Lunchtime is about more than grabbing a quick sandwich – it’s a break from the day, a chance to socialize with friends, and refuel with good nutrition for the rest of the day. Standing in line at a cafeteria or a fast food spot makes it hard to do either of those things, but a power lunch packed from home makes it easy.
In addition to a better lunch hour, students who regularly pack their own lunch gain independent living skills: creating weekly shopping lists, participating in grocery shopping, and taking care of themselves with fresh, healthy foods.
Here are a few ideas to help make packing a lunch part of the daily routine:

1. Get set with the right containers.

Plain old brown bags do the job, but finding reusable containers that fit your style will let you pack a wider variety of foods. If you like a hot lunch of soup or leftovers, look for a short thermos with a wide opening. To keep different foods from touching, look for a bento style container, or use cupcake liners to hold each serving. Try opening and closing the containers before you buy them, to be sure you like the way they work.

2. Stock up on fresh, healthy food that is right for you.

Keeping the right foods on hand is important, especially for students with food allergies or medical concerns like diabetes. Try easy-to-pack veggies like baby carrots and cherry tomatoes, and firm fruits like tangerines and apples. As you unpack the groceries after shopping, group lunch items in the fridge and cupboard so they are easy to find.

3. Pack your lunch the night before.

Mornings get busy! By packing your lunch the night before, you’ll know that you’ve included a variety of healthy foods, in the right portion sizes, and your lunch is ready to grab and go. Fill and chill your water bottle, too!

4. Protein + Plants = A Healthy Wrap.

Wraps are the kings of the packed lunch! Easy to make, easy to eat, and they make a nice change from a traditional sandwich. Choose a protein to keep you fueled all afternoon: tuna, sliced meats, a hard-boiled egg, or hummus and cheese. Layer on as much sliced veggies and greens as you like, and roll it up.   

5. Turn leftovers into lunch.

What do you call it when you’ve made too much for dinner? We call it lunch, especially if your school or workplace has a microwave. As you clean up from the evening meal, put the leftovers right into your lunch container. Just be sure that the container is microwave safe if you do need to reheat it.

Find more ideas and recipes for easy power lunches here