Saturday, August 11, 2012

Making Weekdays Work: Lunch

Confession: I am the WORST at packing my lunches for work. If my coworkers didn't know about my blog they'd probably assume I ate take out or frozen pizza daily. I can't tell you how many times I've eaten a bagel for lunch. Or a Lean Cuisine. But a goal of mine this coming school year is to make lunch more of a priority. My issue with lunch is that I always put off packing it until it's too late, resulting in yet another stop for a bagel. So I spent some time researching it, and here's some ways to make packing lunches more effective and efficient.

1- For salads, divide your base into containers for the week. Then each evening add the toppings for the following day. You don't want to add toppings that will release moisture into the lettuce base in advance, so keep veggies/fruits/meats/cheeses separate until the day of. A great example of salad options can be found on Can You Stay For Dinner? This post is awesome and I plan to reference it often.

2- Did you know you can make a weeks worth of peanut butter and jelly and freeze them??? Yes... you can! Check out Amanda's Cooking for that lesson. This is so helpful if you have a couple kids (or a husband like mine who eats it daily!)

3- Now, this blog post is meant for kids, but I like how the writer of the post organizes the snack baskets for easy grab and go options. Check it out! I also really like her lunch boxes. I Heart Organization gives me a lot to think about when it comes to making the week easier!

4- I plan to invest in some bento style lunch boxes. Here are the ones I am hoping to buy:

Some lunch inspiration:


- "My husband and I love eggplant, I cut it into sticks and bread it in bread crumbs and parmesan cheese and I broil them a few minutes on each side. I serve it with pesto or tomato sauce for dipping. They are good warm or cold."- Micaela

-"Most of the time I just pick some combo of random things - a yogurt, string cheese, piece of fruit, veggies & dip, rice cakes, cheese & crackers, trail mix, some type of granola/protein bar, bag of crackers/cookies/chips/popcorn (which I pre-portion in ziplocks as soon as I buy them), etc. I am not one to take a lunch hour and this way I can just eat what I brought throughout the day."- Amanda

- "I also take my breakfast with me, I like to make mini quiches in a muffin tin I use leftover veggies, add some cheese and bake them. When I get to work I microwave them for 1 minute or I eat it at room temperature"- Micaela

-"We do lunch club. This has been great, and more people see it and want to join. One person cooks for the week for everyone who is participating."

-"I take a mason jar or other tall container. I put my dressing on the bottom, followed by any "wet" stuff - cucumbers, tomatoes, mandarin oranges, etc. Then I put in my protein, and then my lettuce goes on top. When I'm ready to eat, I just shake it up and everything is mixed."- Lauren

I'd love to turn this post into a discussion. In the comments please tell me what you do to make packing lunches more effective and time efficient. This is one area where I have a lot to learn! After working/taking care of the baby/making dinner, the last thing I want to do is make lunch, so the more suggestions the better. Please tell me what you do in the comments, respond to others... let's get a dialogue going here!


  1. I cook a big dish of something on Sunday only for lunches - I use a lot of recipes from here (chicken marsala casserole, chicken and wild rice!) and split into 5 containers.

    I work literally 16 hours + a day and have a 4 mo old and a 3 year old. if this didnt happen id never bring lunch!

  2. I make a Rachael Ray 30 Minute Meal, typically a pasta or pizza dish, and divide it into 5 days.

  3. Since most of the meals I make are pretty big for 2 (adult) people, instead of putting leftovers in one large container they are divided into small containers that fit in my husband's lunchbox. He works 12 hour shifts so he also takes granola bars, fruit, and veggies to add to the leftovers. He usually also takes a PB&J sandwich.

  4. I like to make something in the Crockpot on Sundays and then eat the same thing for lunch all week.

  5. Almost all of our meals have at least 4 servings (we also have a 3 year old), so our leftovers are our lunches for the next day at least 4 days per week. When cleaning up from dinner, we immediately package the leftovers up in individual servings.

    Last night I tried something new. Since my husband typically handles the morning duties and we've recently added another kid (today was his first day at the sitter and my first day back to work), I wanted to simplify things for him. I went ahead and packaged up my daughter's yogurt, applesauce, and other snacks while I was putting away dinner. I wrote on our dry erase board what things she needed in her lunch and what I needed in mine so that he didn't really need to think--just grab the bags and tubs that I'd already separated out.

  6. I am terrible at packing lunches at all, let alone healthy lunches. And packing snacks? Oh, I'm even worse. I'm definitely going to try some of these meal ideas for work so that I can improve my eating habits and my mood.