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The Whole Deal Pack-a-Lunch Contest

Tell us what’s for lunch and you might win a $50 gift card. You know packing lunch is worth it. It saves you money vs. eating out and lets you know exactly what is going into your meal—and your body. But when is lunch worth $50? When you win $50 just for your concept of lunch! Whether you’re packing your own lunch or packing one for someone else, no doubt you’re always looking for fresh ideas to make it both tasty and healthy. Throw your favorite lunch concept into the mix below and see what you get back. It might be great ideas from other readers. And it might be a $50 gift card! We’re truly looking for both tasty and healthy, so be sure your lunch idea includes a protein, a whole grain and at least one serving each of fruits and vegetables. We’ll choose 5 winners—one for each weekday—at random from all entries that meet those guidelines and are submitted by September 30, 2010. So, tell us…what’s for lunch? We’re hungry!

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2426 comments

Comments

Sally says …

pine nut hummus, sundried tomato spread, spinach, tomato, bell peppers, portabella mushrooms, cucumber on toasted whole wheat bread (or a bagel!) topped off with some oregano and pepper, served with an apple and juicy juice juice box!

jen smith says …

I pack a salad consisting of red leaf lettuce, pre-cooked shredded chicken, cherry tomatoes, pepadew peppers, fat free feta cheese, shredded carrots, cucumber, craisins, red beats and a Fuji apple. I eat it with a double fiber honey wheat english muffin sprinkled with cinnamon.

Jessica says …

Baby spinach salad with hummus and feta cheese on it. Pita bread on the side. 2 clementines and a bottle of iced coffee for "dessert."

Jamie Outlaw says …

Today's lunch is quinoa cooked with a white onion and bell pepper mixed with eggplant and yellow squash sauteed in olive oil with basil, oregano, sea salt, and blacked pepper. To finish it off, I mixed in a chopped tomato fresh from the farmer's market. Quinoa's a whole grain and protein, eggplants & squash are vegetables and tomatoes are a fruit (but I'm also packing some fresh peaches from the farmer's market)

Jenn McGinty says …

I pack leftovers usually - anything except fish! Some of my favorites leftovers: whole wheat spaghetti with roasted summer veggies and a sprinkling of parmesan, hummus and veggie wraps with pesto and feta, etc.

Lindsey M says …

My favorite is the leftover filling from my homemade taco salad (lean ground turkey mixed with kidney beans, corn, pineapple salsa and taco seasoning) topped with a little shredded sharp cheddar and wrapped up in a piece of lavash bread. It is delicious cold or hot and goes great with some baby carrots. Also love to snack on seasonal fruit - lately its been mango mixed with blueberries.

M says …

A whole wheat wrap with chicken, hummus, lettuce, tomato, cucumber. And an apple for dessert.

Bonnie Davis says …

I love freezing strawberries and blueberries and then putting them in a container with sugar or sweetner, and a little water, and then into my lunch bag. Not only do they help keep other things cold, but by the time lunch comes, I give them a good shake and they are slightly thawed and so delicious with the juice they've accumulated at the bottom! So good in the summer!

Victoria Lane says …

One of our favorite school day lunches (as we are gluten, soy and dairy free) is our own version of "lunchables". I take turkey, ham, sometimes salami (all nitrite and nitrate free of course) and cut it into small pieces for crakers. Our favorite goat cheese (we can tolerate this cheese) currently it is gouda and drunken goat from Whole foods, sliced thin and small. Also packed is Glutino whole grain crackers or Nut thins, various flavours. We add berries or any other kind of fruit in season, and baby carrots or a small salad. Some times a small gluten free cookie. Add a Healthy Kids juice pouch, and we have a healthy, fun lunch for school!

Abi Moore says …

My all-time-favorite brown bag lunch is make-your-own fajitas! In pre-cooked whole grain Spanish rice, sliced green pepper, onion, and zucchini/summer squash. You can also add a little cooked chicken or tofu! "Cook" in the microwave. Meanwhile, from another glass container, add sliced avocado, tomato, lettuce, and cheese. Combine on a couple whole wheat tortillas! It's a hot, fresh meal that is veggie and protein packed. And for dessert? A seasonal fruit mixed with vanilla yogurt! You can also make up some fresh guacamole with blue chips for a little afternoon fiesta.

