The four essential tips for packing a great lunch

packed lunch

So you don’t eat out.  Keep up your healthy diet and save money!

fast food

Keys to success

  1. Variety
  2. Satisfaction
  3. Safety
  4. Change of Scenery

 

Variety

The first key to being satisfied from a lunch from home is variety.  Bringing lunch from home every day can get BOR-ING.  So you want to have a couple of options in your arsenal to keep things interesting!

The basics

Sandwiches

The key to a delicious fresh sandwich is deconstruction.  You want to keep dry with dry and moist with moist.  Wrap your bread separately in plastic wrap.  The meat, cheese and lettuce are together, the vegetables are together.  Dressings completely on the side.  I make my husband a sandwich most days, as I’ve mentioned before he doesn’t like anything creamy like mayo.  But he does love a good sub dressing, I use these great little containers and make a special sub dressing of oil, vinegar, sriracha (you don’t even understand how much sriracha he consumes) garlic and salt and pepper.

Salads

Salads are the same as sandwiches, deconstruction.  ESPECIALLY lettuce.  Lettuce gets soggy, slimy and just gross.  So I’ll throw all my ingredients into a Tupperware container, and the lettuce in a separate baggy to be tossed in later.  Again, dressing on the side.

Grain and pasta based salads are fantastic for lunches because they really do hold up really well.  Grains like quinoa, farro, wild rice are all great options.

Bento Type This one is my favorite.

It’s perfect if you’re on the go and don’t always have the time to SIT and EAT.  If you are like this, dude, I hear ya!

This is also the best for variety because the items you can pack are endless.

I use these silicone cups with the box.  I actually bought these for baking.  And honestly they’re great for that, especially when you’re cooking for one, who wants to dirty a whole pan?  But they’re also great for portion control of snacks and keeping your bento box clean.

Hot

The trickiest, but perhaps the most satisfying?  Also a great way to use up leftovers from dinner.  Like say when you make a huge and amazingly tasty Tamale Pie?

Make sure you use a proper container.  First never NEVER reheat food in plastic or Styrofoam.  The chemicals from the container melt and leech into your food.  ick!  Also, never microwave metal.  Unless you like sparks.  Which you shouldn’t unless it’s the 4th of July and hot firemen are regulating them.  So the solution: glass.  When I moved to Denver, I ditched all my old Tupperware and bought this glass set.  It’s great for cooking in (oven safe) storing in (refrigerator safe) and reheating in (microwave safe).  Oh right, then cleaning in (dishwasher safe).  The only safe it’s not is dropping safe, so you know, be careful!

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Here are some tricks for reheating in a microwave.  If you have a toaster oven at work, then that would be the preferred reheating method for most things.  If you have to use a microwave, the first thing is to understand how it works.  A microwave heats (1) fast (2) dry and (3) from the outside in.  So cutting a casserole portion in half or quarters will help it heat more evenly.  Stick a cup of water in the microwave to heat and steam along with you food to keep your lunch moist.  Or top your plate with a damp paper towel.  Also, understand, that while a microwave tends to dry food out, it will not crisp.  Anything breaded or a casserole with a crispy topping, should be avoided because it will be soggy.

 

Satisfaction

Key #2 to bringing lunch to work is making sure you bring a lunch that will be satisfying.  Most important element of that is filling.  You’re at work for 8+ hours, you do not want to be hungry and therefore cranky.  So a small cup of soup or the equivalent of a side salad is not going to fill you up.  Look, I get it you’re busy.  We all are.  But take the couple of minutes on Sunday night to plan and prepare good, delicious, filling and satisfying meals for the week.  You’ll be less miserable, less likely to grab a cupcake with your afternoon Starbucks run and less likely to hit the dreaded vending machine.

Safety

Please don’t forget the rules of food safety when it comes to bringing your lunch.  Either put it in the fridge.  Pack one of those lunch box coolers.  And at the very least, if you don’t have access to keeping your food cool, don’t pack foods especially susceptible to food poisoning- anything creamy, cheese and/or meat.

Change of Scenery

One of the biggest perks of eating out is the simple change of scenery.  So while this topic could probably be filed under satisfaction, I thought it warranted a topic all it’s own.  So grab a friend or a book, and get. out.  A park bench, under a tree on a grassy spot, wherever is nice, relaxing and most importantly AWAY.  Give yourself a 30-60 minute change of scenery.

Ok be honest, how many days a week do you bring your lunch to work?

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