Lunch Ideas: 5 Tasty Brown Bag Lunches

Brown Bag Lunches

Does someone in your household have to bring a lunch to school or work every day?

For many of you, I’m sure the answer to that question was a resounding “yes”.

Packed lunches can get incredibly boring after awhile, if you don’t spice them up every now and again.

Here are 5 tasty brown bag lunch ideas that are inexpensive, easy to make and fun to eat.

1. Fried Rice

This dish can be made so many different ways, according to your taste preferences, and is very easy to cook in large batches. I use this simple fried rice recipe all the time and it’s a huge hit at our house.

Rice is very filling, so you don’t need much of it. Load it up with your favourite veggies and pack a small container of soya sauce and/or hot sauce to add later.

2. Wraps

Instead of going down the traditional sandwich route, try something a bit more fun – wraps! You can put just about anything into a wrap and it’s going to taste good.

Tuna, chicken salad, roast beef – the possibilities are endless!

3. Leftovers

Of course, leftovers are always a frugal option when it comes time to packing lunches for the next day.

I always try to make at least one extra serving of whatever we’re having for dinner each night, so that Richard doesn’t have to buy lunch at work the next day.

4. Salad

I’ve found that many people don’t pack salads in their lunches, and the main reason for that seems to be that they don’t want the salad to get soggy from the dressing.

There’s a very simple solution to that concern – pack your salad dressing separately from your salad! You can find very small storage containers at many discount department or organizing stores, and these work perfectly for things like salad dressing.

5. Pasta

Pasta is one of the simplest and most inexpensive meals to make and it is so versatile. You can make creamy pesto pasta, homemade mac n’ cheese, or even just a basic pasta with homemade pasta sauce.

The best way to prepare pasta for your lunch is to make an extra serving or two (as many as you need) when you make it for dinner. Put the extras away in storage containers and there you go – lunch for tomorrow!

Packing a lunch is not as simple as just throwing a bunch of stuff into a bag and calling it a day. Oh no, lunch packing is a bit more involved than that – well, if you want to actually enjoy your meal come lunch time. It’s not hard, though. I promise!

Following are a few tips for preparing brown bag lunches.

1. Avoid single serve packaged items from the grocery store. Things like cookies, chips, crackers – those can all be purchased in bulk and then put into plastic zippered bags or storage containers. This will save you mega money and you will also do your part in helping the environment, by preventing waste.

2. Pack moist/wet ingredients separately. If you have moist vegetables or condiments for a salad or sandwich – pack them alongside your other food items, just make sure that they are in their own separate containers to avoid sogginess.

3. Don’t forget ice packs and moist wipes. Always include these items in your lunch box/bag. You can find ice packs at many dollar stores and you can find small packages of moist wipes there as well (these really help with greasy or sticky foods!).

Packing a lunch is one of the best ways to save money. Fast food is expensive, unhealthy (usually), and let’s be honest – it doesn’t make you feel too good if you eat it all the time.

I hope that the brown bag lunch ideas above have helped you come up with some new plans for your future lunches!

Please share your brown bag lunch ideas in the comments.

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  1. teachermum says:

    Just some suggestions for those who have lunch-takers who don’t care for sandwiches and don’t have a microwave available…yes I had a son in school for 5.5 years that didn’t like them! Homeschooling was a blessing in many ways…but most especially lunch-packing for him!!!

    A container of cottage cheese mixed with salsa with nacho chips for dipping

    Grated cheddar mixed with salsa as above. Toss in that leftover tablespoon of taco meat from dinner too (husbands love this as well!)

    A cheese string (or similarily shaped hunk of cheddar) wrapped with lunchmeat-Buddig works especially well-hold in place with toothpick.

    A bag of Shreddies and a container of cheese whiz for dipping and making into little sandwiches.

    Cream cheese and pepper jelly with crackers to dip.

    Mac and cheese, spaghetti, soup, chili etc warmed up in the morning and put into a wide mouth thermos. You can also put a wiener in hot water in the thermos and baggie the bun with condiments already on it.

    Hard boiled eggs with salt and pepper in a piece of straw with the ends stapled shut.

    Fake crab sticks sprinkled with garlic powder-yes, he loved those in JK!!!

    Google Bento boxes–I wish I had found those when my kids were in school-they would have loved them-especially the little chopsticks! You can use any container and put ANYTHING in them. My husband is absolutely over the moon with a plain glad container but filled with 10 different bits of anything. Little cupcake papers help separate things. A hard boiled egg, 4 chunks of chicken leftover, 6 green beans, little pearl onions, a dill pickle, an apple cut up and arranged nicely, a few blueberries, red pepper slices, 3 spoons of leftover mac and cheese with blue cheese dressing on top and cherry tomatoes wedged in to keep things from moving (that is the key, pack tightly). Takes only a bit more time but you can get rid of so many bits and pieces and it keeps the meal interesting. Great for kids as everything is in bite-sized pieces and ready to eat-as we all know they do NOT give them time to properly eat at school!

    Somehow, though, I survived 5 years of a sandwich wrapped in waxed paper, and apple and 2 homemade cookies in a brown bag…no fridge…no icepack…and we all lived…

  2. Ashley says:

    Great tips Cassie!

    I’ve wanted to try bento style lunches that teachermum mentioned. It would make lunch look much more appealing.
    Lunches are super difficult for my hubby because he’s back in college again and has soo much stuff to bring to class with him that there’s very little space in his bag for lunch, let alone an ice pack or anything like that. So it’s hard figuring out what he can take that’s healthy, small and doesn’t need to be refrigerated lol.

  3. Maxime says:

    Here’s a tip for packing salad dressing: FILM CANISTERS.
    They are the best! They create a seal and nothing can leak out. Just pop the film canister in with your salad container, and voilà! Perfect salad dressing protection 🙂

  4. Jennifer says:

    Just a quick addition to the salad idea. Instead of pouring dressing in a little container that takes up way too much room, pour it into a snack size ziploc bag. It now fits right into the container along with the salad. Frees up valuable real estate in a lunch container.

  5. Betty says:

    As far as salad dressings go, some bulk stores (not the national brand type) have restaurant size salad dressings you can buy (12 for $3.). You don’t have to keep them refrigerated or in a cooler. Coyle’s country store north of Tillsonburg, Ontario has them (they have ranch, italian, french, & thousand island). I know Metro has “Harvest ?” ranch dressing in small containers you can take with you. Also, Sobey’s sell’s packets of dressing if you buy premixed salad.

    Sometimes after a night of pizza, I would pack the leftovers in my lunch the next day (I used to eat it cold so I didn’t worry about warming it up in the microwave as I find the microwave made the dough tough).

  6. Jennifer says:

    Another great lunch idea all the girls at work do is pita pizzas. We have a little toaster oven and we bring all the fixings in and bake them right here. In a pinch we have used the microwave though. Some use pitas, some use tortillas. Either way makes for a great lunch.

  7. teachermum says:

    I’d say decide what size/shape space dh has available and find a container that comes the closest to it. Lock n Lock has several shapes with the benefit that they don’t leak. The typical bento boxes, 2 containers on top of each other with a lid, are actually quite small, about 3″x4″x6″ or so-really that small! Apparently, packed tightly, the ml size is about equal to the calories, so a 600 ml box holds about 600cal, etc. Of course, it depends on what is packed, the Japanese bentos are more heavily rice based than what I would pack. It would be plenty for my dh and he would grab an apple to go with. Any container would do though.

    I never worry about icepacks for most things-call me a rebel, but was never sick through high school and no one brought insulated lunchbags with icepacks back then…just a brown bag that sat in the locker (or Dad’s on his desk) until lunchtime…freeze a juicebox to pack with one if you are packing more “fresh” type leftovers.

  8. Mrs January says:

    teachermum: Great ideas! You make my lunches sound boring. 😛

    Ashley: I keep hoping to find Bento boxes on Amazon so I don’t have to buy them (Swagbucks), but no luck yet! They are so adorable.

    Maxime: I love that idea! Thank you!

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