I loooove the fall. Especially here in wine country, everything is so beautiful! Crisp, and clean, and changing. Plus, with my son back in school and new pencils and brand new notebooks everywhere, it makes me feel primed for a change!
It also makes me think of lunch boxes! Did you have a favorite as a kid? Mine was either my Strawberry Shortcake or Star Trek (nerd alert!) lunchbox. They were awesome.
But now that I’m grown up, I might or might not be willing to tote around a character lunch box (depending on my mood) but what’s inside has to be a little more sophisticated, because let’s face it: a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on white bread isn’t doing my body any good.
So I thought I’d do a round-up of some of my favorite thyroid-friendly (Paleo) lunch box ideas for you thyroid warriors who work outside the home or are always on the go! Because somehow packed lunches seem synonymous in people’s minds with grains and carbs: bread, wraps, chips, crackers, etc. And packing your lunch is the safest bet when you’re choosing to eat a healthier diet, because let’s face it: there’s nothing worse than realizing your restaurant or cafeteria chicken and veggies were swimming in sugary marinade and gluten after you’ve already eaten half of it!
Equipment: Character lunch boxes optional
The biggest key, I’ve found, to making lunch prep as easy as possible (because goodness knows you don’t need another thing to worry about in the morning) is having the right equipment.
By equipment, I mean the storage containers, ice packs, bags, and boxes you need to make packing easy peasey.
I suggest you should have:
- a large insulated lunch box or bag (I say large, because we thyroid peeps often need more volume of our healthy food than the standard sandwich and a bag of chips size.)
- BPA-free plastic or glass containers in various sizes
- ice packs
- a wide-mouthed thermos for keeping leftovers hot (especially so you can avoid the microwave)
- large glass canning jars (I’ll show you why in a minute)
- lunchbox-specific utensils (because you don’t want to lose one of your good spoons in the break-room trash)
If you don’t have these things or don’t like the things you do have, I suggest investing in some good equipment. It may even make bringing your lunch a little more fun!
Thyroid-friendly lunchbox ideas
Salad in a jar. Salad is a lunchtime staple for lots of people, me included, because it’s easy to get a big dose of healthy veggies, some protein and healthy fat (like avocado, nuts, or a healthy oil in the dressing). But if chopping veggies first thing in the morning is not your favorite thing to do, I highly recommend trying salad in a jar! Because the jars are air-tight, you can pack a week’s worth of salads, and they will keep up to 5 days in the fridge! Just grab and go. Here’s a great primer on how to pack your jar for the best (least-wilty) results. You’ll probably want wide-mouthed canning jars for packing and a bowl for eating.
Leftovers. Leftovers are my second go-to lunch, and I always encourage my clients to make dinner with leftovers in mind. If you’re going to be cooking anyway, why not make a little extra for another meal? This is where thermoses come in handy so you don’t have to use the gross microwave at work.
Chicken salad. Whip up some Paleo mayonnaise and make chicken salad. There are about a zillion different ways to zest up this lunchbox staple: add fresh herbs like dill or tarragon for crazy fresh flavor, mix in apples and walnuts for a Waldorf take. One of my personal favorite combos: curry powder, raisins and cashews. YUM!!
Trail mix. Make your own trail mix for a fast, healthy, and satisfying snack at work or on the go. Mix your favorite nuts, some dried fruit, and some coconut flakes for a handful of crunchy deliciousness.
Meatballs. Meatballs are a super-easy, fast protein to throw in a lunch box if you make them ahead. You can make a big batch and then freeze them for easy thawing and eating. Here’s a tip: freeze meatballs on a cookie sheet so that they don’t stick together, then transfer them to a zipper bag or other container once they’re frozen solid. That way you can take out just a few at a time. Or, add warmed tomato sauce and meatballs to your thermos. Delish!
Crudite wraps. Take thin slices of chicken, turkey, or roast beef and wrap them around little bundles of carrots, sweet peppers, cucumbers, green beans — whatever floats your boat! Pack them with a Paleo-friendly dip and this is a delicious, easy lunch.
Egg cups. You’ve probably seen the recipes all over the web for individual-sized “omelettes” baked in muffin tins or ramekins — but they’re not just for breakfast! If you whip up a batch of these on the weekend, they make excellent grab-and-go lunches, too. Vary the ingredients you put in these puppies and you’ll be hard pressed to get bored. Using silicone muffin cup liners means these have their own ready-to-go container!
Antipasti. Mmmm… My beloved Italians know how to do it right! An antipasti “platter” might be just the ticket to make your lunch feel special. How about some good olives, some prosciutto, a few marinated mushrooms, artichokes or pickled veggies, some almonds and some grapes or a fig for dessert… Heaven!
Baked potatoes. If potatoes are on your menu, baked potatoes can be an awesome easy lunch! I love to top white potatoes with fresh salsa, or add bacon and onions for more of a classic baked potato flavor. Sweet potatoes can be amazing too! I’m intrigued by this recipe for pizza potatoes! Another make-ahead meal you can do in a big batch on the weekend to be ready for the week ahead.
So tell me, what’s your favorite thyroid-friendly packed lunch? Share your ideas in the comments below!