(Family Features) - With more than 8.5 million Americans brown bagging it to work*, Tyson Foods has teamed up with Food Network host Robin Miller to help families put a creative, convenient and budget-friendly spin on the traditional sack lunch.
"All too often, people make the same things over and over and fall prey to brown bag boredom," said Miller. "But with some quick fix lunchtime ideas, such as using recipe-ready chicken, it's easy to make exciting, protein-packed lunches that are sure to get everyone at the office talking!"
Here are some quick and easy ideas to makeover your lunch while keeping an eye on your budget.
Morph Leftovers into Lunch: Save time and money by taking dinner and "morphing" it into tomorrow's lunch. For dinner, flip through Robin's new cookbook, "Robin Rescues Dinner," and make Chipotle Honey-Mustard Chicken using Tyson Grilled Chicken Breast Strips. Use the leftover chicken from dinner, combine with mozzarella cheese, tomato, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and basil leaves, and stuff everything into a whole wheat pita. At the office, cook on high for 30 seconds in the microwave for warm Mozzarella Pockets with Tomato, Basil and Grilled Chicken.
Bring Your Beverage: Avoid buying a drink for your brown bag lunch by bringing a beverage from home. Beverages are often one of the most costly lunch items, whether they're from a restaurant or a convenience store. Get creative and bring your own home-brewed iced tea, lemonade or even ice water in a reusable bottle.
Jazz It Up: Add pizzazz to your lunch by adding variety, color and texture to your meal. Fruits and vegetables, like baby carrots, red seedless grapes and cherry tomatoes, will add a splash of color and nutrients to your lunch. Nuts, sunflower seeds and almonds can add crunch to salads, soups and sandwiches. For example, sprinkle a small handful of pine nuts on Chicken Pesto Penne, made with Tyson Grilled Chicken Breast Strips, to add a crunchy, nutty taste.
For more information and to get more tips for quick and easy, protein-packed lunches, visit www.embracedinner.com.
* NPD Group, More Consumers Brown Bagging Lunch, July 2008