Vegetables for a delicious (and healthy) lunch

There’s a reason that the Freshman Fifteen has become such a standard — on campus food is, as a general rule, not exactly healthy food, and packed lunches are rarely better. PB&J may make an ok comfort food, but it leaves something to be desired for nutritional value.

I’m known among my friends for always (and I mean always) having something healthy packed for my long days on campus, and not only healthy, but desirable. No stinky, rotting veggies here, and nothing I wouldn’t, well, eat myself. There are ways to pack vegetables that can get pretty weird (I do not recommend packing frozen or steamed veggies, FYI), but there are at least as many ways that are pretty awesome.

I stay on track by cooking one massive batch of meat on the weekend, and making sure there are at least 3 easy-to-pack vegetables — the favorites being sweet peppers, onions, chickpeas (or it’s awesome alter-ego homemade hummus ), cucumbers, zucchinis, broccoli, peas, and Brussels sprouts. (Yes, that’s a lot of favorites, but 16 weeks x 4-5 lunches a week and it gets boring otherwise.) My favorite ways to prepare each are…

  1. Sweet peppers: diced, sliced into sticks for easy use with a dip, or roasted or sautéed with other veggies
  2. Onions: diced and fresh (especially with red onions), sautéed alone, with meat, or with other veggies
  3. Chickpeas: there are a thousand ways to season them (I generally use cinnamon, paprika, or Cheyenne pepper based), pureed into hummus, or put into a curry
  4. Cucumbers: fresh, they are a relatively flavorless addition to almost anything, and if sliced thin, can be really good chips for dips (like hummus)
  5. Zucchinis: ever-popular as zoodles, but also pretty good as roasted chips
  6. Broccoli: roasted, no questions asked. Stick them in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, drizzled with olive oil, and salted, peppered, and garlicked to your heart’s content. This one is the fan favorite.
  7. Peas: believe it or not, this is really good added to meats, especially chicken
  8. Brussels sprouts: roasted, always roasted, and only roasted. Same temp and time as broccoli, but cut them into halves, quarters, or sixths first, especially if you want them crispy.

Those 8 are my packed lunch heroes that not only prevented the freshman fifteen, but if anything, have made me healthier has college goes on. What are your favorite packed lunch hacks?

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