What’s for Lunch? (other than bread)

What's for Lunch

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One of the questions I fielded most frequently at the beginning of our Strange New Dietary Journey was,

“What do you eat for lunch?”

I think the rest of the question was implied: “…if you can’t eat bread?”

Whenever we eat lunch with non-Real-Foodies, there seems to be much curiosity over the contents of our lunch bag.  (Although by now, most of our friends are accustomed to our bread-free lunches.  They know we’re weird.)

I know it’s hard to imagine life without PBJ’s, especially if there are little ones at your house.  Well, I’m here to say that there are plenty of things to lunch on other than bread, even for kids.

None of this is very earth-shattering, but I find real-life examples to be helpful.

So, here are our Real-Life, Real-Food lunch staples:

1.  Dinner leftovers:  This is what I eat almost every day for lunch.  I prefer for the boys to eat leftovers, too, because of the nutritional value and ease of preparation.

Little Brother is seldom enthusiastic about eating leftovers, however, unless it’s a favorite meal (like chicken nuggets or meatballs, etc.).   In fact, upon learning about leftovers for lunch, his response is almost always “I want different food.”  On the other hand, Older Brother has made great strides in this area and will now happily eat almost anything I place before him.  Hopefully Little Brother will follow in his footsteps….

NOTE:  I assume many of you already share this habit, but it’s worth noting: Whenever I cook a meal, I double or triple the recipe.  This provides enough leftovers for several dinners, as well as a few lunches.  I try never to cook more than four meals (dinners) each week.  Because, goodness knows (!) I have plenty of other things to do…

2.  Huge salad with leftover meat on top:  This is another of my favorite lunches, especially when I have to pack it to go.  Some other time I’ll share a few favorite, specific ingredients that really kick my salads up a notch.  [Update: Check out 5 Ways to Jazz up a Salad.]

3.  This-n-That:  A phrase we coined to describe the boys’ favorite lunch involving a smallish amount of a variety of items.  I always try to include at least one protein–because kids need lots of it, one veggie–because I’m trying to encourage greater consumption of those, and fruit–because they’d eat it all day if I let them, and it’s always helpful to have a bargaining tool.  (Can I get an Amen?)

Components of a This-n-That lunch:

[NOTE: Scroll down to see this same list in condensed form, without all the extra info.]

1. Protein

  • Nitrite/Nitrate-free Lunchmeat:  Our favorite is by Applegate Farms, which is sold at many grocery and health food stores.  The most economical variety we’ve found is the ham sliced on-the-spot at the deli of our local Wegmans. I recently visited Trader Joe’s for the first time (I know, I know) and was delighted to discover reasonably-priced packages of Applegate Farms roasted turkey and roast beef.  The boys love the ham, but were excited for some variety.


  • Liverwurst: We love the super-nutritious, uncured Liverwurst from U.S. Wellness Meats.  Although highly nourishing, Liverwurst is decidedly unfortunately-named.  Even for children who have yet to develop a concept of negative connotations, “Liverwurst” just does not sound appealing.  It is for this reason that Liverwurst became known at the Yankee Homestead as “Special Sausage.”

The first time I served it to Older Brother, I just couldn’t bring myself to call it Liverwurst.  In a last-minute moment of panic, “Special Sausage” is what came out.  So Special Sausage it was.  Until that fateful day over a year later when, in casual conversation with a mama friend, I accidentally called it by its rightful name.  In the presence of Older Brother.  He put two and two together, but by that time was already accustomed to and quite fond of Special Sausage Liverwurst, that it was no big deal at all.  {Whew!}

We serve it by the round slice, with stevia-sweetened dijon mustard for Older Brother, and good ol’ hummus for Little Brother.

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Liverwurst, with hummus and avocado for Little Brother (left) and mustard & cheese for Older Brother (right).

