Soup to go. One of our favorite take-alongs is to heat some soup and put it in a thermos. There’s something about having that hot soup that satisfies, especially now that the weather is turning cooler. Just the other day we filled thermoses with bean and bacon soup, added crackers and peanut butter and bananas, and we were off. It was a simple, yet satisfying meal that lasted all afternoon.
Leftovers? Another one of our favorites is rather funny: yes, leftovers—and actually, my husband gets the credit for this—he has access to a microwave at work, and will take all sorts of interesting containers to make a wonderful meal. But I know that’s not most men’s idea of a good lunch.
One great way to use those leftovers (such as one or two sausages or a baked potato), is to make an omelet. Sauté them with some oregano and a dash of soy. Or turn it into an egg sandwich by toasting the bread and adding a bit of mayo.
Wrap it up. Try using tortillas instead of bread—from whole wheat to chile and pesto-flavored, flour tortillas can liven up many a filling. Or how about some new fillings in those wraps: egg salad, tuna salad, feta cheese, fried or broiled tofu, black beans, a different kind of lunch meat—and top with lettuce, tomato, avocado or sprouts (use what your family likes best!).
Salads. Over the weekend make a large pasta or bean-based salad, and then pack containers of this along with pita bread or cheese and vegetables. A large bowlful can last several days, and if you add a side of chicken or tuna salad, you can give it a different twist for consecutive days. Or pair it with thermoses of different soups daily.
Swap side dishes. Try pairing soup or sandwiches with a variety of sides, and each day will be different:
* Vegetable sticks with a small container of salad dressing for dipping
* Fresh fruit
* Celery sticks filled with cream cheese or peanut butter and raisins
* Crackers—plain or with peanut butter, cheese or cream cheese
* Cheese sticks
* Dried fruit
* Fruit leather
* Nuts—or make your own nut mix: almonds, raisins and chocolate chips are a tasty combo
Tried & true. And if you decide to stick with that good old stand-by, the sandwich, remember to vary the fillings. Whether it’s meatloaf with American cheese or Ham and Swiss on rye, there are many ways to jazz it up. Perhaps even step beyond lettuce and try pickle slices, black olives, marinated veggies. Have fun and experiment. While I’ve included some of the ways that we pack lunches, I’m curious—what does your family like to pack for lunch?