Kathy Walker says …

The lunch I pack for my boys is below. 1 whole grain wrap,spread with peanut butter, drizzle with honey, and top with sliced bananas. Organic baby carrots with small container of Newmans's Own Ranch dressing. Then one homemade oatmeal raisin cookie for their dessert and a carton of horizon organic vanilla milk.

Ashley says …

My favorite "bag" lunch is blue corn tortilla chips covered with white corn & black beans (cooked in taco seasonings), topped with cheese, lettuce, black olives in a cute little bento box. I add a big slice of mango for something sweet.

Beth Supina says …

Super easy, kid friendly and a nice healthy mix. Toast 2 slices of whole grain bread, let cool. Spread with nutella and drizzle with honey. Serve with a crisp apple and milk! yummy

Melissa Edwards says …

My favorite brown bag lunch is to take a multi grain ciabatta roll or some Ezekiel bread. I drizzle both sides of the bread with balsamic vinegar then I sprinkle some chopped garlic on both sides place so fresh mozzarella, basil, roasted red peppers, and sliced red onion on the rolls and place them together than wrap in up tightly in cling wrap. I place that onto the bottom of my bag and then pile my drink, an apple or peach, and some nuts right on top and by the time lunch time rolls around I have a wonderful pressed sandwich and all the flavors blended together so well Yummy!!!!!!

Abi Moore says …

My all-time-favorite brown bag lunch is make-your-own fajitas! In one glass container, combine black beans, stewed tomatoes, pre-cooked whole grain Spanish rice, sliced green pepper, sliced onion, and sliced zucchini/summer squash. You can also add a little cooked chicken or tofu! “Cook” in the microwave. Meanwhile, from another glass container, add sliced avocado, tomato, lettuce, and cheese. Combine on a couple of whole wheat tortillas! It’s a hot, fresh meal that is veggie and protein packed. And for dessert? A seasonal fruit mixed with vanilla yogurt! You can also make up some fresh guacamole with blue chips for a little afternoon fiesta.

Cherry Stewart says …

I like to make paninis with wf pane bigio bread, pesto, garden tomatoes and 365 mozzarella. I get a small 365 fruit yogurt and top it with chopped fruit. I also grab an apple or whatever other fresh fruit is in season for a snack. To drink-365 mineral water with lime. Yum!

Melanie says …

California veggie burger broiled. Put on pretzel roll with garlic hummus. Half an apple sliced. Handful of tamari almonds. handful of raisens. 1/8th of bar of dark chocolate.

Jamie Casolari says …

My husband works 12hr shifts, so a healthy lunch with snacks is mandatory. Greek yogurt, sprinkled with chia and sesame seeds and slivered almonds with a drizzle of raw honey is his mid morning snack. He takes a large mixed seasonal greens, salad topped with cucumber, tomatoes, red onion, basil and nasturtium blossoms drizzled with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. His main dish includes grilled salmon or organic chicken with a side of roasted vegetables, currently zucchini, summer squash and red peppers. A seasonal fruit, from our organic orchard or berry patch. Plus,a homemade batch of Chocolate Zucchini cookies , Chocolate Beet Cupcakes or Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes are his current favorites. These provide a "sweet" but I bake using organic whole grains, dark chocolate, walnuts, and I reduce the sugar and add a generous addition of organic cinnamon.I send enough to share, so he usually has co-workers drop in for his afternoon snack. Recipes are almost always requested, so we just leave a stack next to the daily treat. Everything is packed in stainless steel and glass containers so no paper waste. The produce is local and organic fresh from our garden.

Jennifer ramos says …

1 slice of rudi's double fiber organic wheat bread stuffed with applegate organic smoked turkey, sprouts, 1 teaspoon of vegenaise, 1/2 oz of smoked gouda and red onion. Arugula salad with seedless cucumber, cherry tomatoes and a homemade parmesan, lemon, olive oil dressing. Dessert is 1/2 cup fage 0% fat yogurt with 6 almonds and 2 teaspoons of honey, handful of blueberries Bon apetit

Michelle Shbeeb says …

Fresh fruit cup, Greek yogurt with honey (kept in the freezer until time to pack), Hazelnut, chocolate spread on a wheat tortilla, and a side salad (icepack) with mixed greens, sunflower seeds, tomato, cucumbers, black olives, and green goddess salad dressing. :-) That's what I am having for my brown bag lunch! :-)

Jan says …

My favorite sandwich is multi grain bread spread with 2 tablespoons of red pepper hummus, then sprinkled with sunflower seeds and crumbled feta cheese. Add a couple of tomato slices and some baby spinach leaves and close that baby up! Mini carrots on the side, and a piece of dark chocolate for dessert. Yum!

