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Nutrition: Brown Bag Lunches

Tips For Better Brown Bags:

Splurge: If you are brown-bagging to work, you are automatically saving money by not eating out. So by all means, make your food more enticing than the local fast-food chain's. Make prosciutto, tomato and basil sandwiches, or pick up a roasted chicken in the deli and pack a portion for lunch.

Grilled Thrills: Nothing adds more flavor than grilled foods. Add grilled veggies (onions, zucchini, eggplant) to your lunch kits. You can bag them separately then add them to a normal sandwich to make it extraordinary. Especially good with goat cheese.

Lunch-pooling: Form a lunch-pool at work with 4 other persons. On one day of the week, one person makes lunch for all. It's easier to make 5 of the same lunches at once than to make 5 different ones every morning. Plus, it adds variety (just make sure you all share the same tastes in food).

Zip Those Chips: Instead of costly pre-made single serving packs, use sealable plastic bags and even mix up your favorites. Some of them, like those tasty bean chips, vegetable chips and garlic bagel chips, don't come in single server packs.

Stop the Sog: If you are using moist vegetables or condiments, bag them separately then add them to a sandwich at lunch. No more yucky bread.

Condiment heaven: Explore new condiments on your sandwich. Sun-dried tomato spread is a personal fave, as is horseradish, Chinese mustard, spreadable goat cheese and Caesar salad dressing.

Don't Forget Your Lunch: Drop your car keys in the bag. You’ll never get to work without them.

Ice packs: a number of reusable ice packs exist, but you can also freeze those little individual juice containers and let them thaw until lunch time.

Nuked Food: Does your workplace have a microwave oven? Perhaps even in the vending machine area? If so, a world of great eating awaits you, especially if you plan your leftovers strategically. A hot lunch on a cold day really satisfies. And the aroma of a hot roasted chicken, reheated, will make you the envy of the room.

Thermos: Whether for chilled or hot foods, prepare your thermos by either filling it with either iced or boiling water beforehand. It will more efficiently keep your foods the correct temperature -- not just more pleasurable to eat but safer. Remember: keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold to avoid food poisoning. .

Nuts to You! One of the most boring things about brown bag lunches is the lack of variety and texture. Adding nuts or sunflower seeds to salads, soups and even sandwiches makes for crunch appeal. Try some toasted, spiced pecans in your bag instead of chips.

Five-A-Day: Remember that vegetables are good for us all. Focus on fun ways to eat them. Fresh vegetable relishes are tasty to pack and snack on. Try grilled corn and red and green peppers; black olive, tomato and grated cheese; red onion, oranges and cilantro. Pack some hummus dip, cut them with cookie cutters, grate them into a salad, roll raw veggies in chili powder, lime juice and salt...