The Low-Carb Lunchbox
By Catherine Newman
Go-to recipes for work day lunches, kids' lunchboxes, or even easy dinners and high-protein snacks
Luckily, I love cottage cheese. Because the number of mornings I lean sighingly into the refrigerator and end up shrugging and plunking a tub of cottage cheese into my lunch sack? It’s a lot of mornings. I don’t want to pack a sandwich, because I’m trying to limit my carbs, and I don’t want to be the person nodding off during a meeting, my head falling back, my mouth falling open, my eyes rolling back into my head while people poke each other and point. But then, sometimes, I really can’t think of what else there even is. “What even is there for lunch?” I will say aloud, to nobody in particular, and nobody will answer me.
But then sometimes I’ll get in a really great phase where I buy a few ingredients and do a little prep work, and lunch turns into something easy and special and colorful and nutritious – an actual bright spot in my day, instead of a magical-thinking exercise of peering into my lunch bag and hoping I’ll see something other than the cottage cheese I know I packed. I’m in one of those phases now, so I’m sharing these recipes. They’re perfect for packed work-day lunches, or kids’ lunchbox lunches, but the salads would also make a great dinner, and the roll-ups are nice for high-protein snacking. Salad-wise, feel free to do whatever mixing and matching you like among dressings and proteins. And enjoy the moment when you open the refrigerator and the very thing you’ll want for lunch is already there, just waiting to be packed up and appreciated.
1. Hero Roll-Ups
These really are heroes of the packed-lunch world: easy, appealing, appetizer-y finger food with plenty of protein and pretty close to zero carbs.
2. Classic Nicoise Salad
Thanks to the cool layering trick, the dressing hangs out on the bottom where it won’t make the lettuce wilty—but then, when you dump it out, it’s all perfect.
3. Tex-Mex Kale Bowl with Creamy Lime Dressing
It turns out that the cooked flavor is what lots of people might not love about kale—and if you serve it as a zippily dressed raw salad, then you eliminate that problem!
4. Basic Simple Chicken
This is just a perfect, basic chicken recipe that makes versatile, good-tasting chicken for salads, bowls, roll-ups, and whatever else you might want chicken for.
Other useful packable lunch items:
9. Lentil Salad
12. Smoky Feta Dip