Packed & Ready to Eat


As we get in the swing of things with kids back to school, it is time to focus on school lunches. Do you remember your school lunch?


I can recall the brown bag lunches my mother would make for me when I was in elementary school. I usually had peanut butter and jelly or a turkey sandwich with a fruit rollup along with an iced tea. Occasionally, my mother would put a baked good in my lunch box also, which was always a nice surprise. And of course, there was always a handwritten note, which of course always made the food taste better. Because then I knew it was made with love. 


Growing up, health was less of concern than it is now and the glycemic index was not even a topic of discussion, as it is largely today. Today, brown bag lunches have health as a larger focus and there is sometimes less creativity. And this can take the fun out of having a homemade lunch. It is time to think outside the box and spruce things up a bit.


What healthy lunches can I eat other than a salad? I will show you 7 sensational ways to make your brown bag lunch healthy, tasty and creative! These are kid tested lunches that I pack 3 of my school-age kids and one toddler at home on a regular basis—and for good reason, they are all delectable!


The Salad Wrap


One of my favorite brown bag lunches is the salad wrap because it is simple to create and tastes great! Just slice up romaine lettuce, tomatoes, and peppers and put this inside a whole wheat wrap or pita. Add a sprinkle of organic skim cheese and enjoy! Pair with a fruit smoothie with ¼ cup spinach, ½ a fresh banana, blueberries, strawberries and a ½ cup of skim milk! Enjoy because you are making a healthy choice to slim down, shape up and feel great! Life is all about making the right choices to better your life.


Tuna Pita


Purchase organic canned tuna in water or fresh tuna and add light mayo or Greek yogurt along with a sprinkle of romaine lettuce, a sliced tomato and diced celery. Wrap a whole wheat pita around your tuna for a light and satisfying brown bag lunch. Cut up some celery sticks and an apple to eat as a refreshing snack later in the day.


This meal is perfect for one day per week because mercury should be limited. One thing I love about this lunch is that it is light and as a result, you feel good after eating it.


Quinoa Stir-Fry


Substitute quinoa or riced cauliflower for rice to make your Chinese food favorite into a healthy, balanced meal and create a quinoa stir fry dish. Add some scrambled egg whites, peppers and onions to add some extra flavor and sauté in a teaspoon of olive oil. Pair with a banana and some carrot sticks in your brown bag lunch and enjoy! Mom would be proud of this one because it is creative while still remaining healthy.  So it is a total win- win!


Turkey Lettuce-Wraps


Here is a great recipe for simple yet satisfying turkey lettuce wraps. This lunch reminds me of dining out because whenever this is an option on the menu, I order it! Because of the veggies and turkey, they are packed with both fiber and protein, this is super-healthy! The recipe for these delicious wraps is one of my ultimate favorites.


Turkey Burger


Give your fattening burger a skinny, healthy makeover and grill a turkey burger! Place this on a whole-wheat bun with lettuce and tomatoes. If you want to go all out, slice up an onion and bring a zip-lock baggie with barbeque sauce. Pack this burger in your brown bag lunch with a baggie of celery sticks and a ½ cup of strawberries. Heat up and enjoy!


Grilled Chicken Sandwich


Grill a skinless, boneless chicken breast and lay the chicken on 2 slices of whole wheat bread. Add a slice of onion, tomatoes and a sprinkle of oregano for a delicious and healthy lunch. Pair with a Clementine and carrot sticks for your snack! Eat up and enjoy!!


Peanut Butter & Jelly


It is time for the elementary PB & J to get a healthier makeover and substitute your white bread for whole wheat bread.


To kick things up a notch and make your PB & J even healthier, make your own jam and peanut butter. If you are short on time, look in the organic health section of your grocer for peanut butter with no added sugar and natural jam. Pair with a ½ cup of blueberries and sliced carrot sticks!


I hope you enjoyed all my healthy brown bag lunch ideas. These lunches will help to satisfy your appetite and make better choices throughout the day. Now that you have new ideas, what healthy lunch will you make first? 



Tara Zimliki is a nationally recognized weight loss expert, personal trainer, health coach, health writer and founder of Tara’s Bootcamp, the Premiere Bootcamp of New Jersey. Tara also runs her own blog,