It seems everyone is abuzz with back-to-school talk. All the blogs are full of back-to-school fashion ideas, creating a homework zone, even printable lunchbox notes. As I wondered what to write about this week, I decided to join the craze and talk about …(drum roll please)…school lunches! Can you think of anything more exciting than that?
Well, in all honesty, I’m sure school lunches doesn’t even rate on your list of exciting things. However, I do remember getting a little jazzed up on wiener wrap day. I love hot dogs, and the wiener wrap at my school was covered with a large amount of warm yeasty bread; it was almost like eating a warm loaf of bread right out of the oven. Yum!
Anyway, I digress. Whether you are off to school, off to work, on the go, or eating at home, these lunch ideas are sure to please. You can prep them in advance, and they store well in the fridge for a week.
Here are a few of my favorite make-ahead lunch ideas.
1. Superfood Salad
This is my current favorite. You won’t believe how simple, healthy, and filling it is. I found the recipe on Pinterest, and I am daily thanking Ashley from Living the Better Fit Life for sharing this treat.
Start by cooking up some quinoa on the stove. I used 3/4 cup quinoa and 1 1/2 cups chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the grains have “popped” and most of the liquid is gone.
While it cooks, put about 3 cups spinach or kale in a food processor and pulse a few times until it is in small pieces. Empty it into a large bowl.
Then place your favorite crunchy veggies in the food processor. I used about 1 cup of carrots, 1 cup of celery, and a cup of bell peppers. (I think I’ll try adding a little zucchini or cucumber next time.) Pulse until they are in small pieces. Add these to your bowl of greens.
Once the quinoa cools, mix the quinoa and the veggies together and split into single serving containers. Mine made 5 servings. When I was ready to eat it, I sprinkled the salad with sunflower seeds and drizzled with a little dressing. It was delicious.
2. White Bean and Pesto Salad
• 1/2 cup canned white beans, rinsed and drained
•1 cup tomatoes, chopped
•1 1/2 tablespoons pesto
•1 cup spinach, chopped
Mix all ingredients together and enjoy.
This is a versatile salad. I have eaten it by itself, in a pita, on rice cakes, and as a dip with crackers or pita chips. I usually eat it cold, but it is also good warmed up in the microwave.
Quick tip for chopping spinach: I learned this kind of by accident, but I thought you might appreciate it. Put spinach in a Ziplock bag and place it in the freezer overnight. The next morning, squish the bag between your fingers, and the spinach “shatters” into tiny pieces. Who would have guessed!
3. Spinach & Brown Rice Pie
I found this recipe a long time ago, but it was called Spinach Couscous Pie. While I liked the flavors, I couldn’t stand the texture. Call me crazy, but textures can make or break a food for me. I switched from couscous to white Minute Rice and really liked the change. Eventually, in an effort to make it a little healthier, I switched to brown rice.
This is one of my stand-by lunches because it is a good warm option. Somedays I simply crave a hot lunch. There is something warm and comforting about a hot lunch, and a salad just doesn’t cut it on those days.
• 1 cup cooked brown rice
• 1 cup spinach, chopped
• 1/3 cup lowfat cottage cheese
• 1 oz. lowfat cheddar cheese
• 2 tablespoons egg substitute
• 1/2 tsp chili powder
• 1 tbsp salsa
Combine all ingredients in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave until the cheese melts, about 1 1/2 – 2 minutes.
To simplify my life, I often multiply the recipe ingredients to create several servings. If you’re anything like me, I am happy to eat the same thing multiple days in a row if it means I don’t need to fix something else! Just wait to microwave it until you are ready to eat.
Hopefully you enjoy these quick and simple lunch ideas. They are listed in “good for you” order, with the superfood salad being the healthiest option. Sticking with the school theme, each recipe would earn an A or a B. The best part is that all three require few ingredients, are quick to whip up, and last for a week in the fridge. That must be worth some extra credit!
What is one of your favorite lunch recipes?