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5 tips for packing delicious and healthy lunch

Two female students eating food in the Quad

Eating lunch will keep you smiling all day long.

With the school year in full swing, many of us find ourselves away from home during lunchtime. Whether we are in class, at work, or en route to an appointment or meeting, the lunchtime hour can sometimes be a toss-up resulting in a missed meal or a less than stellar lunch.

The easiest way to ensure a healthy, tasty, and energizing meal that is sure to power you through the afternoon is to pack your own! Packing a lunch can sometimes seem like a daunting task between finding the time to prepare and pack and figuring out what to pack—but it doesn’t have to be.

Here are some easy tips and lunchtime ideas to help make “brown bagging it” a breeze.

  1. Invest in a few reusable food containers and an insulated lunch bag to help keep your food cold and reduce waste.
  2. Plan ahead and get organized on the weekends. Make a meal plan—decide on what you’d like to eat for the week. Shop for groceries and lunch supplies to avoid extra trips to the store midweek
  3. Make dinner do double duty. Double a recipe to ensure there are leftovers for your lunch box. Repurpose leftovers—top a salad or brown rice with leftover chicken, steak, etc.
  4. Prep and pack in advance. Make your lunch while you are preparing dinner or right after you eat. You’ll only do dishes once and save time in the morning! Knock out a week’s worth of lunches on Sunday, and you’ll be ready to go all week long
  5. Think outside the (lunch)box. Spice up a basic turkey sandwich with sweet crunchy apple slices and Swiss cheese. Bring a salad—try packing it in a mason jar! Package up last night’s leftovers on a bed of spinach or use as filling in a wrap. Create a bento-style lunch with a little bit of everything: try nuts + cheese + crackers + grapes + baby carrots. Make a pot of soup and pack a cup or thermos full, along with a slice of hearty bread for a warm, satisfying midday meal

Packing your lunch not only saves you money, it helps you eat healthier and is better for the environment too!

Schedule a nutrition consultation

Health Promotion and Wellness offers free, individual diet analysis and nutrition guidance for those striving to improve their lifestyle. Faculty, staff, and students can meet one-on-one with the Health Promotion and Wellness nutritionist in a confidential setting at no cost.

Participants need to complete a three-day food diary and a health questionnaire available online prior to their nutrition consult. Forms may be returned via email to, by campus mail to 2120, by fax to (309) 438-5003, or by hand delivery to the main Health Promotion and Wellness office in 187 McCormick Hall.

Health Promotion and Wellness also provides presentations for campus groups and organizations. Please call our office at (309) 438-WELL (9355) to request this service.