Quick and Healthy Lunch Tips

What to bring when you're brown-bagging it

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With the days getting shorter amid busy school and work schedules, it's easy for many of us to forget to plan lunch. Constructing healthy meals is my job, and I slip too!

Keri Glassman
Keri Glassman
As a dietitian, I'm always asked for suggestions to help people eat well on a tight schedule. In this blog, I'll be bringing you the inside scoop on what the Nutritious Life team is brown bagging. See what we're packing for lunch, and pick up some healthful tips that might work for you.

Here is a glimpse at a recent lunch of mine:

What was in my lunch bag?

• Hummus

• Sliced turkey

• Romaine lettuce

• Red grapes

How did I decide on this assortment?

In my mad rush to work a few mornings ago, I threw lettuce leaves, hummus, and sliced turkey in a bag. Like many people, I always keep lettuce and some form of lean deli meat in the fridge. I like to buy organic sliced turkey, like the Applegate brand, for a lean, low-calorie source of high-quality protein that is nitrite free. The grapes were an afterthought—my kids love them—so my home is always stocked with them. I figured I'd want something to complement the turkey, lettuce, and hummus, since it was a fairly basic lunch. This is often what I do when I am pressed for time. I just throw a bunch of ingredients in a bag and assemble them at work. Preassembled wraps usually fall apart anyway when I'm rummaging around in my bag for my Metrocard or sunglasses.

Why did I choose lettuce instead of bread?

A turkey sandwich would have been great, but I had a quinoa breakfast that morning, and a sandwich seemed heartier than I would want. Plus, I like the three or four little wraps I put together with lettuce instead of one big sandwich. Hummus goes well with crunchy lettuce, like Romaine. Just spread the hummus, top with turkey, roll up and eat. Fast and delish! I put hummus on everything from sandwiches to apple slices and roasted chicken. When I don't have turkey on hand, I'll wrap roasted chicken or tuna in lettuce for a satisfying lunch. I try to make my own hummus with garbanzo beans, cold-pressed olive oil, and spices like garlic and turmeric. I like to have a container of my homemade version in the fridge, but when it runs out, I keep Eat Well Enjoy Life's wasabi edamame hummus on hand. The company uses soybeans that are not genetically modified and tops the hummus with actual edamame beans.

How would I do this lunch differently next time?

I like this lunch, because I can make the wraps throughout the day. On many days, I don't have time to eat lunch all in one sitting. I made two wraps at noon and another two later on. My only complaint is that I wish I had bulked up the wrap with more veggies. A few leaves of lettuce just didn't cut it for me. I had sliced red and yellow peppers in the fridge (I always have those cut up and ready to go), and I should have included them. Or, I might have added olives for a little savory goodness. Overall, a combo of lettuce, lean protein, and healthy fat will satisfy me for lunch any day! Hmmmm … I am already thinking about my next one: tofu, guacamole and…

Hungry for more? Write to eatandrun@usnews.com with your questions, concerns, and feedback.

Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN, is the founder and president of Nutritious Life, a nutrition practice based in New York City, and Nutritious Life Meals, a gourmet, healthy, daily diet delivery program available across the country. She is a member of Women's Health magazine's advisory board and has authored three books: Slim Calm Sexy Diet, The O2 Diet, and The Snack Factor Diet. Her expertise is regularly featured on the Today show, Good Morning America, and Access Hollywood Live, among others, and she hosts "A Little Bit Better" on YouTube's Livestrong Woman channel. Read more of Keri's tips every day on Facebook!