I've never been great at the whole lunch thing. I rarely have the foresight to prep things in advance, and buying lunch every day can really add up. So more often than not, I snack. A little bit of this and little bit of that becomes my surprisingly satisfying midday meal, with bonus points that I can assemble everything quickly — with little-to-no actual cooking. Here's how I build my snack-box lunch.
How to Turn a Bunch of Snacks into a Well-Balanced Lunch
The secret to turning a whole bunch of snacks into a feel-good lunch is finding some balance. Similar to packing a salad or sandwich, you want enough protein and fiber in the mix to ensure you'll be satisfied throughout the afternoon. That means a few bags of potato chips aren't going to cut it. Here's my go-to formula.
My Snack-Box Lunch Formula: 1 Protein + 1 Whole Grain + 1 Veggie or Fruit + 1 Wild Card
Protein is key because it will give you the energy boost you're looking for at noon. A few of my favorite protein-rich snacks are hard-boiled eggs, yogurt cups, salami slices, roasted almonds, and cheese. Adding a bit of fiber to the equation in the form of whole grains ensures your lunch has staying power. Things like Triscuits and Wasa crackers are easy picks. If you'd rather skip the gluten, replace the grains with veggies, such as carrots or bell peppers.
If you opted for a whole-grain snack, make the third part of the equation a veggie. Otherwise, slot in a snackable fruit like an apple, clementine, or grapes. Lastly, throw in a wild card. Since you've got the bases covered, this snack can be pure fun. Maybe it's a few of your favorite sandwich cookies, some Kettle chips, or a piece of dark chocolate. It's a mix-and-match equation that keeps lunch interesting.
A Week of Snack-Box Lunch Ideas
Protein: Hard-boiled eggs, yogurt cup, pepperoni, roasted nuts, string cheese, deli meat, Babybel cheese, leftover shredded chicken, hummus
Whole Grain: Wasa crackers, Triscuits, whole-grain granola bar, whole-wheat crackers, granola, popcorn, brown rice cakes
Vegetable: Carrot sticks, cucumber sticks, cherry tomatoes, bell pepper strips, broccoli florets
Fruit: Apple, clementine, grapes, cubes of melon, halved strawberries, blueberries, banana, dried fruit
Wild Card: Kettle chips, peanut butter-filled pretzels, sandwich cookies, dark chocolate, cheddar crackers
How would you build a snack-box lunch?