My name’s Rachel and I’m 19 years old. I grew up and currently live in rural eastern Pennsylvania. I’m also the author to the Eco Smart blog. I’m determined to make a change in how and what I eat.
Like with most teenagers, I love pizza and all manners of fried foods. For years I had been buying lunch at school, because I actually thought it tasted alright and all of my friends were eating it. Of course, after elementary school we were not required to buy the standard lunch or pack our lunch.
You could mix and match the al carte items. I remember some of my friends eating one or two “big” cookies, bags of chips, bagels, and complete with a lot of sugar loaded iced tea (soda was taken out my freshman year). The optional breakfast wasn’t any better, offering only bagels, muffins, and the questionable frozen pigs in a blanket.
My friend, that I mentioned, and I are both severely overweight. The summer going into my senior year I knew something needed to be changed. With the recession in hand (lunches cost $3) and my own health to worry about, I decided that I would pack my lunch the whole school year.
I always thought that brown bag lunches were always boring, consisting of a bland sandwich, some chips, and neon colored fruit snack in the shape of Dora. I search all of the internet for tips and tricks on how to pack my lunch. Soon enough I created my own system for packing my lunch. My lunch box consisted of an entree (most often a sandwich, on whole wheat bread, or leftovers from dinner), veggies, fruit, yogurt, a small treat, and water.
I was lucky enough to balance this with a 90 minute gym class which, believe it or not, is optional during your senior year.
Along with creating a healthy lunch routine I learn to make time to eat breakfast before I left or take it along with me to eat before homeroom or during first period. Quickly, bagels, waffles, and even cereal became portable breakfasts.
In the end, the tables were turned when my lunch was envied by everyone at my lunch table.
Even now that I’m transitioning from a high school student to a college student, I still find that I love packing my lunch for work.
Here are a few lunch packing tips:
- Divvy up veggies and fruits the night before or, even better, divvy up a whole week’s worth on the weekend.
- Worry about the sandwich in the morning.
- Place all non-perishables in lunchbox the day before.
- PB and J’s are freezable! Make a few and freeze just in case you are limited on time in the morning. Make with 100% whole wheat, low sugar jelly, and natural peanut butter (Smucker’s is good)
- Replace fruit snacks with fruit leather for a treat. They’re made with real fruit and not as much sugar.
- Add a little variety and invest in a good thermos to pack pretty much anything that’s hot.
- Switch up sandwiches. Try wraps or pitas or other breads (rye, pumpernickel….). PB&J go great on rye or Dark German bread.
- Break from the ‘piece’ of fruit to a fruit salad. Cut up any fruit laying around the house and add 1 tbs lemon juice and 1 tbs water.
- No time to make fruit salad? Keep a few cans of fruit cocktail around. Strain the juice and rinse with water if the can says in “heavy” or “light” syrup. Dilute if 100% juice is the sweetener.
- Add a small container of light ranch dressing for veggie dipping.
- Let kids help pack so you know what foods they’d want. Give them categories to pick from.
- Invest in a aluminum or stainless steel water bottle. Fill with juice in the morning and have him/her fill up at the water fountain when they run out.
- Buy a large container of yogurt instead of the smaller ones. They can mix in cut up fruit or granola.
- Don’t forget the golden rule of packing lunch. Keep cold things cold and hot things hot.
Sites for ideas
“15 Fresh Brown Bag Lunch Ideas”
“School (and Work) Lunch Ideas”
“10 Ideas for Packing a Healthful School Lunch”
“Pack School Lunches with Punch”
The Brown Bag Lunch Cookbook
I credit my good grades that year to a good on-the-go breakfast and a healthy lunch. What are your own lunch ideas?