Brown Bagging It: 9 New Ideas for Lunch

Stop wasting money buying lunch. We'll introduce you to some great new ideas that will save your waistline and your wallet.
Published April 28, 2016

Most of us started brown-bagging in first grade. The problem is we still make the same boring sandwiches we ate back then. To avoid repetition, many of us buy lunch—an expensive proposition that isn't always too waistline-friendly. Save that pizza slice (or two) for a special occasion. Instead, we'll show you how to make a portable lunch that will be the envy of your co-workers. 

Thinking outside the lunch-box

  • Nothing tastes better than a freshly made sandwich. Bring your (pre-sliced) ingredients separately and build your sandwich at work.
  • Always bring condiments separately—plastic bags and containers both work. Mustard, mayo, tomatoes and chutney won't make your bread soggy when they're added at the last minute.
  • Go outside and eat your lunch in a relaxing space. You'll enjoy it more if you don't eat it at your desk.
  • Keep a bottle of hot sauce at work. It can perk up anything from a sandwich to a salad.
  • Add treats. A bag of Baked Lays® or a few pieces of fresh pineapple & mango go a long way toward curbing your cravings.
  • Buy a nifty lunch box. It'll make any lunch more fun.
  • Every now and then, alternate your sandwich with something unexpected.

Lunch ideas

  • Vary the bread on your sandwiches. Try pumpernickel with turkey, oat bread with tuna, rye bread for a turkey-bacon BLT, and sourdough with roast beef.
  • Try a wrap instead of a traditional sandwich. Wrap a wheat tortilla around roasted veggies, a spinach tortilla around meatloaf or spread a soft corn tortilla with peanut butter and jelly before rolling.
  • Bring containers of dips, such as hummus or baba ghanoush, and veggies like celery and carrots to dip into it.
  • Keep a large bag of salad greens at home, and fill a plastic container with them each morning. Try a different addition each day such as kidney beans, chickpeas, tuna, shredded carrots, chopped hard boiled egg whites, raisins, chopped roasted beets, water chestnuts or cucumbers. The juice of a few lemon wedges will make a simple and snappy dressing.
  • Roast a chicken on Sunday and use it all week for lunch. Shred breast meat and toss with fat-free mayo, curry powder, chopped celery and radishes. Bring drumsticks along with fat-free salad dressing as a cool dip. Boned thighs are great in a corn tortilla with jarred salsa and shredded lettuce. And, chopped leftover chicken can always be tossed with some frozen mixed vegetables. They'll defrost by the time you eat lunch and you'll have an instant chicken primavera salad. A little hot sauce makes a great dressing.
  • Make a pot of veggie chili over the weekend and bring it in a thermos for lunch. Top it with something new each day, such as fat-free shredded Cheddar, chopped scallions, fat-free sour cream, shredded corn tortillas, chopped cilantro, chopped red onion, fat-free yogurt or a squeeze of lime juice.
  • A cored apple or pear, stuffed with raisins and a little peanut butter or fat-free cream cheese makes a fabulous sandwich alternative.
  • Eat in season. Add a chopped peach to tabbouleh in the summer. Add fresh orange segments to a green salad in the winter.
  • Make new and exciting sandwich condiments. Blend jarred pimentos with fat-free mayo for a tasty spread. Mix curry powder into a little mango chutney for a condiment that goes with any meat. Make your own honey mustard without oil and just a little honey. And use sliced fruit, like plums, on sandwiches instead of sugary ketchup.