Packing your lunch will save you money, and is generally healthier than what you’d be ordering in. It can be a pain to think of on a day-to-day basis, but with a little bit of planning and a few recipes that will serve as lunch for 2-3 days, you can start to make it a part of your weekly routine. If you’re a notorious Seamless customer, set a reasonable goal for yourself. Packing your lunch three times a week is a great start (better than none at all).
Dedicate at least two days where you have 30-45 minutes to pack your lunch.
I plan for Sundays (to prepare for Monday – Wednesday) and Wednesdays (to prepare for Thursday-Friday). Let’s say your goal is to pack lunch Monday – Wednesday; then you just set aside 45 minutes on Sunday to set yourself up for success for those three days.
Here are the types of things you can do on Sunday (or your prep day) to prepare for lunch for the week:
-Map out what you’re going to eat for lunch (look in your fridge first to see what you have to make sure nothing goes to waste!)
-Once you have a list, grocery shop
-Roast vegetables (carrots, potatoes, onions, mushrooms, zucchini, broccoli, the list goes on and on…)
-make a pot of lentils
-make a pot of grains (quinoa, couscous, brown rice, freekeh, bulgur wheat, etc.)
-prepare a soup or stew (when it’s chilly out 🙂
-make a vinaigrette/dressing
-hard boil eggs
-roast a chicken (or buy a rotisserie one)
Think about how you can make these items work together (obviously, the combinations are limitless!):
– greens, lentils & goat cheese
– lentils, leftover roasted vegetables and hard boiled egg
– quinoa, leftover roasted vegetables and avocado
– couscous, avocado and hard boiled egg
– brown rice, leftover chicken and avocado
Grab and go items for work (handy to have in your office pantry and easy to pack)
dips – hummus, guacamole, yogurt dips
hard boiled eggs
seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, hemp)
sea salt & pepper
Here are recipes that are good served at room temperature, cold or warm (and will keep in your fridge for at least three days)!
leftover chicken, shredded (approximately 2 breasts or 2 legs)
soba noodles, cooked according to package instructions
handful of shiitake or oyster mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
½ cucumber, julienned
2 green onions or scallions, thinly sliced
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp light brown sugar
1 tsp apple cider (or white or rice) vinegar
ginger, finely grated
Cook soba noodles according to package instructions (generally these means boil them for about 5-7 minutes). In a medium saute pan, add oil and saute shiitake mushrooms for 4-6 minutes until golden.
Meanwhile, combine soy sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar, vinegar and ginger in a small bowl. Mix with a fork. Drain soba noodles, and mix noodles, mushrooms, cucumber and soy sauce mixture. Sprinkle scallions on top. Enjoy!
brown rice or other grain (i.e. couscous, quinoa, freekeh, bulgur wheat, etc.) cooked according to package instructions, and refrigerated overnight
1 pint of cherry tomatoes
1 bunch of carrots
2 large handfuls of greens (arugula, spinach, tatsoi, mizuna, etc.)
2 green onions, thinly sliced
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roughly chop carrots and place in a medium-sized baking pan. Toss with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place cherry tomatoes in a large baking pan and also toss with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast vegetables in separate baking pans in the oven for 35-45 minutes until veggies start to brown.
Meanwhile, prepare a vinaigrette. Mix the juice of 1 lemon with approximately ¼ cup of olive oil. The general rule of thumb is 1 part acid to 2 parts oil. Put chilled brown rice (or other grain) in a large bowl. It is important for the grain to be a day old – while it’s cold it won’t absorb the vinaigrette and get mushy (which will happen if you do this when it’s hot). When veggies are done roasting, allow them to cool. Toss them with the brown rice, green onions, handfuls of greens and vinaigrette until rice is well mixed and coated.
charcuterie (salami, prosciutto, chorizo, etc.)
sea salt flakes, such as Maldon
The trick to open-faced sandwiches is having a durable cracker in your pantry. If you already have this at work, you can quickly grab any of the above ingredients (the list is endless, these are just a few examples) to create your own. It’s pretty much like a smorgasbord, which is easy to assemble once you’re at work if you have some items on hand.