Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Leftovers to Lunch: Taco Salad and Portion Control

Packing your own meals can also help with dietary restrictions due to allergies, food intolerances, lifestyle choices like vegetarianism, etc. Never again be stuck at a family function, party, or event where there's nothing "safe" for you to eat!

Packing in reusable containers versus disposable baggies or using "individual serving size" packaged foods is not only great for the environment, but gret for your pocketbook! Even if you want to use packaged foods, buying a larger bag of chips, for example, and portioning it out yourself, is cheaper than buying the smaller baggies - and you get more control over how much of a portion you want to pack! Many kids would get full on a small bag of chips, and not have much room for anything else. But you could pack just a few chips so they felt like they got a treat, without giving them enough to ruin their appetites!

Packing your lunches is also a great way to use up leftovers, either from home or from eating out. You can even change them up a bit to keep them fresh and exciting, like cutting up leftover pizza to make kabobs, Pizza Dippers, or Pizza Bites, or using leftover chicken chunks or nuggets to make BBQ or Ranch Chicken Skewers!

I prefer using the EasyLunchboxes, but really any reusable container(s) that you like using will do. Modular systems like the Rubbermaid, Goodbyn, Laptop Lunches, or Yubo work just as well as the segmented ones like EasyLunchboxes, PlanetBox, and Bynto. More separate places to put food help you pack a larger variety of food groups, colors, and flavors, for a more appetizing meal!

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Dried oranges with coconut chips, GF corn scoop chips;
organic lettuce/cabbage mix w/ grape tomatoes, cheese shreds, meatless crumbles, refried beans

I had been pleasantly surprised at how tasty the leftover taco night salad was that I had made the day before, so I wanted to make it again. But I had just tossed everything in together, and it was quite unappetizing-looking. Like dog food salad. So this time I made sure to pack my lunch to be more visually appealing. 

I liked scooping up taco salad bits and eating them with the corn chips, so instead of bringing the whole bag, or filling a zipper-seal baggie, I limited my chips by only packing as many as would fit in the medium compartment of my EasyLunchbox

The dried oranges and coconut chips make a very nice diet-friendly dessert. Neither have any added sugar (the coconut chips are sweetened with coconut milk, however,) and are fairly low in sugar compared to most dessert-y items. But they are both soooo yummy! So it feels like I'm "cheating!"

My lunch was meant to be gluten-free as well, but I apparently totally spaced while reading the ingredient label on the meatless crumbles. I ended up making myself sick all week as I kept eating the leftovers! Doh!

Because full-looking dishes are more satisfying than small portions in large dishes, I try and limit treats to a mini muffin cup for my daughters. (I'll use a regular muffin cup for larger items like chips or pretzels.) Just like a single scoop of ice cream looks sad rolling around in a large salad bowl, but looks just right on a cone, choosing the right dish sizes for your foods can make all the difference when you're working on your diet using portion control.

Silicone muffin cups are a great eco-friendly way to add a lot of "full" looking portions to your meals, and they can add a nice splash of color as well. They also help to keep foods separate in your lunch box, for when you want to keep dry foods away from moist ones until lunch time. And for things like salads, having the different elements separated can make the same-old same-old salad more interactive and fun again. Opening your lunch to see a blobby mish-mash of foods is not nearly as appetizing as a lot of colorful little dishes waiting to be sprinkled and mixed in.

They also allow you to remove some elements of your lunch for easy re-heating; you can either have the items needing to be warmed in the cups to go into the microwave, or use the cups for the items to stay cool and pull those out to reheat the rest of the lunch box.

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1 comment:

  1. What do you know, I also made a taco salad bento today! Yours looks delish!


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