Another easy thing is pita with hummus. Slice some cucumber, tomato and maybe some feta cheese to add on top of the hummus. It's filling and fairly cheap. You'll be surprised at how much money you can save by taking your lunch.
You can make a batch of brown/wild or combo rice at the beginning of the week and use throughout for salads.
Southwestern: toss some rice, corn, black beans, jalapeno, EVO, cilantro and cumin.
Mediterranean: add - chickpeas, artichoke, garlic, cucumber and dill and/ mint
Tuscan : add white beans, garlic, onion, parsley and some cubed cheese with a splash of balsamic
You can add cubes or shredded meat or cheese - as another poster mentioned this can be a good opportunity to use reinvent the weeks leftovers.
You could make a couple of Turkish/Middle Eastern/etc. type Mezze dishes at the beginning of the week and bring a bit of each in to work each day along with a pita bread. I usually like babaghanous, bean piyaz (a bean salad with red onion and lots of parsley) and cacik (yogurt, cucumbers and dill), and I add some olives to the containers. Sometimes I'll make a lentil salad with feta cheese. They're fairly easy to make and definitely healthy and inexpensive.
Foccacia - Take frozen bread dough and roll onto a cookie sheet and bake then top with fresh tomato, mozzerella and basil and roasted red peppers then pour a good balsamic vinagrette over the whole thing. Cut into squares. Should be good eating for a few lunches.
Keep a good supply of chicken cutlets on hand they are great hot or cold in sandwiches and salads.
cold soba noodles
chicken ceasar salad
fresh fruit with water crackers and brie
Fresh tomato stuffed with shrimp/chicken/tuna salad
If you have a microwave available to you, having a few things on hand will make your BB a better quality experience:
Get a stack of tupperware boxes of various sizes, and then keep a real dinner plate and one set of matching cutlery at work or school. -Or-
Even better, get a good lunch-sized Corningware container with a lid, it feels and tastes better than plastic, and you will enjoy your BB so much more. It's worth carrying the extra weight to/from home.
One of my favorite BB lunch items-
One-pot couscous. Simmer a pile of sliced mushrooms, finely diced veggies (fresh, or frozen peas), tiny pink lentils (or diced meat), a dash of dried herbs (onion flakes, parsley, italian) in a small amount of broth. When nearly done, stir quickly and add just enough couscous to soak up the remaining liquid. This tastes good hot or cold.
My BB Lunches sometimes consist of a meat/carb/veggie combo. I like doing a chiken with lemon/caper sauce and making some spatzle with it. Broccoli and green beans are a good veg to stick in also. Easy to do if you make it the night before. Thats what leftovers are for!
Hope you have a microwave though.