Food Talk And Fabulous Finds - Brown Bag Lunch Ideas?

View Full Version : Brown Bag Lunch Ideas?

06-22-2004, 04:59 PM
I am a brand new member and I need some help. Does anyone have any ideas for brown bagging lunches? I have a terrible time figuring out what to bring to work for lunch. There is no microwave and no refrigerator at work but I do have a cooler I can bring things in to keep. I don't like things like carrot sticks or other veggie crunchies ( celery, etc.) and I get really frustrated trying to figure out what to prepare and take with me. There are nothing but fast food places in the vacinity of work and I don't want to resort to going there, plus, I only have a half hour for lunch anyway. Any low calorie, but filling, suggestions would be greatly greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Jennifer 3FC
06-23-2004, 10:36 AM
Are you just doing low calorie, or are you counting fat or carbs?

Off the top of my head - turkey sandwiches on thin bread with lettuce and tomato slices and some gourmet mustard. MMMMM!

Apples and lowfat/fat free yogurt.

Tuna salad or chicken salad with a viniagrette dressing.

Fruit and cottage cheese or boiled eggs.

Hope these helped!

06-23-2004, 01:03 PM
Thanks for the suggestions Jennifer. I've never tried tuna with a vinigrette dressing. Would you make or buy a vinigrette dressing? Can you suggest how to make or what to buy?
I guess I am more or less just trying to cut calories. I am not on a specific diet. Believe it or not, I have NEVER been on any specific diet in my life and I am 50+. I also don't have a scale and haven't weighed myself in probably 10 or 15 years. I go more by how my clothes fit and over the last couple of years I have noticed an increase in size: from 12 to 14 and I find myself making unwise nibbling choices and meal choices ( Gold Fish, Cheese and crackers, Packaged Pop Corn, etc.) My work schedule is a real problem because I live alone and when I get home from work I am usually famished and exhausted and instead of taking time to cook a healthy meal, I'm too tired so I snack and grab what is convenient.
IF I could eat something nutricious and healthful for lunch and if I could find healthful snacks to take to work then maybe when I get home I could just eat a smoothie with yogurt and fruit or something and still feel satisfied.
What I really need to do is find a way to plan meals around my work schedule so that I make optimal choices that fit into my lifestyle. Any more suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


Jennifer 3FC
06-24-2004, 11:55 AM
I usually just use Newman's Own dressing. If I ever make viniagrette, I usually use olive oil and red wine vinegar. I'm not sure of the measurements - I just pour a dab of each until it tastes right. Olive oil and lemon juice are also good on tuna, and I add diced water chestnuts sometimes.

Maybe you could do yogurts or meal replacement drinks at lunch, and have something in the crockpot when you get home. When you get home, throw some frozen veggies in a pan while you get the crockpot dish on a plate and you have dinner ready in about 10 minutes. If you do smoothies and yogurt at night and cool foods during the day, you're missing fruits and vegetables.

Suzanne 3FC
06-24-2004, 12:23 PM
Cutting back sounds like the perfect option for you! Structured diets are nice and are helpful to a lot of people, but not everyone needs that. I also love that you don't use a scale, and let your clothes guide you :)

Salad and/or sandwich may sound boring to some people, but I love a good salad or sandwich! I like to get creative. Smoked meats, fancy cheeses, flavorful dressings.. If you use high quality, flavor packed ingredients, you can get by with less of them, so you cut calories overall. I love the McDonald's Cobb salad, and it's easy to duplicate at home or in a lunchbox.

I used to pack my sandwich ingredients separately, including putting my mayo in a tiny plastic container, etc, and assemble them before eating. You don't want your sandwich to get soggy, sitting in the cooler for a few hours. V-8 juice is also easy to pack and is surprisingly filling, so it will help hold you over.

Nibble on apple slices in a vanilla nonfat yogurt that you spice up with cinnamon.
I like hot air popped popcorn, though I've never tried to pop it in advance, so I don't know if if would get soft. I used to make it frequently, and would spray it with low-cal butter spray.

06-24-2004, 05:43 PM
I posted this recently on the Alternachicks thread:

Here are some lunch ideas I found at ivillage.

*I would substitute some of the items for the lower fat versions of the same - i.e. low fat cream cheese for regular cream cheese.

10 Change-of-Pace Lunch Ideas

1. Date-Nut Bread with Cream Cheese, Celery Sticks, Whole Apple, yogurt-Covered Raisins, Milk

2. Pasta with Pesto, Cherry Tomatoes, Pear, Milk

3. Peanut Butter and Apple Butter on Whole-Wheat Bread, Banana Chips, Vanilla Yogurt, Orange, Milk

4. Baked Chicken Pieces, Baked Tortilla Chips, Red Pepper Strips, Seedless Grapes, Milk

5. Bagel with Cream Cheese and Tomato, Baby Carrots, Fresh Strawberries, Milk

6. Whole Wheat Ham Sandwich with Mustard and Lettuce, Pretzels, Melon Cubes, Milk

7. Tomato and Mozzarella on a Hard Roll, Whole-Wheat Crackers, Nectarine, Milk

8. Turkey Breast, Sprouts and Honey Mustard on a Sub Roll, Baked Potato Chips, Banana, Milk

9. Hummus and Pita Chips, Assorted Fresh Veggies (Celery or Carrot Sticks, Pepper Strips), Peach, Milk

10. Tabbouleh with Tomatoes and Diced Chicken on Pita Bread, Yogurt, Dried Pineapple Slices and Apricots, Milk

Hope it helps! :)

