Bringing Lunch

We all know that bringing a lunch to work is less expensive and usually healthier. But it can be a hard task to keep up with if you aren’t prepared. Here are some tips that have helped me bring my lunch at least 95% of the time.

My Work Lunches
A few of my past lunches. Want to see the details? All these lunches are on Flickr.

First, develop a system for carrying your lunch. It could be a fancy lunch container, but it could just as well be a nice bag to hold your ancient mismatched containers. The key is to give yourself an option that makes you look forward to bringing your lunch so you’ll do it more often. Make sure it fits your lifestyle – if you don’t do dishes daily, you might be better off with a few identical containers.

I own a Mr. Bento and Mr. Bento and use them often, but if I hadn’t had an amazon.com gift certificate to spend, I would have been perfectly happy bringing reusable tupperware-style containers. My current favorites are Ziploc Twist & Loc, and I also love reusing glass jam jars like the beautiful ones from Bonne Maman.

Second, narrow your food options. What type of lunch food satisfies you? Not just your hunger, but your senses? You might like biting into a sandwich, or you might prefer something that requires a knife and fork (I do – it makes me feel like I’m eating something substantial). Do you have a microwave at work? Is messy or fragrant food going to be a problem? These questions will give you a place to start.

Third, develop a formula. Preparing lunch is a lot easier if you don’t have to think about it too much. Usually I’ll prepare a main dish and a side. I don’t mind leftovers and don’t require variety, so I usually make a large quantity of something on the weekend and eat it for several days. If you do crave change, think about freezing a portion of each dinner you make for later lunches.

Here’s my basic formula:

Main dish favorites:
Turkey patties (usually spiced with curry)
Veggie burger on an English muffin
A chicken dish that reheats well
Chili
Beef stew (like beef burgundy or goulash)
Pulled pork
In summer, makings for a big salad

Side options:
Grain or pasta with vegetables (today: Israeli couscous with golden beets)
Pureed vegetable soup (my favorite is butternut squash)
Frozen mixed vegetables with a squirt of hot sauce
A compact, raw salad like grated carrot or diced red pepper
Hummus and raw vegetables

Before or after:
Yogurt with a spoon of jam or honey
A piece of delicious dark chocolate
Fruit

6 thoughts on “Bringing Lunch”

  1. Pingback: Wise Bread Forums
  2. I want a Bento Box! A while ago, I found some site where this American guy who lives in Japan shows pictures of their little son’s lunchbox — oh, sorry, bento box. And they always cut the food into little cartoon characters and ugh, it’s so cute. And totally makes me want to do the same thing. But I forgot the site name. And also, I’m lazy so a bowl of soup is a whole lot easier than cute shapes.

    Anyway! That Isreali couscous looks yummy! I’ve never heard of it (just plain ol’ couscous, which I like) before but I think I’d probably like it.

  3. It looks so good! I just got a Mr. Bento for my husband and these are inspiring … I get awesome free food at work, so it makes no sense for me to bring my own lunch, but these pics make me want to do it anyway, senseless or not.

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