In my last post I asked you for some of your favorite foods to pack in lunches. Here are some of your responses;
Caitlin said; "My favorite is a grain salad (quinoa or brown rice) with a bunch of veggies thrown over lettuce or arugula." ---- YUM!
Julie said; "You need to get your paws on some bumblebee honey dijon or deli dijon BOTH (are) staples in my office" ----- Ok, so not necessarily a lunch idea, but a great condiment suggestion!
Andrea said; "I always make sure to rotate fruits, veggies, and crackers so that there is always something new and different" ---- Yes, I do this too, and it's a great way to prevent getting bored! For example, I pack kiwi sometimes, then oranges other times, or I'll pack quinoa salad one week, and brown rice with chicken another week.
Tami had a ton of great ideas; " I make huge batches of soup with tons of veggies that can be reheated and packed in a thermos to stay hot for hours. Also, chicken fried rice made healthy at home and packed in a thermos, or cheese and Akmak crackers with fruit, or cottage cheese with pineapple also packed in a thermos, or rolls ups made on flat bread, or PBJ on whole wheat bread is a great last minute item that assembles quickly." ---- Thanks Tami! I think these all sound wonderful, especially the cottage cheese and pineapple.
Kati said; I think portable is key! I always have a bar or a baggie of (high fiber) cereal packed away in my lunch because they are easy to toss in and help ensure that I get my daily fiber per serving. ---- I agree. Lunch is a perfect time to load up on some good sources of fiber!
Mimi said; "My general rule of thumb is that anything I cook has to taste good on top of greens or spaghetti squash. Lunch solved! Sometimes I prefer a more platter-style lunch though. A few dips, lots of sliced veggies, and sliced meat." ----I love the platter-style idea! Laughing Cow cheese and turkey slices maybe? Yum!
Kelly said; "My favorite lunch ideas include homemade pizza with veggies and black beans, plus pasta loaded with veggies, veggie soup and many more, I almost always put an apple with whatever I bring for "dessert" (sometimes there is also a real dessert, some chocolate)". ---- I'm a big fan of packing black beans in my lunch. And....a Beano.
Ok, now it's time for some more of my person tips!
- Think outside of the lunch box. Does it have to be a "meal"? Or can it be a bunch of components (snacks) added together to form a meal?
Sometimes I pack leftovers or large salads, but a majority of the time my packed lunches are made of multiple "snacks", such as bags of carrots with dip, granola to put on top of yogurt, clementines, kiwi, or apples, sweet potato chips, walnuts, string cheese, etc.
- Take advantage of leftovers. Obviously it's easy to pack up the leftovers from the night before, but what if you have leftover scrambled eggs (they make a good dinner, by the way)? Don't just pack a bowl of eggs, grab a bagel and make an egg sandwich! Get creative.
- Do you have food that's going to go bad soon? Create a lunch from those foods. For example, I had some leafy greens in the fridge the other day, which I knew were starting to go bad, so I tossed them in a bowl with some dressing and added a pouch of tuna to my lunch box. Voila, a garden salad with tuna!
- Make sure you pack at least one thing you are really looking forward to. Every day I look forward to my Greek yogurt with pumpkin pie spice and granola to pour on top. I have had this every day for about a year now and I still look forward to it every day. Sometimes I even throw in a piece of chocolate :) Lately I've also been looking forward to my raw fruit and nut balls.
- Use plastic containers for easy portability, and always keep spoons, forks, napkins in the car or your office.
Some companies make containers with lids that you can put in the freezer to freeze. This way, after you put the lid on your food, your food stays cold for a longer period of time. The bowl below even has a little compartment for salad dressing. These containers are from Fit & Fresh (and I did not get paid to put them on my blog!).
- Take ten minutes the night before to prepare lunch for the next day. Many people say they don't have time to prepare lunch every day. But, you do have ten minutes. Or, better yet, take an hour on one of your days off and prepare your lunch components for the week. Another option is to just write out a list of what you plan on having in your lunch each day for the upcoming week, and hang it on your fridge or put it in your planner. Sometimes if it's written on paper and planned out, you are more likely to actually pack it.
On my days off I take about 45-60 minutes to prepare components for my lunches for the next week. In the picture above you'll see my bags of carrots and containers of yogurt. I also prepare containers with some type of cooked vegetable.
QUESTION: What's your one best tip for preparing a tasty, portable, healthy lunch?