Have your weekly lunches gotten repetitive? Whether you’re suffering serious sandwich burnout or you’re tired of spending hours on meal prep, it’s time to switch things up with an easy and surprisingly fun alternative – a grown-up version of your favorite childhood lunch! We might not get recess anymore, but there’s no reason we can’t find some excitement with a nostalgic mid-day meal. Adult “Lunchables” style meals come together in minutes, and since there’s no limit to the flavor combinations, deciding what you’re in the mood for might be the hardest part.
What are Lunchables?
Do you remember the exhilaration of opening your school lunchbox and finding a Lunchables? If you don’t, these pre-packaged, charcuterie board-style meals typically included a lunchmeat, cheese, crackers or pizza, and something sweet wrapped up in a small, ready-to-go package.
Though these quick lunches do include protein, they often lack the fiber and nutrients we need throughout the day. Additionally, our calorie, macronutrient and micronutrient needs increase as we age. Experience both nostalgia and a healthy lunch with better-for-you, grown-up “Lunchables” style meals.
Tips for Meal Preppin
Meal prepping might seem like a lot of work, but it only takes a little planning to make your week noticeably easier. Before you plan your menu, make sure you have something to put your lunches in. To get more of that Lunchable-feel, assemble your meal in a divided container. Bento boxes typically include multiple partitioned sections and make perfect lunch companions. Once you have your lunchbox picked out, you can start to plan your menu.
What Can I Put in an Adult Lunchable?
Healthy “Lunchables” meals for adults can be fun and easy to throw together. We’ll walk you through the items you’ll need to pack a satisfying and well-rounded lunch.
Protein is a daily essential that keeps us feeling fuller longer. Focus on leaner protein options to get the biggest bang for your buck. When building your meal, start with two protein options. Here are some great choices for every diet:
- Animal-derived protein options: Boiled eggs, lunch meat, cheese (sliced, string, cottage or cubed), tuna, chicken salad or yogurt
- Plant-based protein options: nuts (walnuts, almonds, pistachios, pecans or cashews), seeds (sunflower, chia, hemp or pumpkin), beans (hummus or roasted), or nut butter (peanut, almond, sunflower or cashew)
You’ll also want to include a carbohydrate, since our bodies use carbs as their energy source. Focus on including a carbohydrate with fiber and also be sure to check the nutrition labels for added sugar content. Here are some great carbohydrate choices to consider for your nostalgic lunch:
- Carbohydrate options: whole grain crackers, bread (whole grain or sourdough), whole grain pita, whole wheat tortilla, granola or cereal
Finally, adding fruits and vegetables is the perfect way to work in some color and essential nutrients. Canned, fresh and dried are all great choices. Aim for 2-4 fruit and/or vegetable options in each lunch. Here are some ideal fruit and vegetable choices for your meal:
- Fruits: berries (strawberry, raspberry, blueberry or blackberry), grapes, melon (cantaloupe, honeydew or watermelon), apples, pears, banana, peaches, pineapple, dates, apricots and oranges
- Vegetables: carrots, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, celery, broccoli, sugar snap peas, radishes, peppers, avocado, zucchini, cauliflower, mushrooms and asparagus
Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes only and not intended to provide healthcare recommendations. For concerns, please see a healthcare provider.