Mediterranean-Inspired Brown Bag Lunch Ideas

Add a little more flavor to your lunch.

Total Cost of Ingredients: $25.23
Prices of individual items may vary at your local grocery store. Check ads for items on sale and money-saving coupons.

Mediterranean Lunch Ideas
Keeping your pantry stocked with simple, heart-healthy ingredients means less money spent on lunch!

Note: Keep your cupboard well stocked with following staples: olive oil, balsamic vinegar, low-sodium soy sauce, dried herbs and spices. These items can jazz up the flavor of leftover grains, vegetables, and meats to create a delicious meal in minutes.

Your Shopping List
Whole wheat pasta
Whole grain pita

Fresh Produce:
Baby carrots
Baby spinach
* You can save money on fresh produce by buying fruits and vegetables in season. Buy in bulk (by the bag vs. by the piece). Also check your local farmer’s market for great deals on seasonal produce.

Fresh baby spinach leaves

Canned foods:
Low sodium beans
Tomato sauce
Natural Peanut butter
Low sodium vegetable or legume soup (beans, peas, lentils)
Pear canned in water or juice

Low-fat cheese (buy a block of cheese and slice or shred yourself)
Non-fat plain Greek yogurt

Whole Rotisserie chicken (1 pound)

Unsalted nuts

Try These Nutritious Lunches
Each meal is approximately 300-400 calories.

1. Heart-Healthy Peanut Butter Sandwich
One whole-grain pita with 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter. Enjoy with one cup nonfat Greek yogurt (plain) and 12 baby carrots

2. Very Veggie Soup
1 can of low sodium vegetable soup with 2 cups chopped spinach and 1/2 whole grain pita

3. “Portable Picnic” Lunch (perfect for on-the-go)
1 small apple
1/4 cup nuts
1 ounce of low-fat cheese
1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt (plain)
Optional add-on: 6 baby carrots
* A 1 ounce slice of cheese is about the size of a computer disc.

4. Nutty Pear & Chicken Salad
3 ounces roasted skinless chicken cut into small cubes over 2 cups baby spinach leaves, 1/4 cup beans, 1 tablespoon chopped nuts, 2 canned pear halves

Make your own dressing with condiments you have on hand in your cupboard: Drizzle 1 teaspoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon vinegar on salad
* 3 ounces is about the size of a deck of cards.

5. High Energy Pasta
1 cup whole wheat linguine, ½ cup tomato sauce, 3 ounces roasted skinless chicken cut into cubes, 1 small chopped tomato, a “sprinkle” of shredded cheese (1-2 tablespoons)

Sari Greaves, RD CDN, is the national spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association and a registered dietitian at Step Ahead Weight Loss Center in Bedminster, New Jersey.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest