chicken lunch in squashed brown bag

Brown Bag Lunch is a Picnic with Your Family Cookbook!

Why not use the picnic ideas in your family cookbook to inspire your brown bag lunches? When you think about it, you can enjoy the same kinds of food that make for a great picnic, in your workplace dining.

Taking a brown bag lunch to work can save you a bundle every week as well as making it easier to commune with your co-workers. 

In fact, experts say the average lunch out costs anywhere between $10 and $15 these days, but the average brown bag lunch is about $3. Quite a saving over time!

Plus, packing your own brown bag lunch means you know exactly what ingredients are in your lunch. This is especially important if you are trying to lose weight or have allergies or special dietary preferences.

Keep your lunch cool with an ice pack, which can be easily stored at your work station instead of in a shared refrigerator. I personally don’t fancy co-workers poking about in my brown bag (or lunchbox) in the shared refrigerator, do you? I’ve known people whose brown bag lunch at work has been half-eaten, ransacked, or outright stolen!

“Picnics & Brown Bag Lunches” – my new cookbook section heading!

Taking a brown bag lunch to work doesn’t have to be boring. Stay away from the peanut butter & jelly or bologna & cheese syndrome that’s so easy for the kids and ransack your family recipe book for unusual ideas for your brown bag lunch.

Here are some of my favorite ideas for less mundane brown bag lunches (or picnics) which I’ve found in – or added to – our family cookbook.

Main Course/Sandwiches

  • Pate© and brie on a crusty French baguette with slivered carrots, cilantro and radishes.
  • Selection of deli meats (salami, ham, mortadella) cut to fit saltine crackers, with some pickle slices.
  • Soft roll with white cheddar cheese, thick sliced tomato, mayonnaise, salt, pepper.
  • Chunks of leftover Costco chicken topped with curry mayonnaise and some trail mix.
  • Sliced boiled egg (or mashed) with chive cream cheese and fresh spinach leaves in a pita pocket.

Green Salads

This idea I use for picnic salads works just great for brown baggers: Tote your salad greens in a plastic bag with a twist tie. Open the bag and pour in a small amount of dressing. Close the bag with the twist tie and massage the dressing into the greens (or shake the bag). I’ve found you can use less dressing that way and mix it just as well as tossing.

If you don’t want to use a plate or bowl, eat directly from the bag. Easy!

Finishing Sweets

It’s always nice to finish up a brown bag lunch with a small sweet dessert of sorts. My favorites include:

  • Fruit (apple, orange, pear, grapes)
  • Dark chocolate bar
  • Biscotti or other flavorful cookie

For some more great ideas for brown bag/lunchbox meals, check out these websites:

Starla’s Free Vintage Recipe Collection

Hillbilly Housewife

And, remember, no snack chip products! These are just costly empty calories – and definitely not family recipes!

Sharing your leftovers!

Leftovers are the working adults’ lifesaver for brown bag lunching. Some co-workers make a pact to share leftovers, so there’s always a variety on the lunch table.

If you are lucky enough to work with a diverse workforce, the shared leftovers from international cultures make lunchtimes a lot more interesting – as well as providing you with some great potential additions to family cookbook!

Incidentally, your brown bag lunch doesn’t have to be in a brown bag. But, I’m sure you knew that already. Dig out the old Thermos® and join the crowd!

Happy lunching,

Erin

About Erin Miller

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