On-the-go lunch ideas for a hectic day

Priscilla Woo, Academics Editor

During the busy weeks of the school year, it can be difficult to find the time to pack a thoughtful and nutritious lunch. Preparing for tests, finishing homework and attending after-school activities can limit time available for making a meal for the next day. However, packing a quality meal for school doesn’t have to be time-consuming or difficult. Here are some simple and healthy ways to enhance your meals.  

Oatmeal is nutritious and easy to make, and overnight oats are suitable for even the busiest of mornings. These oats can be prepared the night before with just a few simple ingredients. First, stir one part any dry oats with two parts water. Alternatives to water include vanilla almond milk for a sweeter taste or greek yogurt for a thicker consistency. For those who have a sweet tooth, you can add stevia or honey for a healthier option. For a stronger taste, you can sprinkle a pinch of cinnamon powder as well. 

“Keep it in the refrigerator overnight,” senior Alice Kweon said. “The oats will expand and soak up the liquid.” 

Not only are overnight oats easy to make, but they are also versatile with endless options for toppings. To add nutrients, texture and color, you can include seeds, nuts, nut butters or fruits.

“I usually like to add blueberries, bananas or kiwis,” Kweon said. “It tastes good and is really nutritious while being convenient for school.”

If you prefer a more filling meal, try bento boxes. These Japanese-inspired lunches are compact and perfect for portion control while being visually appealing to boost your mood throughout the school day. Bento boxes can be bought on online sites such as Bento USA, but a regular lunch container will work too. You can fill them up with anything as long as it fills the portioned sections in the box. 

Start off with a base. This should be either a grain or starch packed with carbohydrates to satisfy your appetite. Some grain options include brown rice, quinoa or bread. Next, pick some vegetables that are rich in dietary fiber and essential vitamins. Long-lasting vegetables are preferable since they will stay fresh throughout the day. Broccoli, squash, kale and spinach are all suitable options. Lastly, it is essential to pack a protein such as meat to provide energy, or tofu and beans for a vegetarian or vegan alternative. 

“Sometimes I will pack baked chicken,” sophomore Christine Cheong said. “I normally try to pack a lot of vegetables with it like kale, sweet potatoes and celery.”

These ingredients can be combined and organized neatly into a compact box in any creative way from wraps to sandwiches to salads for an exciting lunch to look forward to all day. 

“For the past few weeks, I’ve been making wraps with hummus, provolone cheese, turkey, spinach and tomatoes. I like turkey because it’s a healthier protein option than pork or beef,” senior Vietthao Ho said. “I’ll usually just use whatever vegetables I have in the fridge; the staples are spinach and tomatoes, but sometimes I’ll have bell peppers. Just wrap that all up and cut it, then put it in a box and the next day I’ll eat it without having to heat it up, which is nice.”

Because these organized meals incorporate almost every food group, they make nutritious meals with customizable ingredients and endless varieties that can fit anyone’s taste.

Priscilla Woo
This healthy meal consists of a wrap with grilled chicken, cucumbers, lettuce, and eggs. Nuts and a small salad with tomatoes can add healthy fats and extra nutrients.