Are you ever excited to eat what you packed for lunch? Whether you’re eating at the office or in the school cafeteria, lunch can be fun! Personally, I cannot eat a sandwich or salad every single day so I have found some great recipes and ideas for lunch time.
The key components of a meal include protein, grains, vegetables, fruits, and dairy. It can be very hard to get all five of the major food groups into your lunchbox, however it is not impossible. Pinwheels are a great idea because you can customize them to suit your needs. The tortilla counts as a grain and you can fill them with deli meat, vegetables, cheese, and even fruit. The pinwheel recipe below has a grain, protein, vegetable, and dairy.
Ham and Cheese Pinwheels
- 2 large tortillas, look for “burrito size”
- 4 leaves lettuce
- 10-12 slices deli ham, 1 small package
- 8 slices cheese
- 4 tbsp cream cheese
- Lay the tortillas flat and spread about 2 tablespoons of cream cheese on each.
- Next, layer the ham onto the tortillas.
- On top of the ham, add lettuce.
- On top of the lettuce, add on the 4 slices of cheese to each tortilla.
- Roll the tortillas tightly and slice into 2-inch sections.
- Use a toothpick or reusable food picks to secure each wheel.
- Eat immediately, store in refrigerator, or pack in lunchbox with ice pack.
Pasta salad is another great idea because you can customize to fit your needs! Using your favorite type of pasta, you have unlimited possibilities. For a protein, use cooked chicken, deli meats, or chickpeas. For a vegetable, try bell peppers, broccoli, onions, olives, tomatoes, carrots, etc. Adding cheese can count for dairy! Pasta salad can also be prepared in large quantities to last all week!
Italian Pasta Salad
- 1 lb. uncooked rotini pasta
- 1 red onion, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 1 orange bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 1 container of grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 cucumber, chopped
- 1/2 bottle low-fat Italian salad dressing
- Boil pasta in salted water, according to package instructions. Drain and rinse under cold water.
- In a large bowl, combine cooled pasta with vegetables. Add half of the salad dressing and toss to combine.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours, or overnight. Just before serving, stir the salad and add more Italian dressing, as desired.
Food safety is also very important to keep yourself safe and healthy. Perishable foods including dairy products, eggs, and any kind of meat should be kept cold and eaten within about four hours of preparation. Using an insulated lunch box is the safest way to ensure your cold foods stay cold. If you do not have access to a refrigerator you can use an ice pack or a frozen water bottle inside your lunch box. Keeping your food in a sealed container can help keep it fresh as well.
Packing your lunch can be easy and affordable! By making sure you have all the major food groups in your lunch box, you can keep your energy up to finish out the day. What are some recipes or ideas that you use to pack your lunch?