Whole Wheat CousCous Salad & More Healthy Lunch Box Ideas

Have you ever noticed that when someone else cooks for you the food tastes even better? Since I am the main cook around here it’s pure delight when someone cooks for me. While my mom was in town for the wedding she made one of our favorite from scratch meals – her homemade Runzas.

 Don’t know what a Runza is – well check out the recipe hereEven though I use mom’s recipe mine are never as good as hers – even my family agrees. We are wishing we had some more Runzas Mom. Guess I will have to make them myself but they just won’t be as good as yours!

Not only did mom cook for us but Lisa, the maid of honor, also took a turn in the kitchen. She whipped up this fabulous summer salad that starts with whole wheat couscous and is filled with fresh from the garden ingredients like little tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, fresh lemon juice and fresh Italian parsley. Add some cooked chicken or shrimp and a little feta cheese and you have a complete meal. Delicious! It’s a tabbouleh type salad and you can do all kinds of versions depending on your taste and what veggies you have. Add some olive oil, cilantro or mint, garlic or a little cumin if you wish.

Whole wheat couscous is available at Trader Joe’s. I use to think couscous was a grain but actually it is a tiny coarse pasta made from whole wheat durum flour. Did you know couscous was a pasta product?

Lisa’s Whole Wheat CousCous Salad

  • 1 cup water or chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup whole wheat couscous
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup onion, chopped – use green onion or red onion
  • 1-2 cups little salad tomatoes, chopped
  • handful fresh parsley, chopped
  • juice of one lemon
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1-2 cups cooked, diced chicken – optional

In a large sauce pan combone water, butter or oil and salt. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat, pour in 1 cup dry couscous, stir well. Cover and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Add rest of ingredients. Chill. Serve as a side salad or add chicken and serve as a main dish.

Recipe adapted from Lisa Beans. Thanks Lisa!

Nutmeg Notes

This is one of those dishes that keeps well for a few days which makes it perfect for packing in a container and taking for your work or school lunch. Speaking of packing lunches – if you have to pack school lunches for your kids or need some fresh ideas for your own lunch be sure to check out my printable Healthy Lunch Box post. It contains links to my family favorite tried and true recipes that work well for packing into a lunch box. You can always find it by clicking on the My Kitchen tab at the top of this page. You will also find my Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s printable shopping lists there.

What can you look for in the coming weeks on Nutmeg Notebook? Well, recently I received a bunch of new food products to try and review. It’s so exciting to have new foods on the menu and hopefully it will kick start my desire to cook and try new recipes. I’m in a cooking slump again – seems like it happens towards the end of each season. I think I just get tired of the seasonal foods and am ready for a change of flavors.

My shopping habits are going to have to change. No longer will we need the giant containers of fruit from Costco. Hubby Tom isn’t a big fruit and veggie eater so I have to really cut back on how much produce I buy at one time. Instead of doubling recipes like I use to, we can get buy with a single recipe. The leftovers won’t get eaten as quickly so I might actually have some items to freeze. It’s going to be a learning curve figuring out how to cook for two people again!

Have an awesome weekend everyone!


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Does anyone use the FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer?

Care to share a favorite lunch idea?


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  1. Carol says:

    Love the Runzas and the salad looks great…couscous is a favorite!

    I hear you on the cooking slump. I am ready for Fall comfort foods! Just baked a batch of blueberry scones and the other day made a pot of veggie soup.

    I have a vacuum sealer but don’t use it as much as I should…always forget to buy bags. I like it for meat from Costco and it works great for block cheese.
    I am happy that I no longer have to pack lunches!

    Have a great weekend Tami!

    1. Tami says:

      Carol, I think I’m ready for Fall foods too! Soup would be awesome if weren’t so darn hot here right now. I know it will coold own soon enough and I can change up the menu along with cooler temps. I think I will check out the vacuum sealer at Costco.

      Hope you have an awesome weekend too! 🙂

  2. Sue says:

    I was planning to view your archives for the lunch box ideas….thanks for the link in today’s post.

    Last week my son started college, so there are only three of us now. This week I noticed I’m going to have to start freezing leftovers. I saw on pinterest to freeze leftover rice in muffin tins, then pop the frozen rice in a freezer bag. Sounds like it will work perfectly for my daughter’s lunchbox along with frozen leftovers

    1. Tami says:

      Sue thanks for sharing the idea for freezing rice. I usually do it in little ziplock containers. The muffin tin idea is a great one. I’m thinking the vacuum sealer will be handy for leftovers and keep them from getting freezer burnt which can be a problem around here.

      So glad my timing with the lunch box ideas link was good for you. You are also in a time of transition with your son away to college. It’s difficult to change our shopping habits! 🙂

  3. Jody - Fit at 54 says:

    Anything anyone else cooks is ALWAYS better than anything I can do since I don’t cook that much & what I do is well.. shall we say not great – but I like it! 🙂

    Everything in this post looks amazing! 🙂

    I don’t have a foodsaver but I would not mind trying one! 🙂

  4. Cammy@TippyToeDiet says:

    Cous cous is in the pasta aisle at Kroger, which is the only reason I knew it was a pasta. 🙂

    This recipe looks very similar to one I have for quinoa, and it occurs to me that with those ingredients, it would also work well with rice.

  5. Dr. J says:

    That’s sweet, Tami!

    We are finally getting a Trader Joe’s in Gainesville! Look out, I may finally be able to do your recipes justice 🙂

  6. Ann says:

    I did know couscous was a pasta. My kids love it. I bet that same recipe would be great w/ quinoa also. Sounds good. I get our couscous at costco. We had some tonight with onion and garlic. Tasty with our lemon chicken. My lunches have been super boring lately-fruit, yogurt or a protein shake. No time to plan lately. I need grab and go. I remember Runza from Nebraska. I never really got it to be honest. I’ll bet the homemade version is WAY better. It was always so greasy. Can’t wait to get our Trader Joe’s soon.

  7. Biz says:

    Good to know that TJ’s has whole wheat couscous – I can’t find it in my regular grocery store!

    I love my food saver, but its a generic brand – I can buy long rolls of the plastic at Menard’s of all places – I can cut it to any length.

  8. Renee@Mykitchenadventures says:

    lol…Tami. I just sent two kids off to college and am having to adjust to cooking for less ppl too! Seems like we are sort of in the same place in our lives at the moment. Why does that not surprise me? lol I have been thinking A LOT about how things will be when it’s just me and hubby. It doesn’t seem very comfortable at the moment, but I am sure we will adjust. HUGS!

    I have a vacuum system, but I don’t know if that is the brand or not. I used it a lot when I first got it, but then sort of stopped. The plastic you use to store in is a bit expensive…and I think that’s what made me stop.

    1. Tami says:

      Well Renee we do seem to have a lot in common! I think the empty nest will take a little time to get use to. The house is so quiet. It is strange but in a good way. 🙂 I think hubby and I have to redefine our relationship, set some new goals and find our new “normal” as a married couple with adult children on their own. Change is good as it opens us up to new challenges and experiences.

      Thanks for the hugs, I feel the love! 🙂

  9. Melissa @ Fresh Food Guides says:

    the recipe of Runzas is awesome, it is so tasty and healthy! my kinds loved it as brunches on Sunday. I am happy to feed my babies such a healthy meal! Thanks Tami!

    1. Tami says:

      You are so welcome Melissa!

  10. Sue Sheriff says:

    I often use foodsaver V3240 to make salad and I would love a sealer as I collect berries all summer to use in cooking and smoothies all winter long.

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