- Be creative! Try not to make the same thing every day. If you have a sandwich on Monday, bring a salad on Tuesday. Variety is the key to not getting stuck in a peanut-butter-and-jelly rut.
- Skip the processed foods (like single serving packs of chips) and opt for fresh ingredients, like sandwiches and salads that are made with in-season herbs, greens, fruit, vegetables, and cheese. Nuts, sliced carrots, and popcorn are great for snacking.
- Avoid sogginess by packing food items in different containers. Place salad dressing in a small tupperware and greens in a large ziplock baggie. Dress and assemble the salad just before you plan on eating.
Keep reading for the rest of my tips.
- Make sandwiches more exciting with interesting condiments. Rather than using a standard mustard and mayo, slather on pestos or tapenade.
- Turn last night's leftovers into a whole new dish. If you had steak and potatoes for dinner, throw slices of steak and chopped potato into a pita with mint, tomatoes, and store-bought hummus. Have chicken and veggies? Toss leftover chicken and veggies with cooked pasta, herbs, and crumbly cheese to make a hearty pasta salad.
- If packing lunch for a loved one, put it in a special box or container and add a note. A simple, "enjoy your lunch! xo" can go a long way if someone is having a rough time at work or school.
- Don't forget dessert. It's nice to finish lunch with a little something sweet. A piece of dark chocolate or a small cookie or baked good from a local bakery are delightful ideas.
What's your secret to packing the perfect lunch?