The Cheapest and Healthiest Brown-Bag Lunches

Contributor
Spice up your midday meal with delicious dishes and filling snacks

Thinkstock / Fuse

Your brown-bag lunch doesn’t have to be boring and unhealthy.

Eating healthy is easier said than done, especially when you’re bored at work or tempted by chocolate-flavored everything. You can make it easier on yourself by putting a fun and interesting twist on healthy foods with just a few simple tweaks.

Click here for The Cheapest and Healthiest Brown-Bag Lunches slideshow.

If you are new to packing a lunch or want to make healthy changes to your meals, familiarize yourself with all of the nutrient-dense foods you can eat. You want to stock up on fresh produce, and if you are close to a local farmers market, doing your shopping there will make your wallet happy. You can also save money by having dinner leftovers for lunch. Cooking multiple servings could provide meals for a few days and save you time overall.

We spoke with registered nutritionist Joy Bauer about inexpensive and healthy meals and snacks to pack in your lunch so that you won’t reach for empty calories. These foods will also give you more energy throughout the day, so that you avoid opting for unhealthy snacks out of boredom.

Air-Popped Popcorn

Aurelie Jouan

Swap this microwavable popcorn with homemade air-popped popcorn.

A healthy lunch calls for delicious snacks. “Popcorn is a whole grain that’s low in calories, but let’s face it, you must doctor it up with some seasonings or flavorings,” Bauer says. “I add a little pop to my popcorn with a sprinkling of Parmigiano-Reggiano, cinnamon, or even a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.”

Cook Once, Enjoy Twice

Thinkstock / IngridHS

Make this chicken and vegetable stir-fry for dinner.

Add ingredients to make another serving of your recipe for dinner — that way, you can have leftovers for lunch. “Make something like chili or chicken-veggie stir-fry,” Bauer says. “Depending upon what you prepared or ordered for dinner, your delicious lunch could potentially be filled with protein, fiber, and healthy fats.”

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