Bright Brown-Bag-It Ideas

If you’re counting pennies, calories or both, check out these easy lunches.

Make lunch your favorite meal of the day. All it takes is a little imagination to whip up delectible brown-bag meals that are good for your budget—whether you’re counting pennies, calories or both.

For kids, the American Dietetic Association suggests trying fun sandwich alternatives, such as using wraps or crackers instead of bread. You could also wind meat slices around veggie or cheese sticks.

Or try this recipe that’s fun to eat, no matter your age.

Asian Peanut Butter Dip With Celery 3 Tbsp. creamy peanut butter 2 Tbsp. apple butter 2 Tbsp. skim milk 1 Tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce 1-1/2 tsp. lime juice 10 ribs celery, cut into fourths Combine everything except the celery in a small bowl and whisk together until very smooth. Store tightly sealed in the fridge. Serve with celery or other crunchy fruits and vegetables. Makes 5 servings. 150 calories per serving.

Sandwiches and salads are lunchtime go-to meals, so why not enjoy some with a little pizzazz?

Apple Tuna Sandwiches 1 can (6.5 oz.) tuna packed in water, drained 1 apple 1/4 c. lowfat vanilla yogurt 1 tsp. mustard 1 tsp. honey 6 slices whole-wheat bread 3 washed lettuce leaves Wash, peel and chop the apple into small pieces. Mix all ingredients except the bread and lettuce in a bowl and stir well. Make into three sandwiches, adding a lettuce leaf to each. 220 calories per serving. (Optional: Carry the ingredients separately and assemble sandwiches when ready to eat.)

Chicken and Fruit Salad 1 lb. roasted chicken breast, skin removed 1 medium bunch spinach, washed 2 medium grapefruits, sectioned 2 medium Red Delicious apples, unpeeled and chopped 3/4 lb. seedless green grapes 1/3 c. fat-free Dijon salad dressing Tear chicken into bite-size pieces. Chop 1 c. loosely packed spinach leaves; set remaining leaves aside. Combine chicken, chopped spinach and fruit in a bowl and toss with dressing. Serve over remaining spinach leaves. Serves 4. 230 calories per serving. (Optional: Toss with dressing right before serving.)

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