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20 Sandwich-Free And Healthy Lunch Ideas That Everyone Would Love

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20 Sandwich-Free And Healthy Lunch Ideas That Everyone Would Love

Are you bored of eating sandwiches for lunch? Running out of ideas to make lunch healthy, delicious, and interesting? Trying to reduce simple carbs in your diet? Whatever your reasoning or motivation, here are some convenient packed-lunch recipes to make you look forward to lunch time at work or school and keep your energy up all afternoon. There is so much to choose from – soups, salads, one-pot meals, wraps, noodles or pasta dishes, and more.

1. Egyptian Tomato Soup

egyptian tomato soup

    Homemade soups work well for lunch at work. You can use flavorful, ripe tomatoes when they are in season or make it with canned tomatoes when it’s cold outside — a perfect reminder of summer sunshine and blue skies! You could add some orzo if you are looking for a more filling meal.

     2. Teriyaki Chicken Lettuce Wraps

    rsz_chicken-lettuce-wraps-main

      One of the worst things about carrying a sandwich for lunch at work is that they tend to be either too dry or too soggy.

      Here is a happy alternative in taste and texture — and it’s healthy, too. Lettuce leaves as a wraps work superbly to add crunch. You can use them in place of buns to wrap burgers, too.

      3. Couscous with Raisins, Pine Nuts, and Capers

      couscous

        Inspired by pizza toppings, this vegetarian, flavor-packed couscous recipe makes for a lovely light lunch — and it’s great for lunchboxes. You could add some leftover chicken or lamb to make a more filling option.

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         4. Late Summer Lentil Salad

        lentil salad

          This is a delightful recipe that creates a bridge between the changing seasons. It combines the fresh flavors of summer with the warm, comforting aromas of the soon-approaching autumn. This contrast of a hearty lentil and grain pilaf as the base, with a refreshing fruity Greek salad as a topping, can be served chilled, too.

           5. Kale, Peach and Freekah Salad

          rsz_1rsz_kalepeachtempeh1

            I am not a big fan of kale, but this is a salad I love. It combines my favorite things to eat, namely fruits and nuts, with kale. It works beautifully to balance the bitterness of the kale and the different textures make each bite interesting. The dressing pairs really well to elevate the salad to another level. It’s a wonderfully versatile salad. You can substitute peaches for nectarines, plums, or even mango. Similarly, if you don’t have freekah, feel free to use whatever grains you have at home – quinoa, brown rice, pearl barley, or others you have available.

            6. Vietnamese Spring Rolls (Summer Rolls) with Spicy Peanut Sauce

            viet rolls

              These are so refreshing and light and easy to eat, not to mention a breeze to put together. It’s merely a prep and assembly job with a very satisfying result. You can cut and prepare the filling and peanut sauce the previous night and make the rolls in the morning before dashing off to work. You’ll probably be thinking about lunch hour all morning and I won’t be surprised if they end up as an early snack before lunch! Kids will love these too, and it’s a great way to get them to eat more vegetables!

              7. Quinoa Salad with Cherries and Feta

              rsz_feta-cherry-and-quinoa-saladxxxlarge_2x

                This gorgeous salad makes the best of the summer’s bounty of cherries. The sweet juicy cherries go well with salty creamy feta. It’s great for picnics or brown bag lunches. You can substitute quinoa for orzo or couscous.

                8. Butter Bean & Tuna Salad

                tuna and butter bean

                  This healthy and delicious salad can be made with any beans you have lying in your cupboard – borlotti, cannellini, or a mix of all. I prefer to use tuna in spring water for a lighter version and then I can add in olive oil in the dressing as per preference.

                  9. Skinny Shrimp Stirfry

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                  Quick-Shrimp-and-Vegetable-Stir-Fry_RESIZED-5

                    It has only 195 calories per serving, which includes 16 grams of protein! It’s quick to cook and delectable. It’s perfect for a packed lunch and will be a hit with the kids!

