We can all agree that buying lunch every day can do a number on your wallet, and potentially your body. A packed lunch is certainly better for your financial health. But sometimes packing a lunch is just … HARD! Whether you’re busy getting your kids ready, doing last minute preparation for work, or whatever it may be, the mornings seem to slip away. Don’t let lunch prep slide off of your to-do list.
We consulted some of our resident BCL lunch packing experts on the art of the packed lunch to help change your mindset about this task. Let’s make this a culinary adventure!
Set reasonable goals! And bring delicious leftovers -Jodi Kantor
Jodi’s mission is to finish her book without buying lunch more than ten times – totally doable, we believe in you Jodi! Jodi and her husband also use a food delivery service called “Fill Your Fridge” from R&D Foods for healthy weekday dinners; the portions are large enough that she can bring them for lunch too. Sounds economical and delicious!
Bring something quick and versatile – Anders Ramsay
Anders is KING of the salad! He has cultivated the art of packing a salad for lunch through much practice. He says that early on his salads were bland, making lunch (understandably) less enjoyable. He found the secret is to add something to give it a bit of zing; some of his recommendations include feta cheese, hot/sweet peppers, finely chopped ginger root, lemon juice, red chili pepper powder, oregano, and spicy mustard. Anders also adds some protein so the salads keep him full. Delicious and of course, healthy!!
He sometimes posts his creations on Instagram so you can refer to his photos for more inspiration: https://www.instagram.com/andersr/
Remember your motivations and find a system that works for you – Suzannah Schneider
Suzannah stays motivated to pack her lunch by reminding herself of all the reasons she likes bringing a lunch! First of all, she is an experienced packer from when she worked on a farm and running to the local bodega wasn’t an option. Secondly, Suzannah saves her lunch money because she chooses to prioritize thoughtful meals, such as dinner with friends, over the accumulated expense of deli sandwiches. Lastly, she finds it’s easier to focus after a lunch of simple food that cannot typically be found from takeout.
While Suzannah loves bringing lunch, she is not a lover of the Sunday meal prep recommended by many lunch packers. Suzannah prefers to make enough dinner for lunch the next day, as well as cooking a few staple items (ie grains, beans, roasted veg) and simply mixing and matching to her heart’s desire.
Think of the benefits for your body, your budget, and the environment – Aly Miller
Aly brings her lunch every day because it’s healthy, budget-friendly, and good for the environment. Because she is focused on where her food came from and how it is grown, she finds making her own lunch more straight forward. Aly is also focused on cutting down her plastic consumption and she finds it’s much easier to do this when she isn’t ordering food and eating food out of to-go boxes.
With her overarching goal of cutting down on her plastic consumption in all areas of her life, Aly always makes the time to prepare her lunches. Aly likes to cook a few different things that go together easily and keep things interesting. She is a fan of cooking a hearty curry or stew and also a big batch of roasted veggies and legumes which she can manipulate in different ways throughout the week. It’s important for her to have tasty and different lunches and dinners that are super easy to pull together.
Here are a few more tips to help with the lunch packing slump:
Spend money to save money: Invest in a quality lunch box and some nice containers so your lunch won’t get soggy or smooshed.
Think ahead and plan ahead: When you’re grocery shopping, keep lunch in mind. When packing a lunch becomes part of your routine, it will be much easier.
Pack a sizeable lunch: Because most of us adults have busy mornings and tend to be less hungry in the evening, lunch is often our biggest meal of the day. Make sure you’re packing enough food to get you through the whole day.
Pack a lunch that you WANT to eat: Break out of the idea that a packed lunch has to be the standard sandwich, apple, and pretzel sticks that your parents used to pack you in elementary school! Think of what you like to order as takeout and what you like to eat for lunch, and figure out how you can make that happen as a packed lunch! Bring a lunch that sounds appetizing to you.
Hopefully you find that these tips and tricks are helpful and inspiring. It’s important to remember that bringing your own packed lunch can make you happier, healthier, and wealthier!
If you’re looking for lunch ideas, Bon Appétit has collected a wide assortment of delicious sounding recipes to check out. https://www.bonappetit.com/story/100-lunch-ideas