Back to School Lunch Ideas

800px-Lunchbox_for_tourCollege can get very hectic, and finding time to make healthy lunches isn’t always the easiest task. However, preparing your meals in your dorm room or apartment ensures that you know exactly what is going into your food. Before you go grocery shopping , look in your cabinets, refrigerator and freezer to see what you already have. Get creative and think of ways to use these items for meals during the week. If you need food to go with what you already have, make a running grocery list for when you have time to hit the supermarket.

When you go grocery shopping, make sure that you aren’t rushed; give yourself time to read labels and compare ingredients to ensure that you pick the healthiest option. Stick to your shopping list and avoid buying sale items just because they are a good deal. On a college student’s budget, it is pointless to waste money on food that you aren’t even going to eat. Buy fresh fruits in season for better savings, and you can always buy frozen fruit and store it in the freezer for smoothies or oatmeal later on. Same thing goes for vegetables–try frozen vegetables that you can warm up in a pinch. Canned beans are great to add on top of salads or incorporate in pasta dishes, but be sure to rinse them off to decrease the sodium.

Here are some quick and healthy lunch ideas for you to try when you get back to school:

Grilled Chicken Cobb Salad


  • 2 cups mixed greens
  • ¼ cup sliced cucumbers
  • 5 sliced cherry tomatoes
  • 1 hardboiled egg, sliced
  • 4 oz grilled chicken, sliced
  • ¼ cup garbanzo beans, rinsed
  • Dressing of your choice


  • Pack a small plastic container, starting with mixed greens on the bottom. Layer the cucumbers, then cherry tomatoes and garbanzo beans. Top with hardboiled egg and sliced chicken. Add dressing when you are ready to eat, and enjoy!

Hummus Turkey Roll Up


  • 1 whole wheat roll up or wrap
  • 2 tablespoons hummus
  • 4 ounces fresh turkey slices
  • 1 roasted red pepper
  • Handful of cut lettuce


  • Spread hummus onto rollup or wrap. Layer the turkey slices, and top with roasted red pepper and lettuce. Roll up and wrap in foil for a quick and easy portable lunch.

Berry Protein Power Lunch Smoothie


  • 1 cup frozen or fresh strawberries
  • 1 ripe banana, sliced

You can pre-slice a banana and place it in a plastic bag in your freezer as an alternative.

  • ¼ cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar
  • 2 tablespoons smooth almond butter
  • Dash of milk or milk alternative


  • In a blender, combine the berries, banana slices, yogurt, agave nectar, and almond butter. Add milk to reach the desired consistency. Blend until smooth. Pour in glass or portable mug and serve.

Take the time to make some of these quick and easy lunches yourself. Try the smoothie alongside the salad or wrap for a filling and complete meal. Look through your pantry and be sure to buy some portable containers for an effortless on-the-go meal.


Photo Credit: Emily Carlo

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