Quick and Easy Lunch Ideas

Quick-LunchWhether you’re packing a meal for the kids, brown-bagging it to the office or looking for something tasty to make at home, lunch doesn’t have to be a big production to be delicious. Too often, you might skip lunch to save time or money, leaving you feeling sluggish and tired by mid-afternoon. Your body needs fuel for the latter half of the day, and a wholesome lunch is essential. With some planning, you can enjoy varied, healthful and delicious lunches that won’t take a big bite out of your budget or your busy day.

If you think of the typical brown bag lunch as a soggy sandwich and a limp salad, think again. New ideas in portability and temperature control keep foods separate until you assemble your fresh sandwich or salad at your desk. Crisp lettuce, juicy tomato slices and crunchy bacon are perfect on a couple of thick-cut slices of bread, and with the Lunch Cube, you can enjoy a fresher BLT. Each cube has a larger compartment for bread and three smaller sections for toppings and sides. Store the container in the refrigerator or in an insulated tote until it’s time for lunch; then, relish a sandwich as fresh as one you’d make at home.

When making sandwiches, get creative with your fillings, spreads and breads to keep them from becoming ho-hum. Mustard and mayonnaise always work, but if you’re ready for a healthy change, try spreading your bread with hummus or Greek tzatziki. Sweet flavors go well with some sandwich fillings, too; a few slices of last night’s roast pork, for example, take on new depth with a thin layer of tangy mango chutney or cranberry relish. Pita bread, focaccia rounds or sandwich wraps also give your lunches more range without costing you extra effort.Sandwiches offer great convenience, but they aren’t the only option for lunch.

Salads are another delicious choice, and they can be as light or as hearty as you like. A fully loaded chef’s salad with eggs and sliced cold cuts is substantial; a green salad with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing is refreshing. Keeping ingredients separate until just before eating is key to making a great lunch salad. Pack everything the night before and store it in the tote you’ll be taking to work or school for an easy, rush-free morning. An insulated lunch totewith divided compartments is a perfect travel companion.

The best salads have a range of textures and tastes, so think about how flavors will play off one another in the finished salad. If you use a creamy dressing, choose crunchy toppings that will stand up to it. A salad with salty cheese benefits from a few sweet bites such as slivers of pear or dried berries. Did you recently enjoy a taco night? Save some of the meat for a lunch salad the next day. These tortilla bowl bakers give it an authentic touch.Great lunches start with creativity. By using what you already have in your kitchen in novel ways and storing everything properly so that it remains fresh by noon, you can be the envy of your lunchroom.

Image Credit: homemadesimple.com

Pinteresting Picks for August

Every month, we like to look back at what you loved best on Pinterest. It’s a great chance to spot a deal you missed, get fresh ideas for gift-giving or create a wishlist of some of your favorite things. August’s pins included tasty treats, ways to stay cool on sultry summer days and favorites for families with kids going back to school.

Cast-Iron-Skillet-Cookie-Kit
If your pins were any indication, you loved getting creative in the kitchen this August. You’ve pinned cake-pop cookbooks, mixing bowls and some of our favorite baking dishes, but one that popped up again and again was this cast iron skillet cookie kit. Cast iron holds heat well, so using this cookie pan means you leave the oven on for less time – a good idea during the hottest month of summer. It’s the perfect pan for baking your own version of a chocolate chip cookie cake, chewy brownies, a sugar cookie with plenty of space for you and the kids to decorate, or any other sweet treat you might dream of baking. The kit comes with a package of mix, instructions and a ribbon on the handle, so it also makes an excellent gift.

Freezer-Cups
With so many August birthdays, it’s no wonder it was a popular pin last month.When the weather’s hot, few things feel as refreshing as an ice-cold drink. Maybe that’s why our sets of Freezer Cups were big on Pinterest. The double-walled cups are made of freezer-safe plastic and contain a non-toxic gel between the translucent layers. Store them in the freezer, and when you’re ready for a cold drink, pour it into your freezer cup; the frozen gel keeps everything cold far longer than ice inside the cup, and you won’t water down your soda or lemonade. Clear lids screw on and help prevent spills when you take your cup on the go, so they’re great for commutes to school or work. Whether you choose the clear set of four cups or the set with cool blue gel, you’re also making a green choice because these cups are reusable.

Lunch-Cube
August is also back-to-school month, so many of your pins featured student-friendly items. One that made the top of the charts with parents of schoolkids and students themselves was the Lunch Cube, a handy all-in-one kit that holds a sandwich plus three side items. The single compartment is roomy enough to hold even a loaded sandwich, and the divided compartment keeps easy-to-eat tidbits such as raisins and baby carrots separate. Pack your salad ingredients in separate compartments to keep everything fresh; then, combine them when you’re at work or school and ready to eat lunch. The cubes are large enough to hold crackers, chips, fruits and vegetables, so you can vary your menu as much as you like and transport everything in a compact, washable case. You pinned this one often, and it’s easy to see why: It’s as sleek as it is practical.

We will have another round-up at the end of September, so pin your favorites and spread the word. A great time-saver or delicious new treat is too good not to share on Pinterest!