Every morning, Monday through Friday, I pack my husband a low-carb lunch to take to work. This lunch-packing thing isn’t new to me, as I’ve been doing it since my kids started public school in 2011. However, packing a low-carb lunch every day can be a little more challenging! It took me a while to figure out what my husband likes to eat, what still tastes good after sitting in a box accompanied by a melting ice pack after 4 hours, and how to keep it low-carb – all without being too repetitive. The key has been to get organized ahead at the beginning of the week and have a plan. If you need to pack a low-carb lunch to take to work but aren’t sure how, I hope this blog post will help you get started.
ORGANIZED LOW-CARB LUNCH-PACKING
It’s best to get all your lunch-making items for the week organized on Sunday afternoon or evening. Make a list of one week of lunches and purchase everything you will need. I usually pack everyone the same thing, with lower-carb options for my husband. For example, if I’m packing my girls a roast beef & Swiss sandwich, I’ll pack my husband a roast beef & Swiss lettuce wrap. If I pack them tuna salad with Wheat Thins, I’ll pack my husband tuna salad with cucumber rounds.
Set aside time on Saturday or Sunday afternoon to prep your lunches for the week. Although initially it does take some time, it is worth it to be able to pack lunches quickly in the evenings or early mornings.
Gather all your lunch-packing ingredients. Roast your chicken or beef, then slice for sandwiches, or make chicken salad. Make a jar of homemade salsa. Bake a loaf of almond bread; cool, slice, and wrap. Bake some low-carb cookies or cupcakes. Wash all fresh produce; then cut, chop, or slice. Save large, washed pieces of lettuce for wraps, then chop remaining lettuce for salads. Cut cheese into cubes or slices, or shred as needed. Open deli lunch meats you will be using and sort into a storage container. Prepare dressings or sauces. Put everything into labeled containers and place lunch items close together for easy access.
NOTE: Carrots are fairly high in carbs, so the carrot sticks are for my girls.
PACKING LOW-CARB LUNCHES (that you don’t need to reheat!)
- Peanut butter & sugar-free jam sandwich made with almond bread or low-carb minute bread
- Deli turkey rolled up with Swiss or cheddar cheese
- Mix 3 parts mayonnaise with 2 parts sriracha sauce to make a spicy, yummy dip! This is one of my favorite dips.
- Lettuce wrap made with roast beef, Swiss cheese, tomatoes, onions, peppers, and Dijon mayonnaise
- Greek-inspired salad (pack olive oil separately to drizzle)
- Chicken Salad with chopped lettuce (or try making Raspberry Chicken Salad)
- Homemade cream cheese “crepes” or low-carb tortilla rolled with ham & cheddar, tuna salad, or chicken salad
- Pepperoni & cheese slices
- Chilled taco salad, sans beans and chips. Pack separately, then mix together at lunch time:
- Cooked & seasoned ground beef or turkey
- Chopped lettuce, tomatoes, green onions, hot peppers.
- Shredded cheese
- Mix salsa with sour cream for dressing.
- Tuna salad and cucumber rounds or homemade almond & flaxseed crackers
- Hardboiled eggs
- Salad with meat and/or eggs (that’s what the chopped ham in the picture is for); dressing packed separately
Tip: I place a paper towel on the bottom and top of my lettuce in storage. It absorbs extra moisture and the lettuce stays crisp all week!
- Low-carb raw veggies such as celery, bell peppers, broccoli, cucumber, cauliflower, grape tomatoes
- Cucumber rounds make a great carrier for tuna salad, chicken salad, etc.
- Low-carb berries such as strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, etc.
- Pork rinds – plain or flavored (my husband’s favorite is Mission spicy picante)
- Nuts – macadamia nuts, peanuts, walnuts, cashews, etc. Not all nuts are created equally. Check carb content per portion size.
- Seeds – such as sunflower seeds (tastes great added to salads)
- Low-carb homemade almond & flaxseed crackers
- Almond bread (homemade)
- Low-carb tortilla
- Tortilla chips made from a low-carb tortilla and fried at home
- String cheese or cubes of your favorite cheese
- Homemade cheese “crackers”
- Oil & vinegar
- Ranch dip or dressing
- Bleu cheese
- Cream cheese for spreading on low-carb homemade crackers, fruit, or raw veggies
- Peanut butter also for spreading on low-carb crackers, fruit, or raw veggies
- Sour cream mixed with salsa
- Dijon mustard mixed with mayonnaise (1:3)
- Sriracha sauce mixed with mayonnaise (2:3)
- Laughing Cow flavored cheese spreads for low-carb crackers and breads
- Cream cheese mixed with chopped olives for spreading on low-carb crackers and breads
- Cream cheese mixed with sugar-free flavored syrup (Torani raspberry is my favorite!), for spreading on low-carb crackers or for dipping berries
- Low-carb homemade cookies, cakes, or muffins (check out Pinterest)
- Crustless cheesecake
- Sugar-free candy like Russell Stovers, Reese’s, Hershey’s, etc.
- Full-fat plain Greek yogurt (pack fruit, nuts, and sweetener to add; read the nutrition label and get the lowest carb per serving. Also be sure to measure out the yogurt to keep your carbs low)
- Although not sugar-free, I like to sometimes include one small square of organic, dark chocolate, which is usually around 2 net carbs
- Low-carb berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, etc.) – carefully measured out
Water is obviously the best choice – it’s cheap, healthy, and takes no special preparation. But then, there’s always…
- Sugar-free soda
- Sparkling water like Perrier (my fave)
- Flavored water
- Crystal Lite lemonade or other flavors
- Unsweetened, home-brewed iced tea (pack lemon slices to squeeze into; your favorite sugar-free sweetener if you like it sweet)
My fridge on Sunday evening, ready for a week of lunch-packing: