Lunchbox Makeover: Midday MealsTo Perk Up Your Workday

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Bored with lunch at the corner deli or tired of rotating through the same frozen entrees for lunch each week? Try packing something that will make your coworkers’ mouths drool. Spice up your midday meal with these easy, healthy and tasty twists on typical lunchtime fare.

Leftovers for Lunch

We’ve all put our dinner leftovers in a little plastic container and nuked them the next day for lunch, but why not get a little creative and make a quick and easy spinoff of what you ate during primetime? If you made baked or roasted chicken for dinner, try combining shredded chicken with shredded carrots and barbecue sauce for a pulled barbecue-chicken sandwich. Spread ranch dressing on a whole-wheat bun and top with the chicken and a leaf of romaine lettuce for a satisfying, protein-packed lunch. 

Need ideas for that leftover flank steak? Slice open an Italian or French roll and layer steak, baby spinach, orange slices and gorgonzola cheese inside. Drizzle a vinaigrette of cider vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper on top of the meat, cheese and oranges before closing the sandwich and refrigerate for a citrusy take on the steak sandwich. 

The Chicken Salad Standard

You can find it on almost any lunch menu across America, but try making your own flavorful, fruit-filled version. Whisk curry powder and water into low-fat mayonnaise or yogurt, add chopped, cooked boneless chicken breast, a small chopped apple, raisins and diced celery. Mix well and chill before eating in a pita pocket or on warmed flatbread. You could also substitute apples and raisins for red grapes and walnuts.

Tired Turkey

It’s everyone’s go to lunchmeat. Slap it on a piece of wheat bread and it will get you through the afternoon, but how can you make it more interesting? Food blogger Sanura Weathers suggests an exotic open-faced version with roasted veggies and precooked shrimp.  After roasting and cooling eggplant for about 30 minutes, spread ricotta cheese or hummus on a slice of wholegrain bread and top with eggplant slices, honey-roasted turkey deli meat, shrimp, tomato, arugula and feta cheese. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Pack all the ingredients separately and assemble at work to avoid a soggy sandwich. Weathers suggests keeping salt and pepper and little bottles of olive oil and balsamic vinegar at work for salads and other lunchtime culinary fixes. 

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