                    10. Moroccan Chicken Salad

                    This appetizing salad uses fiery Harissa to add spice and zest to leftover chicken. The artichokes and ciabatta help bulk up the salad and keep you full longer, helping to reduce the extra calories from snacking too often.

                    11. Zucchini (Courgette) Pad Thai Noodles “Zoodles”

                    rsz_zucchini-pasta-noodle-recipes-10

                      One word – Yummy! Zoodles are a fabulous way to lighten up noodle and spaghetti dishes. They taste amazing and the spices and herbs really makes for a delicious lunch. You could make them the previous day and substitute the prawns for the protein of your choice. If you don’t have a spirulizer, you could use a mandolin or make shavings of zucchini like broad flat noodles using a veg peeler.

                      12. Buddha Bowl

                      rsz_buddhabowl1

                        Buddha bowls, Chirashi Bowls, and rice bowls all work on the same principle of adding layers of carbs, protein, and other toppings and dressings of your choice in a bowl.

                        A Buddha bowl is usually vegan and combines green leaves, starch, cooked and raw veggies, protein, dressing, herbs, and other toppings to add texture and flavor. Whether or not you are into clean eating or are doing a detox routine, or if you just love oriental flavors, you need to try one of these. It’s a wholesome DIY bowl alive with taste and goodness. You can customize it to your dietary preference, even adding meat or dairy protein, like in a Chirashi bowl, and still get the goodness of a healthy lunch bowl that covers your 5-or-more a day.

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                        13. Jam Jar Salad

                        Mediterranean-Quinoa-Salad-with-Summer-Vegetables1

                          Packed lunches often lose out on presentation because they are often hastily put together as you dash for work. However, the latest trend of carrying your lunch in a jam jar is a fun, cool way to eat salads with little effort on your end other than assembling it. This fun colorful rainbow salad not only looks appetising, but is very healthy and filling. Cook the quinoa the previous night to cut down on prep time. Layer it in a Mason jar to carry it to work and impress all your colleagues.

                          14. Thai Red Noodle Soup

                          Thai-Red-Curry-4

                            I love Thai red curry and I love noodle soups. This fabulous recipe combines both and is gluten free. It can easily be knocked out in just 20 minutes. Brown rice noodles are used in this healthier version, but you can substitute any kind that you prefer. You can make the Thai curry paste ahead of time or use one that comes from a packet. You can even try this recipe with Tom Yum paste instead of green curry.

                            15. Tortilla Rollups

                             
                            tortilla roll ups

                              These are great fun, very kid-friendly, lunch-box friendly, and incredibly versatile when it comes to fillings. Use a whole-wheat tortilla for a healthier option and spreads like hummus or avocado-based spreads. I like to add a lot of veggies to make it light, refreshing, and wholesome.

                              16. Mini Sweet Potato and Ricotta Frittatas

                              Mini sweet potato and ricotta frittatas

                                Frittatas are a great alternative to sandwiches and the kids will absolutely love them. This one is made lighter using ricotta instead of cheddar or parmesan and no cream. It’s packed with veg and the mini sizes are perfect for school lunchboxes.

                                17. DIY Salad

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                                rsz_salad_deliciouslly_ella

                                  One of the main things you can do in order to make packed lunches easier to put together in the morning is meal planning. An hour’s cooking on a weekend is all you need to keep your week moving smoothly. You can batch roast veggies, pre-cook grains like quinoa, make dressings like hummus in advance, and just assemble it all in the morning. Check the link for some great tips and lovely vegan recipes.

                                  18. Quick Fried Rice

                                  Brown-Fried-Rice-with-Chicken-and-Vegetables-The-Lemon-Bowl

                                    Fried rice is a popular, kid-friendly lunchbox recipe. Make it healthier by loading it with veggies and using brown rice for a wholesome version. I often use a mix of red, brown, and wild rice — my family adores it.

                                    19. Spicy Southwestern Tabbouleh

                                    tabbouleh

                                      You can prepare the bulgar wheat and salad dressing the previous night and keep it in the fridge. I often use stock instead of just plain water to cook the bulgar and add more flavor. In the morning, some light chopping and assembling and a no-stress delicious lunch is ready. Substitute the cheese for any protein of your choice.