Aida Nunez says …

This is my favorite healthy lunch that I have packed for lunch numerous times. I have lost 30 lbs, eat healthy, and save money at the same time. I take low fat vanilla yogurt add frozen strawberries & blueberries. I add a banana on the side. On other occasions, I make instant oatmeal, yes, for luch and add a tablespoon of peanut butter. Enjoy trying my favorite meal !!! You'll love that it's healthy, help you lose weight, and it will save you money !!! Yes !!!!

KimP says …

1/2c cooked garbanzo beans 1 persian cucumber (2 if on the small side) 1 medium tomato, chopped 1/4 red onion, chopped cilantro, chopped juice of 1/2 lemon splash of olive oil sea salt, pepper & cayenne to taste mix all ingredients together. by the time you eat lunch the flavours will be well combined. also lovely with other chopped fresh herbs such as basil, rosemary, oregano, and thyme.

rob says …

its hard to find a veggie meal sometimes. I love to make an avocado sandwich with lettuce, onion, tomato and soy cheese on some multigrain bread. on the side, get a nice piece of fruit (whatever is in season) and a chocolate soy pudding.

Rebecca L. says …

My favorite lunch to go is a hearty quinoa salad. Unlike most sandwiches, the quinoa salad doesn't get soggy and can even last without refrigeration, depending on the ingredients inside (it's great airplane food for example!) Just cook and cool some quinoa and add your favorite veggies, cheese or protein. I recommend a nice summer quinoa lunch - try red quinoa, toasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds or a mix of both with corn, cilantro, chives, diced tomatoes, diced cucumber and topped with an avocado dressing (mix avocado with lemon juice, olive oil, salt/pepper and cilantro, plus some ground coriander if you have it for extra zing). This salad can also be adapted to the seasons - try feta, cranberries and grilled chicken with white quinoa in the fall or winter, or peas, asparagus, goat cheese and mint in the spring. Or, you can add sesame seeds, avocado, carrots, red peppers and tofu cubes for a great vegan entrée. I'd add some carrot sticks to munch on, and an apple for dessert, plus some crackers or bread to eat with the quinoa salad. It's a delicious and healthy lunch - perfect for traveling, a picnic or just a work lunch! You can also add a cookie or two for some extra sweetness of course :) Bon appétit!

Corey Williams says …

I eat lunch all day to get a balance rather than a specific lunch at noon so this may seem like a lot but it is spread out between 9am and 3pm. banana and granola or trail mix, turkey sandwich with veggies on whole grain bread or salad and my own baked sweet potato chips (YUM!), cottage cheese or yogurt and another fruit (usally grapes, blueberries or cherries).

Nancy B. says …

I love reading all of the responses here, I'm getting new ideas! My super-picky son is starting kindergarten next month. This favorite lunch is: a whole wheat mini-bagel topped with hummus or egg salad, sliced apple, and yogurt. For myself, I cook a pound of short, whole-wheat pasta at the beginning of the week, (like rotini). then each day I toss in "the ktichen sink" of whatever I have on hand (carrots, chickpeas, zucchini, etc.) and bring a side of my favorite dressing: Annie's sesame ginger. YUM!

Emily Nesbitt says …

i had this everyday one week and was the best lunch. seeds of change 7 grain rice, spaghetti squash w/ a mix of 2 fave red sauces and sometimes a little broccoli and chicken. all in one container that was even good cold, 'cause i don't like microwaving.

Leslie says …

Favorite grownup lunch is leftover protein (my faves are chicken or fish) on a bed of romaine with tomatoes, cucumbers, and scallions. No dressing needed because it's so yummy when the protein is grilled with seasoning. :) Can add brown rice or whole grain bread croutons. Favorite kid lunch (per my son!) is whole grain pasta with most any kind of sauce, peas, and protein (ground turkey or chicken). He finishes it up with a piece of fruit, a piece of dark chocolate, and organic milk.

Cindy Buckley says …

We recreate a "lunchable" with our own healthy choices. We will have "Back to Nature" whole grain crackers with an organic string cheese, sliced ham from the "Whole Foods" deli, grapes and apples, a couple of "365 All Natural Sanwich Cremes" (chocolate/vanilla creme filled cookies), and an "Honest Kids" juice pouch. It tastes better than the pre-packaged option and much healthier for my kids too! And More Fun!

