Quick & Easy Brown-Bag Lunch Ideas for Grown-Ups

March 02, 2016 Quick & Easy, Slow Cooker Tips

There's something about being an adult with a thoughtfully packed lunch that really rocks my world. It helps me save time, money and calories. Leaving the house with noontime nosh in hand makes me feel like I totally own my day. So, after I cover brown-bag lunches for the kiddos, I make a point to pack midday meals for my husband and me.

Each day brings something different, but the food we use to refuel halfway through is always important. Here are my best tips for quick and easy lunches that work wherever I happen to be.

" ... lunches that work wherever I happen to be."

On the Road When I'm out and about all day long, the temptation to drive through a quickie lunch line is ever present. But while the convenience is undeniable, the healthiness is arguable at best. This Moroccan-inspired pita recipe is one of my all-time favorites for lunches on the road. Full of spice-kissed protein and fiber, plus bright flavors, it gives me the power I need to get home. Pita pockets offer limitless options for stuffing, and their portability makes them car friendly.

With a Friend Sometimes I sneak away for lunch with a friend. I look forward to these days all week long, as I treasure any time I get to spend with colleagues and confidantes. It's important that our time together not be taken up with orders and table service.

For lunches with friends, I like to pack this easy burrito recipe. Savory black beans, Mexican-spiced chicken and kicky green onions roll up to be satisfying without leaving us stuffed. Plus, they're easy to make in multiples in the morning (or even the night before) — one for my husband, one for me and one for my lunch mate.

At My Desk Some of my favorite brown-bag lunches are the quiet ones I spend in front of my computer. It might sound crazy, but I get the most done when everyone else is out of the office. My level of efficiency alone invigorates me at times like this, but a lunch packed strategically for an afternoon energy surge takes me to another level of gratification.

This tuna salad recipe is my go-to for solo lunches in front of the screen. I make two batches at a time so I always have it in the fridge for easy packed lunches. I can eat it with a fork, a short stack of whole-wheat crackers or rounds of homemade baguette toasts. No matter how I choose to enjoy it, it keeps me from hitting any afternoon slumps and feels a little indulgent at the same time.

On a Deadline Never is a mindfully packed lunch more important than on a deadline. It needs to fill me up to keep me focused, and it needs to provide a bit of diversion in a small amount of time. Because just the hint of comfort food can inspire afternoon greatness, a potato is always what I pack for midday meals when on a deadline.

I like to bring all the fixings and take a few minutes to assemble them as the potato spins around in the microwave. Four minutes will do the trick, and then I transform it into this loaded baked potato recipe with baked beans, cheddar, sour cream and chives. In the time it takes to enjoy the piping hot masterpiece, I am recharged enough to show that deadline who's the boss.

If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, lunch is the most powerful one. Undoubtedly, it is the difference between a productive afternoon and a less-than-stellar one. And a cleverly packed brown-bag lunch is the surest way to nail it.

*Tip: Looking for more lunchtime inspiration? Check out our guides to light, satisfying weekday lunches and delicious one-bowl lunches.