06-24-2004, 10:25 PM
Thanks so much for all the great lunch suggestions. Today I brought salad makings , all in separate containers, and combined everything on a plate at lunch time and topped with small can of albacore tuna and balsamic vinigrette dressing! Was really yummy....Thank goodness I have a cooler (soft sided) with wheels to take everything with me because with all the little containers, it looked as if I was packing lunch for a party of 4 :lol:
Last night, before bedtime, I blended up my version of a smoothie..small container light peach yogurt, 1/3 c. skim milk, and frozen peaches. I put that in the freezer and took it out this morning to go with me for snacking. Not only was it icey and delicious but an added benefit was that by freezing, the smoothie served as an additional cold preservative along with the blue ice packs.
All your great suggestions kinda triggered my own creative ideas and one more thing I thought might be good is chilled canned tomatoes. Those could be frozen too and taken out to slowly defrost before lunchtime.

Suzanne, thanks for the kind words about my "weirdness" with not using scales. I really honestly don't have any idea what my weight is, and that is intentional because I don't want to get hung up on numbers. That same attitude carries over to age as well. I rarely tell my age because despite peoples' best intentions, judgments are routinely made based on age. It's an automatic thing we all seem to do and I am as guilty as the next one even though I am aware of how we (almost unconsciously) discriminate based on such judgments. Besides, my dearly departed grandmother, who NEVER told her age used to say, "A woman who will tell her age will tell anything!" :lol:


06-25-2004, 09:28 AM
Fresh fruit during the summer, those little string cheese sticks are a good protein source and not really fatty, nuts are too, and one of the things I do is baggie stuff up when I come from the grocery store with it. For example, I bag up servings of pretzel sticks, raisins if you don't buy the little boxes, but you have to watch for raisins as they are HIGH in sugar as is any dried fruit. Anyhow, I try to take one fruit, one protein of some sort, one carb non fruit of some sort like a slice of fruited bread or something and a veggie, though you said you don't like raw veggies and don't have microwave capabilities. Cold soup like guacamole soup, potato soup, or pumpkin soup, which is like dessert kind of for me is always yummy. Have you thought about checking out other businesses in your building to see if you could use their microwave for like soup, which is always good too?


06-25-2004, 11:11 PM
Thanks for the suggestions Faye. Were you talking about the string cheese in the dairy section? I never looked at the caloric content but always imagined it was high. I'll check it out because I like those cheese strips. There are no other businesses in the building where I am so the microwave idea won't work...I stopped by Sam's after work tonight and bought one of those Rotesserie chickens they sell. Had some with French Bread baguette (guess that was bad) for dinner and then had a strawberry yogurt shake/smoothie type things I make for desert. The yogurt is my way of getting dairy and I add frozen strawberries so that I get fruit that way. I use the light yogurt and add a pack of sweet 'n low. Will take some of the chicken to work with me tomorrow ( yes, I end up having to work weekends too!) and Sunday. I don't care much for deli meats as they still taste like lunch meat to me no matter how expensive they are. Maybe I will get this all figured out with all the great suggestions you and others have offered. Wise choices along with variety is the end goal.


06-28-2004, 05:28 PM
There is lower-fat string cheese available. I also sometimes get the Laughing Cow Lite (wedges of spreadable cheese) or Bonbel minis. I get yogurt in quarts and parcel it into smaller containers since I can't find plain in individual containers. Health food stores stock all kinds of individually wrapped items, as well as crackers, chips, nuts, cereal, and pretzels that can be put in snack bags.

Right now all my favorite fruits are ripe so I'm packing those. Cold cherries, yum!

I also mix left-over cold vegetables with balsamic dressing (I like Newmans Light) and let them marinate in the fridge. You can add chopped walnuts, feta, tuna, or chicken for a cold entree. Sometimes I add a little cold w/w pasta.

Congratulations for dealing with the problem before you really have one!

06-29-2004, 10:55 AM
Hi - some things I use are melba toast (top with cheese or egg/tuna salad, peanut butter) cup of soup (I keep box at work), fruit, cheesestring. Bagged salad (makes 2 lunches) with some kind of leftover meat (ususally chicken, pork chop, roast beef).
In afternoon I usually have a cup of tea & a 2 pt snack (cookie, fruit, 2 pt bar) and that keeps me going until supper. When I leave in the morning I have my breakfast, lunch & snack in my lunchbag so everything is pre-planned for the day. I find this helps me with better choices so I don't have to give in to fast food. Hope this helps - good luck.

06-29-2004, 12:21 PM
A small tortilla with fruit butter (no sugar added: you can get it at Trader Joes or Whole Foods, there is a place near my mom's house that makes and sells it fresh), sometimes peanut butter
Thin bread (Pepperidge Farms makes a great oatmeal and whole wheat) with peanut butter or roast turkey or roast beef
Romaine Lettuce and tomatoes with steamed shrip and low-fat feta cheese, low-fat dressing
Fruit, low-carb yogurt (its the only low-sugar yogurt with Splenda, and I'm allergic to nutra-sweet), and water crackers