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9 Brown-Bag Lunch Tips for Grownups

WebMD Commentary

These days, it’s not just Junior packing a brown-bag lunch in the morning. There are several great reasons why grown-ups might want to pack a lunch for themselves during the workweek, too.

Packing a lunch can be cheaper than buying lunches at delis or restaurants. Plus, you save time at work when you bring your own lunch compared to walking or driving to a restaurant and waiting in line.

And when you pack your lunch, you also know you are bringing a healthful meal that conforms to any dietary restrictions you might have because of allergies or medical conditions.

Here are nine tips for packing a healthful brown bag lunch that will keep your taste buds tantalized during the workweek.

1. Design an upscale sandwich.

Why settle for your usual sandwich when you can add interesting ingredients? Here are some examples of sandwiches that will wake up your taste buds in the middle of the workday and that you will actually look forward to eating:

  • Roast turkey or pastrami, provolone cheese, avocado served on whole-grain bread spread with olive tapenade (you can buy this already made at specialty markets like Trader Joe’s).
  • Roast beef, vine-ripened tomato or sundried tomato, alfalfa sprouts, and red or sweet onion on a whole-grain bun or bread spread with garlic and herb cheese spread.
  • Grilled eggplant and fresh mozzarella drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette and topped with fresh basil leaves and served on a whole-grain bun or baguette.
  • Smoked turkey topped with sauteed onions and blue cheese on whole-grain bread.
  • Roasted turkey, light cream cheese, cranberry sauce, and alfalfa sprouts or lettuce on whole-grain bread.

One of the easiest ways to give your sandwich a gourmet boost is to use an upscale cheese such as Gruyere, Brie, garlic Jack, or havarti (a semi-soft creamy cheese from Denmark).

2. Include the 3 key components.

The perfect weekday pick-me-up lunch usually contains three key components: 

  1. Special sandwich or lunch entree
  2. Nutrient-rich side dish such as fruits, vegetables, and salad
  3. Something sweet or crunchy-- such as chips, whole-grain pretzels, nuts, trail mix, or yogurt

Pack all three for a satisfying lunch.


3. It's a wrap!

Buy some whole-grain flour tortillas (available in most supermarkets) and you are on your way to making a wrap sandwich. Popular wraps include:

  • Chicken Caesar salad wrap: Top a whole-grain tortilla with some light Caesar dressing, sliced or chopped skinless chicken breast, parmesan cheese, vine- ripened tomatoes, and romaine lettuce leaves.
  • Mediterranean chicken wrap: Use olive tapenade, artichoke hearts, tomato, mixed greens, and grilled or roasted chicken.

Here's how to make a wrap:

  • Step 1: Spread the top of a tortilla with a condiment or spread like Dijon mustard, pesto, olive tapenade, light salad dressing, or hummus.
  • Step 2: Leaving a 1-inch border all around the tortilla, layer on a lean meat or vegetable protein source, cheese, spinach or fresh basil, vegetables, and any other ingredients.
  • Step 3: Fold in the sides of the tortilla about one inch, and then roll it up tightly from the bottom. Wrap your sandwich wrap tightly in plastic or foil and refrigerate up to one day.


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