It’s that time of year: Back to school.
Whether you are in school or not, there’s something about this time of year that brings routine back to life.
As the lackadaisical days of summer fade away, schedules, to-do lists and preparation for the days ahead ensue, there’s no time like the present to start thinking about the fuel you put in your body (and your kids’ bodies) for the energy needed in your brown bag lunch!
Packed lunches (for school or work) are hands-down the way to go if you:
- want to save money on eating out
- want to put healthy eats in to your body
Did you know that in our public school system, pizza and French fries are considered a vegetable?
(Note: For more info on the absurdities of the foods our kids eat—not only in school, but in general, ‘kid food’—check out the documentary that will be released September 9th on iTunes and DVD, called Fed Up, narrated by Katie Couric– HERE. It will make you think twice about what you feed your kids)
With that thought in mind, we have some fun, delicious (and easy) brown bag lunch ideas for both the kids and you alike!
Move over PB&J, CrossFit Central’s brown bag lunch recipes are here to the rescue!
The ‘bag’ or container.
Of course you can always throw your eats into a classic brown bag, but we also love the Bento Boxes by LunchBots (sold here: or Planet Box with separate containers for storing your foods. You can also find “Bento Boxes” at Whole Foods Market here in Austin. And for on the road or all-day-on-the-go food storage, you can get a simple cooler lunch box and stuff it with some ice packs. Food can last anywhere from 8-12 hours with enough ice packs in there!
Just like any meal, break the components down: Think of having a ‘Main’, a side or two, and maybe a small ‘Dessert’ to top it off, including all three main food sources of course (protein, carbs and fat).
A ‘Main’ could be:
- Leftovers from last night’s dinner
- Chicken drumsticks
- Chicken or tuna salad
- Hard boiled eggs
- Burger patties
- Mini egg ‘muffins’ or frittatas
- Shredded chicken, pork or flank steak
- Nitrate free turkey/ham rollups/salami
- Peeled shrimp
- Ground taco meat
- Paleo chili
Accompanied by sides such as:
- Celery and almond butter
- Sliced peppers
- Salad greens
- Baby tomatoes, mini-carrots and cucumber slices
- Brussels Sprouts
- Steamed broccoli and cauliflower
- Trail mix with nuts, coconut shreds and seeds
And, ‘Dessert’, if desired, is something like:
- Fresh cherries
- A juicy peach
- Honeydew melon/cantaloupe
- Raisins or other dried fruit
- Plantain chips
- A small piece of dark chocolate
- Paleo muffins or homemade Paleo banana bread
Easy as pie (or eggs and bacon), right?
For those who don’t necessarily like to ‘compartmentalize’ things however, here are a few lunch ideas to get those creative juices flowing:
- Lettuce Wraps
Romaine lettuce leaves
Applegate farms sliced turkey/chicken/ham
Fillings of choice: Avocado, mustard, tomatoes, raw cheese (if Primal)
Assemble all together like a wrap and consume.
Apple slices and nutbutter
Baked sweet potato ‘chip’ rounds (homemade)
- Tuna or Chicken Salad
- 1 avocado
- 1 lemon, juiced, to taste
- 1 tablespoon chopped onion, to taste
- 5 ounces cooked or canned tuna (no sodium added)
- sea salt and pepper to taste
Cut the avocado in half and scoop the middle of both avocado halves into a bowl, leaving a shell of avocado flesh about 1/4-inch thick on each half.
Add lemon juice and onion to the avocado in the bowl and mash together. Add tuna, salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Taste and adjust if needed.
Fill avocado shells with tuna salad and serve.
Cooked and chopped chicken breast
Red grapes cut in half
Lots of salt and pepper
Bibb lettuce leaves (you could also use romaine)
Mix the first six ingredients together in a bowl, season with salt and pepper, and then spoon onto lettuce leaves. Roll up and enjoy!
1-2 lbs. ground meat
1 medium onion, chopped
3 tsp rosemary seasoning
1 TBSP dried sage
2 tsp ground coriander
seat salt and black pepper to taste
fat of choice (coconut oil, grassfed butter, ghee, etc.)
Preheat oven to 400-degrees. Line a sheet pan with foil.
In a skillet over medium heat, sauté onion in a spoonful of your fat of choice until softened (about 5 minutes). Let cool.
In a large bowl, combine meat, onions and seasonings.
Form into 2-inch balls and arrange on sheet pan.
Bake for about 20-minutes or until cooked through.
Serve with roasted sweet potato wedges and broccoli.
- Meat & Veggie Kabobs
Make kebabs with your choice of meat and vegetables on sticks. Easy finger food and delicious cold.
- Paleo Chili (make enough for leftovers!)
2 cans good quality canned tomatoes;
2-4 lbs ground beef/turkey/bison
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil;
6 cloves garlic, minced;
1 onion, finely chopped;
3-4 celery stalks, chopped;
3-4 carrots, chopped;
2-3 cups button mushrooms, chopped;
2 bay leaves;
2 thyme sprigs;
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped;
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste;
In a large skillet over a medium heat, cook the ground beef with some cooking fat if needed.
In a very large saucepan over a medium heat, saute the garlic in olive oil.
Cook for about 2 minutes, or until the garlic is fragrant.
Add the onion, celery, carrots and mushrooms to the saucepan. Stir well and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the vegetables are soft.
Add the canned tomatoes, followed by the cooked ground beef. Stir well.
Drop in the bay leaves, thyme and parsley.
Season to taste with salt and pepper, reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for about 4 hours or until thick, stirring occasionally.
Adjust the seasoning by adding salt or pepper, if needed and remove the bay leaves and thyme sprigs.
- The Big Kitchen Sink Salad
Don’t think ‘light salad’ as much as you think ‘hearty goodness’
Spinach or mixed greens of choice
Cold sweet potatoes or butternut squash (made night before)
Mixed veggies of choice (roasted broccoli, asparagus, zucchini, etc.)
Meat of choice (leftover burger patty, chicken breast, steak, etc.)
2 TBSP balsamic vinegar or squeezed lemon juice
You can pack all the items in different baggies until lunch time, then assemble all together and VOILA! Lunch!
- Banana Nut Muffins
4 bananas, mashed with a fork (the more ripe, the better)
1/2 cup almond butter
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup coconut flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with cups. In a large bowl,
add bananas, eggs, almond butter, coconut oil, and vanilla. Using a hand
blender, blend to combine.
Add in the coconut flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda,
Blend into the wet mixture, scraping down the sides with a spatula.
Distribute the batter evenly into the lined muffin tins, filling each about two-thirds of the way full.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Serve warm or store in the refrigerator in a resealable bag.