Brenda Will says …

My favorite lunch is a homemade (night before) chicken salad with sliced grapes and celery mixed in, lettuce slice on Whole grain gluten Free Udi bread. Blueberries and strawberry slices with vanilla yogurt and granola (keep the granola separate). I like several crunchy veggies (baby carrots, sugar snap peas and broccoli) and usually add a mixture. My drink is usually green tea or a flavored water. We pack a no-trash lunch box by using reusable lunch wraps, bambu utensils and BPA-Free containers. I like that it covers the table area so that my son's food doesn't touch the table. Our favorite water bottle has a bite valve for no spills in the lunch room!

Christine Ang says …

Oh I have so many that I make it is so hard to choose from. I'm going to pick the first one that comes to mind :) Fresh Cucumber and Tomato Sammie Served with Edamame, Sun Chips and a Fresh SC Peach and of Course Ice Cold Filtered Good Ole Water Sammie: Toasted Whole Grain Sprouted Wheat Berry Bread Thinly sliced Kirby Cukes Sliced Vine Ripened Tomato's (just love heirloom) Paper thin Vildalia Onions Romain Lettuce Leaves Aged Provolone Cheese Mayo, Granulated Garlic, Fresh Ground Pepper and a little bit of Oregano. Love this combo but any to your taste will do! The key to this sammie is to put lettuce on both sides of the toasted bread so that i protects the bread from becoming soggy from the very high content of water from the cukes and tom's. Pile the sammie with as much of the veggies as you wish! When wrapping the sammie, make sure that you wrap it tight so that the juices do not wick into the bread. Sounds like a lot of work but nooo, The Edamame stands on it's own. A beautiful little pod of a taste explosion. Crunchy but yet soft with a little kosher salt sprinkled on top, couldn't have a better snack! Chips, you can do any chips at this point but my fav is Sun Chips! The CRISP alone is oh so gratifying, crunchy, sweet but yet salty and has a girth and is so satisfying! Love what they are doing with their packaging as well and just love that! Sweet! South Carolina Peach for the sweets!! Ohhhh so juicy and sweet this time of year :) Water! Weeeeeeell hmmm, I have gone to Z---W---- and just oh so love it!! Ice cold please!! So, I freeze bottles with my water of choice and pack it with my lunch. Keeps everything cold and is ready for my to drink when lunchtime rolls around. Try it, you'll like it, hey Mikey! ;) Christine

Janette Maret says …

My favorite lunch is my salad made with baby romaine, baby spinach, fresh bluberries, fresh strawberries, feta cheese and pecans. On the side, grilled chicken, balsamic dressing and a Seeduction roll. Yogurt for dessert. During winter months my homemade chilli made with ground Bison and black soy beans with grated cheddar cheese and sour cream on the side. Whole wheat saltines, for dessert yogurt with strawberries.

KimP says …

oh! and some avocado! yum!

Alicia says …

My son has food allergies and is a very picky eater. His lunch is usually Applegate Farms Gluten free chicken nuggets (baked not fried), apple, baby spinich, and EnviroKids Panda Bar with water or organic juice box.

Sharon P. says …

I pack an "upside down" salad. In my plastic container I start with a protein (tuna, egg, grilled chicken) then I add sliced red onion, grated low fat cheese, cherry tomatoes, some nuts or seeds for a grain and top it off with mixed greens. The light vinaigrette dressing goes in a separate 2 oz. plastic container. A dessert of fresh fruit goes in a sandwich bag. At lunch time I grab a paper plate and turn the salad container upside down onto it and....I have a beautiful fluffy "right side up" salad, without the greens crushed from being under all the other stuff! And I don't have to eat out of a boring plastic container.

Leaha Pompey says …

My husband and I have tried to save some money by packing his lunch at least 4 days a week. He enjoys a sandwich, with grapes and and apple and a packet of plain roasted almonds. For the sandwich we like the Ezekiel sprouted grain bread with homemade hummus spread, sprouts, leaf lettuce, thin slices of red onion and avocado. We usually have those items made in our refrigerator. Sometimes we add some turkey or left over chicken but we enjoy it without also.

teri c says …

grilled salmon on top of a salad of spinach, and any garden veg. i have in the frige that week. (always change them up) organic beans (1/2 cup) i use either black, kidney, or navy.top with lemon (squeezed from the fruit) and either sliced kiwi or oranges on top with small amount of fetta cheese. and chocolate cake for desert !!! lol only kidding!

