Self admittedly, while I try and pack a lunch most days, there are some days it just doesn’t happen. One thing I know for sure is that when I do bring a homemade lunch my day always runs smoother. An added benefit is homemade meals tend to be more nourishing and can be tailored to your taste preferences and nutrition goals.
As I often travel for work I’ve become well practiced in putting together delicious, healthy meals that trek well. Part of why I “brown bag it” is the substantial cost savings. Most homemade lunches are under $3 while store bought lunches cost Canadians $10 or more. This is a cost savings of $1680 a year! Beyond the financial savings of homemade lunches, there are few things I like less than waiting in line during the lunch rush. Why spend your lunch break in a line-up when you could go for a walk, catch up with coworkers, or enjoy a moment of calm in an otherwise hectic day?
My top 5 tips for packing lunches:
1. Include lunches and snacks in your menu plan. Before you go grocery shopping, map out a week of lunches and snacks and write down the ingredients you’ll need. Edamame, crisp apple slices with almonds, frozen berries with yogurt, and carrot sticks with tzaziki are some simple snack options.
2. Limit the amount of time spent on food preparation by taking advantage of planned leftovers. Planned leftovers are a great resource and many dishes taste better the day after. Make a pot of soup, whole grain salad, or combine roasted vegetables with pasta. Then portion single servings in reusable containers for the week. When you’re in a rush all you need to do is grab a container and add a side or two.
3. Commit to packing your lunch the night before. No matter how dedicated you are, packing your lunch during a busy morning is always a gamble.
4. Stock up on reusable containers that will protect your lunch on the way to work. Glass containers are a great option because they are dishwasher, microwave, and oven safe. They also don’t stain like their plastic counterparts and have a longer lifespan which is better for the environment.
Keep your food at a safe temperature. If you travel, ice-packs and thermoses may quickly become your best friends. Some novel ice-packs include frozen yogurt containers or smoothies.