                                      20. White Chicken Chili

                                      chicken-chili-DSC_5917-640x425

                                        A wholesome comforting bowl of chicken and bean chili makes for a lunch you’ll look forward to in the winter. The heat from the green chilies and spices with the mellow chicken broth are just what you need to brighten up a dull, wet, and windy day. Fortify yourself against colds and the flu with the goodness of this chicken soup. You can make a large batch and freeze half for another time.

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                                        Last Updated on November 22, 2021

                                        Thanksgiving: It’s About The Simple Things

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                                        Thanksgiving: It’s About The Simple Things

                                        Thanksgiving, a day of pure gluttony, football, and possible uncomfortable situations with family members that you may or may not like. Oh, yeah, and the whole “know and reflect on what it is to be thankful and grateful.”

                                        During the holiday season many people forget what this time of year is bout and are too worried about getting the “early-bird” deals on Black Friday and making sure that they have the perfect gifts for their loved ones. I am sort of a “Grinch” when it comes to the holiday season, mostly because of that mentality by many of the poeple around me.

                                        But instead of being grinch-like this holiday season, I decided to simplify things and get back to what this time of year is actually is about; being thankful for what I have and what I can give.

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                                        Simplify

                                        I’m not a “minimalist” in any real sense, but in the last few months the talks of Patrick Rhone and others have got me to rethink my stance. Can you really have too much stuff?

                                        Absolutely.

                                        And with all that stuff comes the burden and the weight of it on your back.

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                                        If you feel that the things around you are out of control, maybe it’s time to simplify and be thankful and grateful for what you have and use. Here are a few things that you can do to simplify:

                                        • You know those gadgets in the drawer that you said you were going to sell? Well, time to get the listing on eBay and sell them. Or, send them to a place like Gazelle. Even if they are old and won’t get money, you can at least recycle them.
                                        • Get rid of things you don’t need. Like old books, clothes, tools, etc. Have something that’s been laying around forever with no use? Donate it to a charity or church. If you aren’t using it, someone else could be.
                                        • Find your productivity tools and stick with them. Use tools and gadgets that serve multiple purposes so you can simplify your tool set.

                                        Be Mindful

                                        You don’t have to be a master Buddhist or meditator to be mindful (although, it can definitely help). Being mindful comes down to being cognizant of the present and not keeping yourself in the past or future. It’s about living in the moment and being aware of yourself and everything around you. It’s just being.

                                        Without getting too “California” on you, it is super important to be mindful during the holiday rush. Rather than worrying about the things that you forgot at your house on the way to relatives or thinking about the next stop in your endless holiday travels, just breath and think about what you are currently doing.

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                                        Spend the time with your family and friends and don’t crush the moment. Try not to concentrate so hard on getting the perfect photo of the “awesome moment” of the day and actually miss the awesome moment.

                                        Being mindful over the holidays will help you be with your families, friends, and yourself allowing you to enjoy your time.

                                        Reflect

                                        As the year is coming to a close (yes, it really is that close!) it’s a great time to start reflecting on what you have accomplished and what you haven’t. Within the next few weeks we will have a more throrough reflection article here at Lifehack.org, but reflecting every now and then over your holiday break is a great way to see where you have been doing well in your life and where you need to improve.

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                                        Reflection shouldn’t be used to “get down” on yourself. Reflection should be used to take an honset inventory of what you have accomplished, how you handeled situations, and what you can do better. If you journal everyday (a daily form of reflection) it may be a good time to start going over some of the things that you have written and start to put together a year’s end journal entry. I mean, how else will you write your autobiography?

                                        But, seriously, reflecting on yourself makes you aware of your successes and faults and helps you plan and make goals for the coming year. It makes you a better person.

                                        So, while you are stuffing your face with bird, stuffing, and mashed taters’, remember that the holidays are much more than the superficial things. Use this holiday to become a better person.

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                                        Featured photo credit: Libby Penner via unsplash.com

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