It’s that time of year again… back to school season! With fall approaching, the flexible summer schedules start to go back to normal and that often means that packing a lunch becomes a part of your daily routine once again.
Whether you’re a student, a teacher or indulged too much this summer, nothing beats having some simple and quick lunch ideas in your arsenal for when you’re in a rush and don’t want to spend $10 on a salad at the local grab-n-go place. These recipes can be whipped up in less than 10 minutes and don’t require much cooking. In fact, a lot of the work can be done ahead of time such as pre-making quinoa and pre-chopping veggies. Add your own personal spin to these ideas with different spices and seasonings, dressings, etc.
Jazzed Up PB&J
Nothing beats the nostalgia of a good PB&J sandwich. But sometimes it’s fun to put a different spin on the lunchtime favorite. Instead of regular peanut butter, try almond butter or a different kind of nut butter. I love using the Justin’s nut butter variations like Chocolate Hazelnut Butter or Maple Almond Butter! You could also switch up the type of bread you use. Normally a whole wheat bread person? Why not try some Ezekiel Cinnamon Raisin sprouted bread? For the jelly, you could use any type of your choosing or cut a banana up into coins and use that in place of the jam. If you REALLY want to take it to the next level, try warming it up by grilling it. You won’t regret it!
I love making quinoa salads during the summer and storing in my refrigerator for those hot days when you don’t want to cook. But quinoa salads are perfect year round too! Make a big batch of plain quinoa ahead of time to have ready in your fridge. Put a fall twist on it by adding roasted butternut squash with cinnamon/pumpkin pie spice, pepitas, beets or fresh apple slices. My favorite combo for quinoa salad is adding roasted pumpkin, tempeh, purple cabbage sliced, pepitas, black beans, and whatever dressing I’m in the mood for that day! Plain balsamic vinegar mixed with olive oil is a great go-to for quinoa salads.
Salads are a great option for a quick and easy lunch when you have a bunch of veggies you want to use up or try different flavor combos. One way to change up your salad is by making it a chopped salad. Add whatever kinds of vegetables you want such as bell peppers, cabbage, cucumber, romaine, spinach, kale, corn, and beets. Using scissors, chop all of the vegetables roughly together and toss. Grab some of your favorite dressing and a protein source such as beans, tofu, or tempeh and you’re ready to go! Chopping the salad could even help your digestion if normal salads make you bloated since many of the fibrous veggies won’t require as much chewing after chopping.
Homemade tortilla chips with bean spread and veggies
Simplicity really is the best option sometimes. If you’re really rushing during the day, try slicing a brown rice or whole wheat wrap up into triangles and bake at 325F for about 7-10 mins (depending on the strength of your oven) to make homemade tortilla chips. Grab some bean spread like hummus or organic vegetarian refried beans to dip the chips in with some sliced up raw veggies on the side. You could also add some of the quinoa salad on the side to make it a bit heartier but this is a great option if you have limited time and need to eat something in a rush that will hold you over for a couple of hours.
Back to school season can be a crazy time of readjustment into a new schedule, starting new classes, and an increased workload. However, with a little planning, you can still stay healthy even when you’re rushing between classes or trying to pull your lunch together in the morning before work.
What are your favorite back to school lunches? Leave them in the comments below!
This blog post was written by Mary Kate Bell. Mary Kate is a full time student at Boston University training for her first bikini competition. She is also a certified Pilates instructor and vegan.