When I was in grade school, you were always classified as either a “buyer” or a “packer.” The buyers ate the school lunches, which even by government standards seemed to be greasy and appetizing for most children (particularly those that would trade portions of their lunches). The packers ate the sandwiches, snack cakes, and applesauce packed by dutiful mothers or fathers that found this option perhaps a bit cheaper and healthier.
Years later, I find myself a college student that is still in fact a packer. On days that I am stuck on campus all day, I make it a point to pack a nutritious lunch (for me and the lucky boy I live with) so that I don’t go to the Sbarro-like place on campus and eat my day’s worth of calories in the form of one calzone… or those delicious and addictive cookies at Subway. I also do this because it saves me a ton of money in the process.
Many say that eating healthy can be incredibly expensive. While it may be cheaper to purchase a box of ho-ho’s than a bag of organic avocados, I would suggest that it is far cheaper to purchase healthy groceries than it is to eat fast food or restaurant fare on a daily basis—and certainly much healthier.
Many people think drudgery at eating the same packed lunch over and over again. I’m right there with them. However, I certainly do not eat a sandwich every single time I pack a lunch. Absolutely not. Why? Because I own Tupperware. Well, it’s usually knock-off Tupperware, but they are transportable containers nonetheless! Stocking these containers not only opens up the potential for different lunch entrees, but is great for the environment, too!
What does one pack other than sandwiches and fruit, you say? Here are a few things I’ve thrown in containers and enjoyed for lunch:
- Salads of all kinds
- Cottage Cheese and Fruit
Here’s a quick recipe I have for a delicious, healthy salad—as well as a clever way to pack it so that all ingredients stay fresh until lunchtime…
Mexi Spinach Salad
- Black Beans (1/2 can-ish)
- Corn (1/2 can-ish)
- 1 tomato, diced
- ½ Haas Avocado, diced
- Whatever other veggies you wanna throw in there (I love zucchini and green peppers, but whatever you enjoy)
- Throw some diced fresh mango if you’re feeling frisky
- Fresh Spinach
- About 2 tablespoons of your favorite tomato salsa
- About 1 tablespoon of low-fat sour cream
Take a sizeable Tupperware container and fill the bottom with fresh spinach. Then (here’s the trick), you need to put plastic wrap over the spinach and over the sides of the container to make a division. This will keep your spinach from getting soggy and wilted, and can be easily pulled off and disposed of.
Mix the black beans, corn, tomato, avocado, and veggies together. Mix the salsa and sour cream together, then mix with the veggie mixture. This will keep the avocado from turning brown, and eliminate the need to put the dressing in a separate little container (less dishes, yes!). The salsa/sour cream mixture is a great salad dressing for any Mexican-inspired dish, and is really quite healthy.
Once it’s all mixed, put it on top of the plastic wrap, and put a lid on it!
Now you have a lunch that is chocked full ‘o veggies, and is certainly not the same old sandwich. Top it off with a piece of fruit, or a handful of nuts, and you’ll be good to go. Just don’t forget a fork… this is a rather unfortunate situation (I know from experience).
Photo by Clare and James