Lunch Box Makeover: How to Pack for Success

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Happy Monday! How was your weekend? BL and I moved all weekend and I am excited/anxious to get all of our boxes unpacked and the house organized. That being said, there is something very refreshing about cleaning out the clutter and reorganizing. It’s Spring cleaning for the whole house!

Today’s guest post comes from another plant-based RD, Alexandra of Lean Green Healthy Machine. I don’t know about you all, but I am sometimes in a rut on what to pack for lunch day after day. I reached out to Alexandra for some creative ideas on revamping your favorite lunch choices so that they are healthy, easy, and delicious! Whether in the conference room or school cafeteria, these lunch ideas will be the envy of all.

There’s nothing worse than trying to focus in a meeting or successfully run errands while trying to push through hunger pangs. Resorting to convenient fast food will only lead to regret. So when pressed for time or in unfamiliar territory, both your wallet and your waist line will thank you if you pack a lunch. But don’t worry, suppress those flashbacks of smushed PBJs and check out my five suggestions to ensure a delicious and nutritious midday meal:

Tried and True Sandwiches. Sandwiches are great because they are portable and customizable. Whole grain bread, protein source, and fruits and veggies combine for a powerhouse main dish. Think nut butters with sliced banana, hummus with spinach and red peppers, or black bean burger with salsa. Try switching between different breads, pitas, wraps (burritos!), English muffins, and bagels, to keep things interesting!

Salad. Salads are one of my favorites because there is simply no limit to the possibilities! I always end up adding handfuls of everything in my pantry and refrigerator to create a loaded salad. Start with any green leafy base and go wild with the toppings. Think chickpeas, tempeh, lentils, quinoa, scoops of last night’s dinner, sweet potatoes, broccoli, carrots, avocado, walnuts, grapes, apples, raisins…the more colorful the better! When I opt for salad dressing I love using fruit or veggie salsas, balsamic vinegar, or lemon juice.

Soup. With a thermos, even temperature dependent foods become accessible on the go. Soups and chilies are great ways to increase your intake of vegetables. Make a large batch of soup on Sunday and dish out lunch portions all week long! DK’s Sweet Potato Curry Stew, Thai Tofu Soup, or Vegetarian Chili seem like delicious places to start.

Bento Boxes. The bento box is all the rage these days. The variety of fun finger food options is enticing for kids (like healthy lunchables!)…but adults can play too. Fill up segmented boxes or pre-portioned containers with edamame, almonds, blueberries, hummus dip, carrots, cucumbers…turn wholesome snacks into a full meal!

Kebabs. What’s even more fun than lunch in cute boxes? Lunch on a stick. Make some rainbow fruit skewers that brighten up any lunch bag. Pair those beauties with kebabs of tofu, peppers, tomatoes, olives, onions, and mushrooms.

Supplement the main dish with sides of fruits, veggies, nuts, Thin Mint Brownie Bites, etc to ensure you have the fuel needed to not just survive your day, but rock it. Is it lunch time yet?

Looking for breakfast suggestions? See my 7 ways to rise and shine post on Lean Green Healthy Machine!


Alexandra Paetow is the Nutrition Editor for the blog Lean Green Healthy Machine. She is currently pursuing her MS in Nutrition and Education from Teachers College, Columbia University with the goal of practicing plant-based nutrition as a dietitian. Follow Lean Green Healthy Machine on facebook and pinterest.


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  • Melissa Fritz

    So happy for this! I am limited by not being able to eat cold lunch meat and am sick of my PB&J! I am going to try some of these!

    • DK

      Great! It’s fine to think “outside the lunch box” and try new combinations. Let me know how it turns out! :) Alex