Monday, January 14, 2013

Packing Healthy Lunches to GO!

I've already written about packing healthy school lunches for children here. But what about you, the adult? If you are working full time or going to school, you might want some ideas on simple ways to create a nourishing lunch. Of course, taking leftovers is always an option, but what about something new?

Let's face it, if we really want to continue moving forward as a culture and as a global community, we all need to take responsibility for what we consume. Every time we eat we vote with our fork for the kind of world we want to live in. Eating is something we partake in at least three times a day. If we are rushed and decide to go out for lunch, even to a seemingly "healthy" place, we are probably unknowingly consuming genetically engineered ingredients, foods grown with pesticides and herbicides, or ingredients that are far too processed for the human body to thrive off of. It's unfortunate that the world we live in right now isn't set up for the health and well-being of the people and the planet, but we can change that....we are changing it! One big step is to buy organic ingredients and prepare your own meals.

By taking a few moments out of your day on the weekend you can easily prepare a week's worth of lunches for yourself all ready to go. I like to use glass mason jars because they are easy to store in the refrigerator and transport well. After preparation, make sure to cover them tightly with a lid and store in your refrigerator for no more than 5 days, though I prefer to make enough for 3 or 4 days at a time. Below are some of my favorite combinations! It is best to wait to add the dressing until the day you plan on consuming your salad. If you have any lettuce in the salad then it is best to wait to dress it just before serving.

Quinoa-Bean-Lemon Tahini
Cooked Red Quinoa
Garbanzo Beans
Chopped Raw Carrots
Chopped Raw Cauliflower
Chopped Raw Kale
Chopped Cilantro
Lemon-Tahini Dressing (recipe in The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook)

Squash-Chicken-Roasted Beet
Cooked Winter Squash (mashed)
Cooked Organic Chicken (shredded)
Roasted Beets (chopped)
Chopped Parsley or Cilantro
Lemon-Tahini Dressing or Cashew Herb Dressing

Rice-Lentil-Caramelized Onion
Cooked Brown Rice
Cooked Black Beluga Lentils
Caramelized Red Onions
Chopped Basil or Parsley
Chopped Raw Carrots
Balsamic Vinaigrette (recipe in The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook)

Quinoa-Smoked Salmon-Cultured Vegetable
Cooked Quinoa
Lacto-Fermented Vegetables
Smoked Salmon
Avocado (cut this up just before serving)

Black Bean-Napa Cabbage-Corn-Tomato
Cooked Black Beans
Thinly Sliced Napa Cabbage
Cooked fresh or frozen Corn
Chopped Roma Tomatoes
Chopped Cilantro
Zucchini-Lime Dressing (recipe in Nourishing Meals)

Well, there you have a few options. These are our favorites! Use whatever ingredients you have on hand and substitute for what's in season. For example, in place of the fresh tomatoes in the last option maybe you could use some salsa that you canned yourself last summer or use a little mashed winter squash. The options are endless of course! I'd love to hear from you. If you have more ideas please leave a comment below and share with us, thanks! In fact, these layered salads are so pretty that it would be fun to see what you come up with. If you feel like it, please share a photo on our Facebook page! :)

Subscribe to this blog via Email
Follow me on Facebook
Follow me on Twitter
Follow me on Instagram

About the Author

Alissa Segersten holds a Bachelor's of Science in Nutrition from Bastyr University. She is the founder of Whole Life Nutrition, the mother of five children, a whole foods cooking instructor, professional recipe developer, and cookbook author. She is passionate about helping others find a diet that will truly nourish them, and offers elimination diet recipes, healthy gluten-free recipes, paleo and vegan recipes, as well as tips for feeding your family a nourishing, whole foods diet. Alissa is the author of two very popular gluten-free, whole foods cookbooks and guidebooks: The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook and Nourishing Meals. She is also the co-author of The Elimination Diet book. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram!


  1. Just had the Quinoa-Bean-Lemon Tahini combination for lunch today and it was delicious! Ate it around 11:45am and I am just getting a little hungry now. (3:10PM)

  2. What a creative idea! Thank you so much!!

  3. Fantastic and so timely as I am really struggling with lunches at the moment. I think even being home with small children it would be great to have this made up in advance in the fridge, and stop the bad food decisions made in moments of extreme hunger!

  4. Loving your blog posts. As a stay-at-home-mom, I love enjoying warm leftovers at lunchtime. These ideas are fantastic for planning ahead for other nutritious lunches.

    Question: I see rice in one of the options. Are you having any doubts about the safety of rice after the reports in 2012 about arsenic in the American rice fields? Thanks!

  5. I've been relying on refrigerated oatmeal in a jar for breakfast, and love it. Having recipes to do the same for lunch is wonderful - thank you so much!

  6. Fantastic!! SO clever and so healthy. Thanks.
    Peace & Raw Health,

  7. Thank you Ali! I made 2 mason jar lunches today with carrot-ginger dressing,brown rice, garbanzo's (that I had in the freezer), chopped red onion, shredded cabbage pickles, and lettuce. So yummy! Amy from

  8. Hi Ali, I don't know if you have already done an article like this, but could you do one as if you were writing to a new Bride starting up her first GFree kitchen. The first Basic GFree flours, and sauce making things. It seem all of your lovely articles are for people who basically already know what they are doing. But some, don't even know where to start. :D

  9. I do mason jar lunches, but in winter I fill my jars with soup. One quart jar is two lunches. Then I bring some fresh veggies and/or fruit on the side. I work in a public school and since I've added bone broth to my diet this year, I haven't been sick once. Soup for lunch is an easy way to get broth in my diet and help my immune system protect me from my adorable, germ-infested students!

  10. I made the Quinoa-Bean-Lemon Tahini salad the other day and it was sooo good! I also had several co-workers ask for the recipe.

    I wasn't able to finish the whole thing in one sitting, so I put the remaining salad in a pyrex container. I finished it the next day. The leftovers already had some of the lemon tahini sauce mixed in with it, but the kale was still fine (it's hearty enough that it wasn't wilted or anything like that). I gently heated some more lemon tahini sauce, then mixed that in with the remaining salad, and I was pleasantly surprised that the leftovers actually tasted even better than the day before!

    Some of my co-workers suggested that a little goat cheese might also work with this salad - I might have to try that addition sometime soon! :)

    1. Is goat cheese allowed on the elimination diet?

  11. We've been loving all of these - but especially the rice-lentil-carmelized onion combo. My 5-year-old has requested it for lunch 3 times in the last 2 weeks!


Join the Conversation!

I'd love to hear your feedback with my recipes. If you make any changes or substitutions then please share what you did so others can learn.

If you have a question about a recipe, please leave it here. I will do my best to answer it when I have time.

Comment moderation is in place. Your comment will be only be visible here once I publish it.

Thanks and Happy Cooking! ~Ali :)