Are you bored with your lunch routine? Do you have a lunch routine at all?
Recently, a friend asked me to help her brainstorm healthy lunches for her children who started school full time this year. But she liked my ideas so much, we ended up planning her lunches instead!
Even if you are busy minding what everybody else eats, it doesn't mean your taste buds have to suffer.
And since I truly don't know anyone--with or without children--who isn't busy, I recommend recipes that can be made ahead and frozen. So on a rushed morning, all that has to be done is pull a homemade, individually wrapped lunch out of the freezer.
In case you don’t know how to do that, let me get side-tracked for a minute. It will help you understand the recipes much better.
How to Make Freezable Lunch Wraps
Making a week of wraps at a time and freezing it is the easiest, most logical way to save time and calories by packing your own lunch. My husband and father have made freezer-sandwiches for years. Uh huh, that’s right, it’s so easy, even the men in my life are willing to participate.
Step #1 You Want to Eat a Tortilla, Not a Frisbee
It’s really important to select a tortilla that is pliable so it doesn’t break when you fold it. It needs to freeze well so it doesn’t break when it defrosts. And, which its main objective is to be a carrier for the rest of your meal, it needs to play it’s part, too.
For all those reasons, I am a huge fan of Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Whole Grain Tortillas. They go well with every one of these recipes and make your meal so much more hearty, especially since they are strong enough to keep all the ingredients in the wrap.
Step #2 Don't Get Slimed!
Sadly, not all ingredients in typical wraps do well in the freezer. The last thing you want is to bite into something slimy come lunchtime tomorrow. So, let’s get the ingredients listed out here.
Freeze: cooked potatoes, beans, legumes, canned tomatoes, cooked vegetables like onions and peppers, cooked greens like kale and spinach, jarred items like roasted peppers, spreads like hummus and peanut butter; berries, grapes, and most chopped fruit; grains like rice and quinoa, cheese
Don’t Freeze: fresh tomatoes, fresh greens (like lettuce), cucumber, cantaloup, watermelon, bananas (These freeze fine for baking, but turn brown and runny if you want to eat them straight.)
Step #3 Get Rollin’
Now, let’s calculate this. If you have 8 recipes, and you make 4 of each wrap, you have a month of lunches! Course, some recipes make more, some recipes make less. But what an awesome variety! You don’t have to roll them all up once. Find a prep schedule that works for you. In fact, if you make one wrap recipe for an entire week and make your meals only a week in advance, you’ll have two months worth of recipes!.
Step #4 Wrap It Up
Wrap each burrito up in a large piece of parchment paper and place it in a zip-top freezer bag. Label the bag because you can’t see through the parchment, and you don’t want any surprises in your lunch.
Step #5 Brown-bag It
Pull out your wrap of choice before you leave for work. Put it in your bag (brown or otherwise). In most cases the wrap will defrost in time for lunch. Parchment is microwaveable if your wrap needs to be warm. Most office microwaves need a full minute to heat-through.
OK, now that you know how to make a freezer-wrap that makes you look like a genius in the lunch room, let’s get to the yummy recipe part.
Freezer-Friendly Lunch Wrap Recipes
This recipe knocks off the extra fat from fried falafel while mixing in quinoa for a heartier flavor and texture.
The lettuce and tomato get slimey in the freezer, but it's a cinch to pack them on the side. Change up the flavor with these toppings that do freeze well: avocado, roasted peppers, and cooked onions.
Use brown rice in this recipe to maximize the fiber and nutrition possibilities. Up the fiber even more by replacing some or all of the chicken with smashed (as in, not mashed to cream) chickpeas. The nuts and dried fruit freeze just fine.
I prefer my curry without coconut milk. But if you do like it, use Lite Coconut Milk for less fat. Speaking of fat, don’t be nervous about the healthy-fat-avocado. It will freeze just fine.
I am a huge fan of homemade freeze-ahead bean burritos. But this recipe is smart because it incorporates a colorful variety of freezer-friendly vegetables, too. As always, skip the cheese or use low-fat cheese to cut down on fat and keep to your weight-loss goals.
I love the wonderful ingredients in this colorful wrap. Unfortunately, the fresh greens don’t freeze well. You could eat this wrap without them, but it would be ever so much more fun with them. So pack them in a small bowl to roll into your wrap at your lunch destination. Consider cutting back on the feta to cut down fat.
This is another way to use up leftover mashed potatoes. But the burrito would look a little lonely without the salad. So make sure you pack something green in your brown bag.
Think it needs more protein and fiber? Don’t hesitate to stir some mashed white beans into the potatoes.
This wrap is particularly delicious because when the fruit defrosts, it gets soft and a little runny. Very similar to preserves or jelly! Only loads healthier, of course. Bananas aren’t preferred here because they turn brown when defrosted. Berries, peaches, mango chunks and halved grapes are great options however.
A pizza and a burrito in one? This sounds like a recipe meant for the kid-at-heart. But consider making an adult-only version with artichoke, spinach, and other freezable ingredients you would put on your favorite pizza. And, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, use low-fat cheese and use the least you can get away with for less fat.
The contrasting colors of dark and green make this burrito easy on the eyes. The quick assembly and yummy result will be easy on everything else.
I enjoy tomatillo salsa. So it’s no wonder this recipe caught my eye. I would make it easier on myself by mixing tomatillo salsa with sweet potatoes and beans and calling it a day. However you determine to make the combination, you won’t be sorry.
This is one “real simple” burrito that will keep you filled up all day. If you’re looking for a complete gluten-free meal, this can be frozen just as easily in a bowl.
Are you tired of the same old boring lunch? This one will give you the variety you crave. It has sweet (mango) and spice (cayenne) and everything nice.
This is a great example of how to repurpose supper into the next day’s lunch. All you have to do is chop leftover baked potatoes and toppings into bite-sized pieces. Feel free to add more fiber and protein with a few beans, too.
What are the fajita ingredients from your favorite Mexican restaurant? Chances are, if they’re cooked, they’re freezable. Just make sure you don’t cook them in quite as much oil and that the items you choose are high in fiber and water. The turkey is extra and should be kept to a minimum. But it sure makes these wraps tasty!
An Alternative Wrap
Are you looking for less bread? A smaller wrap? A less messy meal or a change in texture? Many of these recipes taste equally amazing in a pita pocket. Oat Bran or Whole Wheat pita pockets are your healthiest choice.
Now you have 14 ways to wrap up a faster, cheaper, and healthier lunch. These delicious wraps can be easily prepared and tossed in your freezer, giving you a reason to look forward to packing your own lunch.
Brown-bagging-it never looked or tasted so good.