5 PACKED-LUNCHES THAT SAVE TIME
If you’re a working mom or wife, then you are probably in a time — and budget — crunch. These five easy to-go lunches are created with multiple family members in mind. The key is to be able to make the same lunch for everyone, or at least a version of the same lunch so you don’t waste ingredients or money.
The challenge is making it healthy, too!
CHICKEN AVOCADO WRAPS
Wraps are a quick and affordable option and you can also get the healthy ones, like spinach or whole wheat. Wraps usually come in a six pack so this will work for two lunches if you are feeding three. Go to a wholesale grocer such as Sam’s Club and get a whole rotisserie chicken, which is usually around $5. Kroger or Costco has them too.
While it is still warm, pick all the chicken off the bones, shred it with a fork or your fingers, and put it into a bowl. Add mayo, diced celery, spicy mustard and salt and pepper and mix it all together. There is really no measuring to this, just add as much or as little of the spices to get the taste that your family will like.
Slice an avocado and shred some lettuce and begin assembling the wrap. Put down a piece of cheese, whatever you have in the fridge, some of the chicken mixture and then avocado and wrap it up in wax paper. Cut it in half while in the wax paper and put each side of the wrap in a plastic bag and drain all the air so it stays fresh.
Pair that with a side of carrots or grapes and you have a very filling and healthy lunch.
MASON JAR SALADS
Mason jars have multiple uses and you can use them all the time. The most handy are the 24-ounce jars. The key to these salads is not to let the dressing touch the lettuce.
After you decide on the ingredients you would like (five is typically enough), put the dressing in the bottom of the mason jar first. You will need to use a watery dressing like Italian or a vinaigrette. If you would like to use ranch, you may want to water it down. You will not need very much dressing at all — maybe just a couple of tablespoons.
The next layer needs to be something that will not get soggy, such as mushrooms because they are hearty and cheap, but you can also use cherry tomatoes or peppers.
The next layer is diced red peppers. They are sweet and have a lot of nutrients, but you can use any color you like. Add some shredded cheese and some type of meat. You can get deli turkey and cut it into strips with kitchen scissors.
If you do not have kitchen scissors, you must get some, they are a life and time saver!
Last, add lettuce. Use the kitchen scissors again and make the lettuce very small.
To recap, starting from the bottom is the salad dressing, mushrooms, peppers, cheese, turkey and then lettuce. Pack it upright and with a plastic fork and then just shake, shake, shake when you are ready to eat it. Bonus: you get a little work out shaking it to mix it all up!
Pack a yogurt parfait to go along with this one in a smaller mason jar. Layer nonfat vanilla yogurt, granola, blueberries and strawberries then more yogurt, granola and the berries again to get a yummy and easy parfait.
TURKEY AND PEPPER WRAPS
Wraps again? Yes … you need to use the leftover turkey and peppers from the mason jars and the leftover wraps from the first wraps. This one is very simple and very quick.
Make a little mayo, ranch and hot sauce combination, equal parts of each and spread it over the wrap. Layer cheese, turkey, lettuce and strips of the red pepper. Wrap it up in wax paper again and put each side of the wrap in a plastic bag and drain all the air so it stays fresh.
Pair this with veggie straws, which is a type of healthy chip — and stick a veggie straw in the wrap for that extra crunch.
WALKING TACO DIP (in a mason jar)
Get your trusty mason jars out again and put on your sombrero because we are going Mexican! You need a big bag of whole wheat corn tortilla chips — scoop shape — and divide them into baggies. You will use these to dip into your taco dip. Layer sour cream on the bottom, and then rinsed black beans, corn, diced tomatoes, shredded cheese and some left over avocado from the chicken wraps.
You want to make sure you have something between the sour cream and the cheese so it doesn’t get soggy, and corn and black beans is a good barrier. Don’t shake it up, just scoop it out with your chips.
Usually by Fridays we are worn out and ready for the weekend, and not wanting anything healthy. Let the family splurge and have bagel, salami and cream cheese sandwiches. This is very easy and very delicious. Take a plain, sliced whole wheat bagel and put a slim coating of reduced fat cream cheese on both ends. Layer three to four pieces of salami on the bagel … that’s it!
If you want to get really fancy you can use the chive flavored cream cheese. Do a simple mason jar salad with this in a smaller mason jar with just dressing, mushrooms, lettuce and cheese for something healthy, or the mason jar parfait is good with this one, too.
This article was written by Katie Simpson, contributor for The Daily Clutch.