Sunday, January 25, 2009

Healthy Habits: Portable Eats

Although I would like to be able to prepare a well-rounded, nutritious meal every time my tummy grumbles, sometimes my schedule simply does not allow for time-consuming cookery. Whether it's packing a lunch for work, stashing a few snacks for class, or picking out an emergency stash for the airport, choosing convenient, portable, yet healthful eats merely requires a little forethought and some simple equipment.

First, decide whether you want to bring hot, cold, or room temperature items. From there, you need to assemble the right equipment. Ever since I got my first job in high school, I have been collecting various meal containers and lunchbox systems. My favorites include:

Laptop Lunch Box (purchased from the manufacturer)
(For more of my LLB creations, visit flickr, where my user name is Tofurky1224)

Tupperware Meal Solutions to Go Pack (purchased from Amazon)
Fit & Fresh (purchased from Bed, Bath, and Beyond)

Or simply your favorite food storage containers! (these purchased from Ikea)
While I did not purchase a thermos for any of these systems, they provide an excellent solution if you prefer a hot lunch. Be sure to remember your napkin and utensils!
As for choosing the fare itself, my packing principle is simple: aim for as many food groups to be included in the meal as possible. Although it's not always feasible to include all the food groups in one "moveable feast," a portion of protein and a whole grain serving are my minimum requirements. Here are few of my favorite ways to balance my plate:

Vegetables: carrots, sliced crudites, low-sodium V8, veggie sandwich toppers, small salads
Fruits: choose your favorite! Most fruits are easily transported with or without refrigeration.
Protein: Hummus, bean dip, frozen veggie patties, Tofurky, soynuts
Fat: Trail mix, nut butters, tahini or oil-based salad dressing used as a dip, olives for salads or sandwiches
Grains: whole grain bread, bagels, wraps, pitas, crackers, cereal
Dairy/Calcium Source: string cheese, boxed soymilk

Assembly of the above ingredients is entirely up to you and your creativity. Here are few that work well for me and my lifestyle, in terms of ease of transport and consumption:

Snack mix (with cereal, dried fruit, nuts and/or soynuts)
Sandwiches with soy-based meat analogs, hummus, or nut butters
*Note: it's wise to use Sunbutter or peanut-free alternatives when traveling in small spaces such as an airplane. Unfortunately, some fellow passengers may have a sensitive peanut allergy!

Whole food bars (such as Larabar or Vega Vibrance bars)
Hummus with dippers
Nut butter with dippers

These are the guidelines I use to make sure I don't have to rely on the vending machine for dinner (sadly, Twizzlers, do not qualify as a balanced meal).

I hope you find this post useful, and enjoy your evening:)


Anonymous said...

I am loving this post! Very helpful information and great pictures. I love the lunch container with all the little ones inside it. I always find myself using all these small containers and them falling everywhere.

Mel said...

ahhh, what great ideas!! i'm on campus pretty much all day everyday and i've needed some ideas for lunches. thanks for the info! :-)

Courtney (The Hungry Yogini) said...

Mmmm! I too find portable storage containers exhilarating. What does that say about us!? I love your preparedness.

Anonymous said...

Oh lovie i'm so glad you did this! I just started classes up again at community college after I graduated, and in college I was able to make it home for all my meals! So now i'm re-learning how to pack my little school lunchies :D Tupperware is great for green purposes, and not smushing everything too.

Marianne said...

Gotta love the packed lunch - I take mine every day to work!

flower said...

Excellent ideas thank you :)

Erica said...

Great post! I agree that its easy to eat pretty healthy as long as you think/plan ahead. Love all of your ideas and your great storage containers. I have to get some new ones. Happy monday

VeggieGirl said...

I have a Laptop Lunch Box, and love it for its portability (as you obviously mentioned, haha) - this post is fabulous!!! Love ya!!! :-D

Burp~! said...

wow thanks for the info! so useful! I'm actually right now on a hunt for a cute bento box!

Anonymous said...

YOU, my dear, are THE master packer! I love it!! I'll be coming back to this post when I hit the road next month :) Thanks for posting!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you SO much with the lunch ideas! I live off campus and classes can sometimes run past lunch! Living on a college-student budget and rushing all the time, it can seem stressful to put together healthy, wholesome meals - this definately saved my lunch today - haha, putting the twizzlers down! the vending machine will be dusty and hungry without my quarters ;)

ChickPea said...

Shelby: I'm glad you liked the post! I highly recommend the LLB--it's perfect for all ages.
Mel: Yep, campus life def calls for portable eats!
Courtney: Ha! So true. I just love food organization:)
CarolineBee: Packing a lunch is so much fun for me--I hope you enjoy it too...and blog about it!
Marianne: I know! I love your packed lunches.
Flower: You're quite welcome:)
Erica: Happy food container shopping!
VeggieGirl: Oooh! I had no idea that you too were a LLB fan!
Burp: Aren't Bentos the best?! Let me know what you end up with!
K: Aw, thanks! I hope you get some ideas from this post:)
GrkGrl: I can totally relate! I live in an on campus apt, but it's quite far from where classes are held, so snacks are a must!

Erin said...

I didn't know you have a laptop lunchbox! So much fun. I try to take lunch to work every day, it's so much easier on the wallet than going out.