Pack it up!

This past Friday was “National Pack Your Lunch Day” (yes, it seems there’s a day for everything) and it inspired us to get thinking about more creative ways to get us excited about lunchtime. Forget the boring brown bag – we’re revitalizing lunchtime with some fun additions to pump up your basic lunch from home and tantalize your taste buds with the promise of a delicious, mid-day pick-me-up!

Our first step – forgo those pb&js for something a little more exotic and healthful. Such as, this butternut squash and cranberry quinoa salad from Katya at Little Broken blog…

  • 3 cups butternut squash, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa (I used rainbow quinoa but any type will do)
  • 1½ cups water
  • ⅓ cup dried cranberries
  • ⅓ cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. toasted pumpkin seeds
  • salt and black pepper
Balsamic Vinaigrette
    • ½ cup olive oil
    • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
    • 1 tsp. honey
    • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
    • 1 garlic clove, minced
    • salt and black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the butternut squash with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Arrange coated squash on a baking sheet in a single layer. Roast for 20-25 minutes or until squash is tender and lightly browned.
  3. While the squash is roasting, rinse quinoa under cold water until water runs clear. Place quinoa and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook partially covered until liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes.
  4. To assemble the salad, combine the cooked quinoa, roasted squash, cranberries, red onion, toasted pumpkin seeds in a large bowl. Add the vinaigrette and mix until combined. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Chill in the refrigerator for couple hours and serve.
Balsamic Vinaigrette
  1. Whisk all the ingredients in a small bowl until combined. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

YUM. Now, that’ll get us excited for the lunch hour any day of the week! It’s fresh, flavorful and gluten free (a must for the McKenzie household).


Another bonus to this salad, it’s beautiful to boot. You know they always say you eat with your eyes before your stomach, so we should make our food look as appetizing as possible. One way to do this is to drop the tupperware and serve your lunch in a dish more deserving of the effort you put into your meals. That’s where our melamine dishware comes in. It’s as beautiful as fine china, yet as durable as your plasticware. Bottom line, it’s brilliant and will make your lunch look lovely as well!

And how’s this for synergy – also last week, we also received an e-mail with a link to a post on The Edit about & “Recipes To Pack For Lunch This Week.” Wowzas… We don’t know what to go for first, the “Farmer’s Market Bowl” or the “Avocado Club Sandwich With Marinated Portobello Mushrooms?!?”

Although any of these amazing-sounding recipes are sure to elevate your traditional lunchtime fare, another easy way to make more of your packed meals are fabric napkins. We’re BIG fans of a classic fabric napkin and use them all day, every day. Steve and Jill have even been known to bring them on roadtrips!


Wrap your utensils in a fun fabric napkin and take your lunch to the next level!

So, please share – what are your favorite ways to make your typical weekday lunch a little special? We’d love to learn!