As promised, here’s the first installment of Paleo Lunchboxes 2015, my annual collaboration with our pals at LunchBots—makers of the gleaming stainless steel food containers you see in these posts. Our goal every year is to inspire you and demonstrate that packed lunches can be simple, nourishing, and magically delicious for kids and adults alike.
Ready to tackle packed lunches this year? Yeah…me neither.
Unfortunately, healthy lunches won’t make themselves, but they don’t have to be complicated to be fantastic. In fact, to keep things as easy as possible, today’s packed lunch repurposes leftovers from the night before!
Here’s how to tackle this lunch (and dinner!):
For an easy weeknight dinner, roast a chicken (or two) for and a tray of carrots. Serve the chicken and carrots with a giant green salad and you’re good to go. Before you hit the sack (or, if you’re a procrastinator like me, the following morning), throw together a simple chicken salad, chop some fruit and veggies, swirl up a quick dipping sauce, and add some optional Paleo crackers.
Need more deets?
Chicken salad is super simple and versatile if you’ve got leftover chicken and mayonnaise on hand. You can make your own mayo or buy a jar of Primal Kitchen Mayo (Psst! You can save 15% if you use the code: nomnom).
To make chicken salad, I combine diced cooked chicken with mayonnaise flavored with my favorite spice blend and fresh herbs (e.g. scallions, tarragon, or chervil). If I’m feeling fancy (and not so lazy), I might add some diced celery, cherry tomatoes, or apples. Madras Chicken Salad is one of my favorite chicken salad variations.
Next, stack some cucumber sticks with leftover roasted carrot sticks.
My kids like something crunchy in their lunches, so I sometimes add some Paleo-friendly crackers. If you want to make your own crackers, try Gluten Free on a Shoestring’s recipe for Crunchy Paleo Crackers—it’s easy and tasty.
If baking your own crackers sounds like a chore to you, just stock up on Jilz Gluten Free Crackerz—or leave them out. There’s nothing wrong with going cracker-free!
My kids also like to dunk their veggies in a flavored dip. There are tons of Paleo remoulade and ranch dressing recipes out there (including in my cookbook!), but when I’m in a rush, I’ll simply mix some mayonnaise with fresh herbs and spices.
Need dip ideas?
Tartar Sauce = ½ cup mayo + 2 T finely diced cornichons + 1 T lemon juice + 1 tsp Dijon mustard + 1 tsp minced capers
Cilantro Lime Mayo = ½ cup mayo + 2 T minced cilantro + 1 T lime juice
Curry Mayo = ½ cup mayo + 1 tsp curry powder + 1 T lime juice
Smoky Mayo = ½ cup mayo + 1 tsp smoked paprika + 1 T lemon juice
Add some fresh fruit…
…and you’ve got a hearty lunch on hand!
To keep this meal cold until lunchtime, I chill the packed LunchBot in the fridge overnight. If you prefer to pack meals in the morning, keep your empty LunchBots in the fridge overnight so they’re already chilled—or stick ’em in the freezer for 10 minutes before you start packing your lunches. Because LunchBots are stainless steel, they chill super fast. Once the containers are cold, I transfer them to an insulated lunch bag with frozen reusable ice blocks. Alternatively, you can get a PackIt Freezeable Lunch Bags that have freezable gel permanently built into the liner.
Happy lunching! Stay tuned for the next installment—and in the meantime, check out our lunch ideas from previous years’ series!
Looking for more recipes? Head on over to my Recipe Index! You’ll also find exclusive recipes on my iPad® app, and in my New York Times– bestselling cookbook, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Andrews McMeel 2013).