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Lunch Box Favorites Grow Up

Photo: Getty Images

We all remember our brown bag lunches from school. The possibly mushed PB&J, wrinkled napkin, sliced apples, and maybe (if we were lucky) a bag of chips or a few cookies. We revisited these classic brown bag lunches, but this time we decided to upgrade them beyond plastic baggies and a napkin that reads "Make good choices, love Mom." 

Although at the time of our youth we didn't think twice about what Mom or Dad stuck in those bags for lunch, now we can fondly look back and remember how great those sandwiches really were, soggy bread and all.

As school resumes and fall approaches, it's time to figure out what healthy lunches to pack. Whether you are packing for your family or yourself, the usual suspects from our childhood are always easy go-to options: ham and cheese sandwiches, PB&Js, egg salad, sliced veggies and turkey sandwiches. With these classic lunch flavors in mind, we have revamped these familiar recipes to bring you elevated healthy school lunches that both kids and adults will equally enjoy. 

Blackberry Almond Butter Toast

Sara Tane

The nostalgic flavors of salty peanut butter and sweet jelly are revisited with this sophisticated PB&J upgrade. The unsweetened almond butter is not only healthier, the addition of the fresh blackberries and silvered almonds provide texture you never knew could exist in your once gummy childhood sandwich. 

Turkey and Brie Sandwich 

This definitely isn't your average turkey sandwich. Basically a cheese board sandwiched between whole-grain bread, the combination of protein-packed turkey, sweet sliced pears and rich & salty brie will keep you energized throughout the day. Sad and flavorless turkey sandwiches are a thing of the past. 

Avocado Egg Salad

Photo: Jennifer Causey

Because it's protein-packed and easy to prepare, it's easy to see why egg salad is a lunch staple - even if we didn't like it as children. Our makeover recipe eliminated 100 calories from the traditional mayo-laden dish with the addition of avocado and pickled celery. 

Mozzarella, Ham and Basil Panini

When most of us think of a ham and cheese sandwich, bright, pink circular pieces of ham sandwiched with rubbery yellow American cheese between two pieces of white bread probably comes to mind. This sandwich couldn't be farther from the one of our childhood. Paired with fresh ciabatta bread, Djion mustard, earthy basil, and creamy mozzarella, this ham sandwich is quick to make but definitely should be savored. 

Black Bean Hummus and Veggies

Photo: John Autry

We all remember the snack-packs with sliced carrots and ranch dressing. Instead of a high-fat dip, we decided to pair our veggies with a good-for-you fat and protein-packed hummus. Serve alongside whole wheat pita, sliced red bell peppers, celery, and carrots for a lunch that won't have you dreading your veggies. 

To finish the perfect brown bag lunch, don't forget to pair these main options with a sweet dessert and something crunchy. Try these Chocolate Creme-Filled Sandwich Cookies and Zucchini Oven Chips to for an A+ lunch.