Cheryl Nakao says …

Zaru udon... cold Japanese noodles (there are whole grain ones available), served with a dipping sauce and toppings (I like shredded nori and shredded carrots). Served with edamame on the side along with nice, cold grapes for dessert.

Cari Greco says …

My 3 year old's lunch today: whole wheat wrap with almond butter, diced apples, & granola green & red grape kebobs cheddar, vegan pepperoni, & vegan oven roasted turkey

Christobel says …

A japanese bento consisting of : i) Rotisserie chicken ( whole food of course) ii) Brown rice iii) Steam brocolli ( with dash of pepper and salt) iv) Japanese tamago v) Strawberry and grapes ... all these in a cute japanese bento box

Shanita Somerville says …

I would have to say my most favorite brown-bagger lunch would be home made chicken salad made with grilled chicken breasts mixed with:light mayo, grapes, three kinds of bell peppers, seasonings, generously stuffed in whole or multi-grain pita bread; accompained with a side of tomato and cucumber salad tossed in a vingarette dressing and a freshly brewed cup of iced green tea.

Reina Alvarado says …

I always pack left over dinner for lunch the next day. A recent favorite was Guatemalan Salpicon with Pico de Gallo and avocado on a tostada and grapes for a sweet follow up. The Salpicon was made with a beef roast cooked until falling apart w/ onion, garlic, salt, pepper & a fresh Habanero chili from the garden for flavor. Beef roast is shredded finely and then mixed w/ fresh chopped onion & garlic, salt and lemon. The Pico de Gallo has tomato, tomatillo, garlic, red onion, cucumber & Habanero chilies all finely chopped, fresh squeezed lemon, minced cilantro & a little salt for flavor. Avocado is sliced thinly and put on top of Salpicon & Pico de Gallo on the tostada before eating. YUM!!!

Emily Leinfuss says …

I have plain coconut milk yogurt with organic berries, ground flax seed, raw organic almonds, and sweetened with vanilla stevia. FYI because of food allergies and such, all the ingredients of my lunch came from Whole Foods !

Alicia says …

I drive around to local businesses for my job, so my lunch has to be something cold that can be packed into a lunchbox until lunch time arrives. Sandwiches and salads are ideal. My favorite is a sandwich with two slices of sprouted grain bread, such as Ezekiel bread, 3-4 slices of all-natural turkey, slices of tomato and cucumber (from garden or farmer's market when available) and slices of avocado for a healthy fat that will also fill you up. The avocado also replaces the need for sauces, which will make my sandwich soggy. For a side, I eat raw snowpeas or a mixture of green beans and carrots that I cooked earlier that morning, with some lemon juice squirted on top. For dessert, I eat a peach, a pluot or a handful of blueberries, because fruit satisfies my sweet cravings.

Jenna Jones says …

As an elementary music teacher, I get a 30-minute lunch break in between classes. My lunch needs to give me enough energy to sing, dance, and be silly with my afternoon kids! Here is a favorite lunch of mine: One cup of cooked red quinoa with a half-cup of cooked black beans, mixed with cumin and cilantro, served over a bed of baby spinach, and topped with fresh mango. I cook the quinoa and beans the night before, and assemble the one-bowl meal in the morning, except for the mango, which I slice up right before I enjoy this delicious meal.

Matt says …

1-2 cups of quinoa cooked in chicken broth, drained and dressed with a cilantro / lime / greek yogurt dressing. Served with shredded grilled chicken thighs, roasted zuchini, eggplant and a bit of fresh garlic. For whole grains, a piece of multi grain bread on the side or mix half of the cooked quinoa with half cooked brown rice. Add chopped cilaantro for color or chopped blanched rainbow chard for a super health boost. Healthy protein in the quinoa, greek yogurt, and chicken. Grains in the rice or bread.

Matt says …

I forgot to add fresh avocado to the cilantro lime dressing for a creamy richness.

Marie says …

Edamame, grapes, carrots, and hummus!!

lauren says …

-Hummus and tomato sandwich on whole sprouted grain toast -Broccoli and bok choy with fresh bell peppers -Yogurt with blueberries

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