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Wha do you put in your brown baggie?

I really love the What's for Dinner threads. Lots of inspiration. Now I am curious about lunch. Specifically, what are people bringing to lunch? When school starts back this year, I am resolved to bring interesting, nutritious, and yummy lunches that avoid the usual sandwich-leftover-blah salad choices. Also, as a teacher my total lunch time is 25 minutes which includes the walk to and from the cafeteria, inconvenient access to a microwave, and the expectation that I monitor students the whole lunch period. So, what do you put in your brown baggie?

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  1. I am usually really bad about remembering to make things for lunch too! I always either end up eating all the leftovers (and then having to make dinner again) or eating junk food. But--For this week I made this salad and it is really yummy:

    Fruit and Veggie Slaw with Poppyseed Dressing
    1 carrot, peeled and julienned
    1 zucchini, julienned (do not peel)
    1 yellow squash, julienned (do not peel)
    1/2 red onion, sliced thinly
    1/2 granny smith apple, cored, quartered and sliced thinly
    1/2 fuji or honeycrisp apple, cored, quartered, and sliced thinly
    1/4 cup craisins

    Poppy Seed Dressing
    1/4 cup extra light olive oil
    1/4 cup white wine vinegar
    3 tbsp honey
    1 tbsp poppy seeds
    salt and pepper, to taste
    water, as needed to reach desired consistency

    In a bowl, combine the dressing ingredients and whisk vigorously until emulsified. In a separate bowl, combine the carrots, zucchini, squash, and onion. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and toss to coat. Gently fold in the apples, and garnish with craisins.

    My fiance has the leftover crock-pot beef tacos since I am not yet sure if he will eat this many vegetables...Would love to hear what other people are having!

    1. I am desperately in love with this roasted chickpea and kale salad from Serious Eats. It is so unbelievably good. I've been switching up the herbs lately (yes, I make this a lot) because I have fresh basil and parsley coming out of the wazoo in my garden:

      1. I usually take some Greek yogurt with a big spoonful of homemade jam. Plus a banana or some nuts or cheese and crackers.

        1. I eat a lot grain/pasta + vegetables + protein bowls. Variety comes from varying the grains and pastas, vegetables and proteins (fried tofu, chicken, sausage).

          1 Reply
          1. re: jadec

            This is exactly what I do. A half cup of cooked grain, a few pieces of leftover protein from last night's dinner, some vegetables, and some "extras" like hummus, olives, or whatever is on hand. It's heartier than a greens-based salad, and it can be dressed (lightly) in advance, and tastes great at room temperature. Plus you can switch it up every day (grilled chicken, beans, hard boiled egg, tuna, salmon, baked tofu, chickpeas, etc) to keep it interesting. I often prepare my "grain bowl" the night before as I clear up from dinner, which saves me from wasting the odd piece of salmon or scoop of brown rice. Use a Pyrex glass storage container to avoid leaks and for a nicer eating experience than plastic.

          2. I always bring lunch to work--we at least for the past year and a half since I started cooking! But typically it is leftovers--rather I cook on Sunday for the rest of the week's lunches and dinners. This week it is an assortment of Greek themed mezze. Hummus, tabbolah, cucumber salad, chicken in yogurt, pita.

            Next week my doctor has ordered me to try eliminating gluten, and my mind is freezing up about all of my meals.

            1 Reply
            1. re: SarahCW

              You could have made the same mezze just with quinoa in the tabbouleh and using a lettuce wrap or a socca instead of the pita.
              Lots of indian and asian meals are easily made gf since they incorporate rice and legumes more often than wheat

            2. I do my own version of a little bento box.
              I use silcon muffin cups and a sandwich box and place some nuts in one cup some diced meat in another cheese and fruit in another and some choclate chips aand dried crandberries in another.... or eggsalad in one and craackers in one .. you get the idea...

              1 Reply
              1. I end up with an assortment of snacks vs a proper lunch most of the time....
                Roasted chickpeas and dry roasted soybeans are favorites, a savory greek yogurt- mix in chopped scallion and cucumber, lemon juice, black pepper and salt, and i dunk in sliced raw veggies like cucumber, radishes, carrots as scoops. Apple with almond butter, homemade protein balls (kinda like larabars), and sometimes frozen smoothies that end up defrosted by lunch.

                1. I switch between big salads, homemade soups, vegetarian sandwiches, bento box, and protein smoothies. I like a variety and it will also vary depending upon what is in the fridge.
                  To be prepared for rush mornings, I tend to keep: hard boiled eggs, a gallon bag of prepped veg, herbal tea in jars, protein smoothie mix, various veg spreads/dips and homemade pita or crackers and various jars of quick pickles ( cuc's, daikon, carrot, zuc's). Easy to grab and go/ mix and match.

                  1. For a hot lunch, I like to roast a couple pans of veggies at a time (onions, squash, eggplant, broccoli, whatever), maybe with chickpeas, and make a big batch of quinoa, rice or barley and mix it together and store in individual containers. I reheat it for about 3 minutes in the microwave.

                    For something faster, I make some variation of a bean salad. Grab a can of chickpeas, black beans or whatever's on hand, chop up some veggies and season with salad dressing, pesto, salsa, etc. The fastest version of this is just black beans, canned corn and some jarred salsa. Sometimes I add cheese or plain Greek yogurt. Sometimes I do a three-bean salad-style dish with green beans, cucumbers and whatever beans I have in a slightly sweet vinaigrette.

                    My ultimate "I'm too lazy" lunch, though, is a whole avocado that I dice at work and toss with some hot sauce, salt and pepper. Lemon or lime juice too if I have it. Then eat with tortilla chips. (This could probably be prepared the night before using the lemon/lime juice to stop the browning, but I haven't tried it.)

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: hotpie0523

                      I also do the roasted veggie thing--love them! Lately I've been roasting a lemon in with them and then squeezing the lemon juice over the top!

                      1. re: SarahCW

                        Yum! I usually add a little balsamic vinegar for some acidity. Love the roasted lemon idea!

                    2. I generally have leftovers from dinner as my lunch the next day -- often brown rice with a curry (turkey kofta w/kale and chickpeas in tamarind curry, is today). I pack my lunch as i'm clearing away dinner so that it's already done for the morning. I also add some fresh baby spinach leaves on top so that when i heat it up they steam and wilt and get folded into the dish for some more extra greens.

                      Other days this week i've had some leftover spinach/brown rice casserole and oven baked boneless pork "ribs"; jambalaya style risotto with shrimp and andouille with red peppers (this got the same heaping of baby spinach leaves on top to get steamed upon reheating).

                      If i've got some leftover protein from dinner sometimes I will turn it into a burrito bowl with some leftover brown rice, which I always seem to have, canned black beans, salsa, cheese, chopped up chicken, beef, ground turkey taco meat, etc. more baby spinach leaves and any other veggies I want to add. sometimes I bring some sour cream to dollop on top.

                      I also pack some fruit/veggies for snacking during the day -- banana mid morning, apple or pear cut into wedges for afternoon snack. sometimes carrot sticks or sugar snap peas.

                      1. We eat a lot of grilled meats at dinner time. I will typically grill an extra piece and take it in my lunch the next day with some rice and a salad.

                        Today my lunch is sliced New York steak over rice with grilled vegetables on the side, plus a green salad with lettuce tomatoes, and cucumber.