Ok so I'm a college student, like many of you out there. When I go to school if I want to bring a lunch it has to be something that I don't have to refrigerate. Well, from my own uncreative brain the only things I can come up with are some fruit and sandwiches.
Do any of you guys have good ideas for interesting healthy meals to bring that don't require microwaving or refrigeration? I'm tired of sandwiches and an apple. And it's especially hard when I know I could just toss the inexpensive sandwich to be replaced by delicious....pizza hut...or chick-fil-a or wendy's. (My school is almost void of any sort of health food).
That's rough not having a fridge or microwave during the day! I can't think of anything off the top of my head for meals that don't require those, other than to say try to make your packed lunches more interesting. For example, I'll buy low-fat chips to have w/ my sandwich so that it's more like a "normal" lunch rather than depriving myself entirely.
Also, don't automatically rule out the fast food. Chickfila's grilled chicken sandwich is only 290 calories and 4 grams of fat. I know it's harder to choose that than the yummy nuggets and fries (trust me I know lol!) but maybe having a break from the packed lunches on some days would help keep you motivated.
I worked at a University for a couple of years, without a fridge or microwave I was willing to use. A thermos is a wonderful investment, and there are many fancier options like a Ms Bento for hot/cold foods. You can put your food into pretty much any bag with an ice pack, or a frozen bottle of water and it'll stay cool for quite awhile. Are you looking for low calorie, low fat, low carb? I tend low-starch, so these suggestions are biased that way.
There's always "salad with a protein", but that can get a little old, too.
Baked chicken fingers and veggie sticks with dip. They're remarkably good cold, and if you like fish, you could do fish. Pork works, but I only really liked it with very lean pork, like tenderloin, and I'd rather eat that other ways.
Peanut (or sesame) noodles with protein (cooked shrimp, pork or chicken) and veggies (bell pepper, celery, carrot, scallion, cucumber, thinly shredded cabbage, etc). You can use a whole-grain noodle (brown rice or whole wheat) and the amount of peanut butter or tahini gets stretched with broth and other ingredients.
Hummus or baba ganoush and veggie sticks (with pita if you're so inclined)
Yogurt with stuff - plain yogurt, fresh or dried fruit, nuts, seeds - whatever I had around that looked good that day.
Beans and rice in a thermos (Mexican black beans and rice, Cajun red beans and rice, Indian lentils and rice. Brown rice keeps its texture better with white.)
Soup or stew in a thermos.
Even if it's a sandwich, change it up. Slice some baguette super-thin and crisp it in the oven - at lunchtime top it with a mixed-salad-style filling (tuna salad, chicken salad, vegetable salad). Another day stuff a pita with fresh vegetables, chicken and a sprinkle of feta cheese. Then make a Vietnamese-style bahn-mi - grilled meats, pickled vegetables, fresh cilantro and hot peppers. Or a flatbread sandwich stuffed with tuscan kale, pickled peppers and ricotta salata.
Bean salad - black beans, corn, tomato, green onion, cumin, lime juice
Three-bean salad - with vinegar dressing
sweet potato salad - roasted sweet potatoes and onions with a squeeze of lemon juice
Cottage cheese with an intensely flavored veggie salad to put on top
quinoa salads (pretty much anything you could do with couscous can be done with quinoa)
Slices of fritatta
I'll also agree with the idea to find some better alternatives at the school, so you can skip a day of your own cooking once in awhile. A small chili and a side salad once in awhile isn't the end of the world.
Do you like chickpeas? Chickpea salad is easy - 1 can chickpeas, EVOO, lemon juice, onion flakes, parsley (dried is fine), and a jar of marinated artichoke hearts, drained. It's also good with shredded cheddar added. If you want some starch/crunch, have it with pitas, pita chips or triscuits. I actually prefer it at room temp.
Lost the first 100 with Medifast, now working on the last 25
My daughter has an insulated lunchbox and I put a freezer pack in it every morning to keep her foods stable. The freezer pack is still semi frozen by the time I put it back in the freezer each day at 5pm, so that's a great option.
Sometimes I will eat a baggy of nuts as the main component of my meal. If you get some of the lightly flavored ones (where they don't really add to the calorie count), you could eat 250-300 cals of nuts, then have a small fruit and some carrot sticks with it. Lots of fat and protein to keep you full!
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