  • Hamburgers:  With a whole cow in our freezer, we make lots of hamburgers.  They make great leftovers!  Older Brother likes his with the stevia-sweetened mustard; Little Brother prefers guacamole.
  • Hummus:  I’ve experimented several times with making my own, but have yet to land on a kid-approved recipe.  (Just last week, a friend gave me a new recipe and a sample.  It was good!  As soon as I can soak & cook some garbanzo beans, I plan to try it.)  In the meantime, our favorite store-bought brand is Tribe.  I’m not thrilled about the canola oil, but it’s good enough for now.  Scarcely a day goes by when someone in our Yankee Household does not consume this protein-rich condiment. 

2. Raw Veggies

We’re still working on this one.  Little Brother’s current raw veggie of choice is petite carrot sticks.  Older Brother has become a tiny bit more adventuresome and will eat–in addition to carrot sticks–small cucumber slices (just a few), thinly sliced red pepper (just one strip).  He also likes Purple Power Sticks* (aka radish matchsticks, which used to be available at Wegmans but have been MIA lately).  Both boys willing ate “Lean Greens”* last week (aka Broccoli Slaw), which was a huge deal!  Whoo hoo!

*I’ve discovered that Older Brother is a sucker for clever marketing strategies.  [So if you’ve got any good ones, I’m all ears! Share them below…]

3. Fruit

This one is self-explanatory, right?  Lately I’ve actually begun limiting the quantity of fruit served at lunch.  For one thing, although the sugar in fruit is balanced by the fiber, and fruit contains countless beneficial vitamins, fruit does still have a high sugar content.  Secondly, and of more importance to me, truth-be-told, fruit is expensive.  These boys have been known to consume vast quantities of grapes when allowed unlimited access to the grape bowl.  Yikes!  Heaven help us when they enter their teenage years…

4. Extras

  • Rice crackers:  These rice snaps are the best I’ve found, ingredient-wise.  Sometimes we do these crisps, too.  The boys LOVE rice crackers!  They’re great for making little “stackers” of cracker, hummus, meat & a veggie.  Also great for dipping!


  • Other crackers:  We like Mary’s Gone crackers, which are made mostly from seeds and brown rice flour.  Note: they do contain soy.  For this reason, we try to limit our intake of these crackers.  (Pictured above in This-n-That photo collage.)
  • Chips cooked in lard:  The oil used to cook 99.9% of commercially produced chips (including potato and tortilla, etc.) is downright Bad News.  We know this here at the Yankee Homestead, and yet we sometimes still consume regular chips.  [Would someone please start commercially producing a chip cooked in healthy oils!?]

Zerbes chips are produced by a farmer in Lancaster County, PA, where my parents happen to live.  My mother is kind enough to pick some up for us on occasion at Roots Country Market.  (They’re also available in NoVA by way of a farm drop.)  Know what the ingredients are?  Potatoes, lard and salt.  Yippee!  No, the potatoes are not organic.  But these chips are definitely a nutritional step up from regular chips.  And they’re darn tasty, too.

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You gotta love chips that come in a box printed with clever sayings. And their online info includes a home number, as well as “Marty’s cell.” 🙂


  • Raw cheese:  Older Brother loves cheese; Little Brother does not.  We found an awesome, raw cheddar at Wegmans, but most health food stores and the more upscale grocery stores should offer at least one raw cheese.  Ours is by Grafton Village, in Vermont.


  • Avocados:  Little Brother loves avocados; Older Brother does not.  {Sigh.}  I serve them in little slices, with a sprinkle of unrefined sea salt.  (And since they’re technically a fruit, but we don’t tend to think of them as such, I often assign them to a category all their own.  Sort of a fruit, sort of a condiment.)
  • Crispy Nuts: Like the beef sticks, these are more typically served as a snack at our house, but every once in a while we add a few to our this-n-that lunches.

Here’s the This-n-That list again, in condensed form:

I hope this provides inspiration for your own Real Food lunches, sans bread.
Happy lunching! 

Which Real Foods are on your lunch plate?  
Have any Veggie Marketing strategies to share? 



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Kathleen Henderson

Let's get real! I’m Kathleen Henderson, your Natural Living Mentor. I’m on a mission to help families see the joy in real food, while finding natural remedies and creating a nontoxic home. Learn more about my story >>

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