Non-Traditional Brown Bag Lunch Ideas

Many people spend extra money on store bought lunches that are only a step above traditional brown bag lunch ideas. What if you had a new outlook on making your own brown bag lunch that surpassed the usual peanut butter and jelly or cold leftover piece of meatloaf? All it takes is a little ingenuity when shopping and preparing to get an out of the box, non-traditional creation.

1. PBJ Just Left the Building

Peanut butter and jelly has been a staple for the quick and dirty brown bag lunch since as far back as most can remember. However, over the years, peanut butter has been associated with more and more people’s allergic reaction prompting it to be banned in many school and business cafeterias. To remedy this takes a quick and simple change that can also end up being more nutritious.

  • Seed Spreads: These are just as delicious and offer minimal or no allergy concern. Seed spreads can be found as sunflower, tahini, hemp or flax. The most common and easiest to find is sunflower.
  • Nut Butter: If allergies are not a problem you can still switch up your choice by looking for almond, cashew or walnut butters.
  • Jams: Jelly and jams can be loaded with unecessary sugars, including high fructose corn syrup. Look for Polaner jams, as they have no sugar and are made solely from fruit. There is also apple, pumpkin and date butter as an alternative to jam. 
  • Bread: Change up your bread choice for your new non-traditional lunch. Sprouted breads are filled with protein and fiber, offering a nutty savory taste. Look for the the Food for Life, Ezekiel brand. Other bread choices that go well with these combinations are pecan or walnut raisin, whole wheat or spelt bread.

2. Pairing the Unexpected

Mixing up ingredients can turn an ordinary brown bag sandwich into a delectible feast.

  • Slice chicken into strips, stuff into a pita with spinach salad, red onion and a light dressing.
  • Spread hummus onto olive bread, add tomato and chedder cheese.
  • Slice cucumbers or apples and place on a baguette with cream cheese.
  • Make or buy fried eggplant, put on a ciabatta roll, add romaine lettuce with store bought or homemade pesto sauce.
  • Try avocado slices on a hero roll with teriyaki marinated beef slices and a light honey mustard.

3. Bangin’ Beverages

Skip the soda or sugar laced teas and brew up some innovative beverages that will give your brown bag lunch some real zest.

  • Try brewing some unique teas like peppermint, mandarin or raspberry, add stevia (a natural sweetener) or a little honey. Transport in a clean Snapple bottle or thermos.
  • If you have a juicer, blend up some carrots and apples for a nutritious lunch beverage.
  • Yerba mate’ tea is an excellent substitute to coffee because it carries botanical caffeine that offers a calm energy. The company Guayaki has dry tea bags or prepared formulas with infused vitamin and herbal supplements. 
  • Get a juicer and combine carrots and apples, adding some fresh ginger for kick.

4. Snacks

Transport to a new dimension with these snacks tossed into a zip lock bag:

  • Frozen grapes
  • Cashews, almonds, roasted pumpkin seeds and cranraisins
  • Dried mangos, strawberries and blueberries
  • Muesli granola mix

Go Beyond The Bag

Many innovations have come along since the paper sack. Try carrying your lunch in the Zojirushi Mr. Bento lined stainless steel lunch jar or a gel-cooled bento box.


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