Making lunchtime healthier, tastier and mobile
If you don’t usually make your own lunch, you’re missing out on an opportunity to eat healthier, manage your time and save money.
Packing your lunch to take to your office, to school or in the car as you run errands just makes good sense, especially if you struggle with control issues like I do. Making an effort to prepare my own midday meal has been a game changer in my life. It started a couple of years ago when I was following a fairly strict low-carb diet. Food choices made at home for my packed lunches meant I wasn’t tempted to “cheat” with restaurant food. It ultimately saved me time as well as money, and I found that eating a homemade lunch left me with time to fit in a brief—but much needed—noontime fitness break.
Lately I’ve become a strong proponent of meals made at home. I save restaurant outings for special occasions, when spending the money and calories becomes a celebration, not a habit. Cooking at home lets me control what and how much I eat, both components of a healthier diet.
Taking your lunch to work has become a much easier task these days. There are abundant choices when it comes to packing food, keeping it cold—or hot— and even eating your desktop meal in style.
TOP TEN TIPS
Here are my top ten tips for packing a scrumptious lunch. Bon Appetit!
1. Be prepared. Before you start your week, get your calendar and plan lunches for the weekdays. Note days when you may not need to pack a lunch and then schedule the rest.
2. Shop ahead. Make a list on Saturday and Sunday for all the meals you will be making—lunch and dinner—and shop accordingly. Make things for dinner that will provide leftovers for lunch the next day.
3. Shop healthy. Be sure to buy things that will not only pack well, but will also provide wholesome, nourishing meals.
4. Contain yourself (and your lunch). Find containers that suit your lunch style. If you don’t have access to a refrigerator at work, invest in an insulated lunch bag. A high-quality thermal vacuum bottle will keep drinks and soup hot or cold, depending on your needs. Glass jars are convenient and easy to clean. Plastic containers are better for kids and klutzy adults…like me! If you must use disposables, try biodegradable paper goods instead of plastic—brown or wax paper bags instead of Ziploc, paper straws not plastic.
5. Don’t forget utensils. Reusable cutlery and plates are great for serving a packed lunch. Cloth napkins are an environmentally friendly choice.
6. Buddy up. If you’re lucky enough to have a foodie friend at work, you might be able to trade off lunch duty. She brings lunch Monday and Wednesday for both of you. Tuesday and Thursday, you get the duty. Friday you can go out for a salad. It’s a win/win/win!
7. Stay prepared. Keep salt and pepper, mustard and mayonnaise packets, crackers, individually wrapped cookies—anything you might need for lunch or a quick snack—at the ready.
8. Make it a family affair. Let your kids help plan the menu and make lunches for the week. As they get older, rotate lunch duty through everyone on the lunch list.
9. Pack it ahead. If you’re packing leftovers from dinner, pack them as you clean up the night before.
10. Pin it to win it. If you want to see how creative and delicious your packed lunch can be, look no further than Pinterest. Search “packed lunch ideas for adults” and go down the delicious rabbit hole. There are thousands of great lunch ideas only a keystroke away.
Candace Karu makes her living writing about food, fitness and travel. She lives near the ocean in an old farmhouse with two ill-behaved dogs and two hard-working barn cats. Follow her on Instagram: @candacekaru or at www.candacekaru.com.