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Lunchtime Tips

My little sister Trish recently began her career as a working woman. Now that she is confined to an office for eight hours a day she has realized the importance of packing a filling and healthy lunch. To help her out I've put together a bunch of lunchtime tips. These helpful hints can be applied to both those who are in the work force and those who are in school.

  • Maintaining variety is vital to brown bagging. Having the same lunch every day can be incredibly depressing. With creativity, a delicious lunch can totally brighten your day.
  • Make your food more alluring than the nearby fast food chains. Sandwiches with quality ingredients like proscuitto, mozzarella, and fresh herbs will have you looking forward to lunch in the morning.
  • Don't buy single serving packs of chips. Instead pack a small amount in a zip lok baggy. This discourages over eating and saves money.
  • For the rest of my tips, including how to stop sandwich sogginess,

  • Make lunches in separate compartments to avoid soggy lettuce or soggy bread in sandwiches. For example if you bring a salad, put greens in a large tupperware. Stick each of the ingredients (chopped tomatoes, garbanzo beans, sliced mushrooms, etc) in small plastic baggies. Wrap any cheeses in foil. Place the dressing in a small tupperware container. Add the baggies to the tupperware of greens when packing the lunch. Do the same with sandwiches.
  • Keep fast food packets of mustard, ketchup, mayo, salt, and pepper in your desk drawer for days when meals lack luster.
  • Jazz up sandwiches with interesting condiments. Olive tapenades, sun dried tomato pestos, or horseradish mayonnaise will add excitement to turkey and cheese.
  • Pack lunch in a cute fun container. It will make an emotional difference and is a nicer presentation than a brown bag.
  • If your office has a microwave or toaster oven, bring leftovers for reheating.
  • Invest in a thermos because they can retain both heat and cold. Before filling the thermos, pre-fill with either boiling water or ice to ensure maximum warmth or coolness.
  • Don't forget to wash your lunch containers!
  • If you are making a lunch for a family member or loved one, include a simple note or clipping inside. Sometimes, all it takes is an, "Enjoy your lunch!" to turn someone's day around.
  • Remember we all need to eat lots of fruits and veggies, so pack them in your lunch.
  • If you are friends with some folks in the office, organize a lunch pool where everyone makes lunch one day of the week. You'll only have to make lunch one day and it's easier to make five of the same lunch rather than five different lunches.
  • If you stick to your meals, reward yourself every once in awhile. Go out to eat with a friend or treat yourself with a cookie from a local bakery. Likewise, allow kids to get lunch from the school cafeteria every once in awhile.
  • What do you do to make your lunchtime more exciting? Please share your tips and ideas below!

Join The Conversation
ma9321 ma9321 10 years
I bring my lunch to work everyday. I usually make extra when I cook dinner and bring the leftovers for lunch. I also pack everything that's refrigerated the night before. I make my breakfast in the morning and pack it up with my lunch and eat it when I get to work. Everybody had some great tips! What are bento boxes?
lexichloe lexichloe 10 years
Wonderful ideas! I'm the worst for eating out, EVERY day! Maybe I'll try this.
Vexedlovely Vexedlovely 10 years
I have the bento boxes, and my snoopy tupperware to make me happy. I also bring nuts in a small container and keep them in my desk drawer when i feel like snacking. Also water and green/barley tea in the fridge. not giving myself any excuses to not eat right!
beingtazim beingtazim 10 years
great tips! its so hard to get the energy to pack lunch in the morning so i do it in the evening on days when i will be away from home for most of the day!
lexichloe lexichloe 10 years
While I believe in packing your lunch to save money, if you can't, I rely on going to a deli, or a chain like ABC or Panera. Both places you can get a great well-balanced lunch, and some much needed reprieve from work.
redhot redhot 10 years
very good tip
gruaig_rua gruaig_rua 10 years
I want a bento box too! I must check if I can order online....
chiefdishwasher chiefdishwasher 10 years
Party, you don't make Party sister's lunch for her each day.
BethS BethS 10 years
Thanks for the link, Esagashi, now I want a bento box!!! So cute and creative!
mellie_608 mellie_608 10 years
Thanks for all the great tips, I'm about to leave a job where I had food "at the ready" for a job in an office, so I'll need lots of great ideas for lunches!
ErinM ErinM 10 years
The worst part of packing your lunch is having lunchtime roll around and your prepacked lunch sound completely unappealing!
ALSW ALSW 10 years
I bring my lunch almost every day of the week and I love it! I always make it the night before and then it's ready to go in the morning. Great convenience.
Brians-Girl Brians-Girl 10 years
bring lunch does save tons of money! good thing i live super close to work! so i just go there and make something to eat at lunch.. really helps in the whole saving money department! :)
Esagashi Esagashi 10 years
I've begun packing Japanese Bento-style lunches for my boyfriend and I when we know we'd otherwise have fastfood for lunch! Check out my fav site on the subject for ideas: Happy Packing!
syako syako 10 years
Lucilu, I find the best (and only) way to prep is to do it the night before. Along with washing my face, brushing my teeth, etc. one of my nighttime rituals is packing my lunch for the next day.
vilas79 vilas79 10 years
Awesome, thanks!
LuciLu LuciLu 10 years
great ideas! my issue is finding the time to prep all this! :)
tshellyedwards tshellyedwards 10 years
What great ideas, ladies! :D I, too, have the salad thing down... all toppings go in separate snack bags. I love to have something crunchy in my salad, so I opt for either toasted almonds, or whole grain croutons. I also attempt to pack at least 4 days out of the 5. Not only does it save me money, but I eat so much healthier. :) Like fashionhore, my hubby and I make enough food to have leftovers for lunch either the next day or the day following, and we do this throughout the week. ALSO - for all you salad lovers - the best bet in making sure you actually use all your lettuce (instead of half of it sitting in the cripser drawer in its baggy) is to wash it immediately when you get home from the grocery store or market, spin it, and then cut it ALL up and put it in tupperware containers and put it in your fridge for easy access for dinners at night or when putting your lunch together for the next day. That's a tip from Rachael Ray... and ever since my hubby and I heard that tip, we've never not eaten all our lettuce in the fridge! ;)
ur_momm ur_momm 10 years
i try to bring in lunch 4/5 days at work, (leftovers or salad) Often I will make a salad, (dressing in seperate container) and then bring a can of tuna (the falvored ones with the pull lid) and throw it on top. Also, if i really dont have the time, its always good to just have a few instant meals lying around. my favorite is chilli that you just add water and microwave (and its vegetarian) they are a little pricey (2$ each) but it beats paying 15-10$ for the same thing in a restaurant. using really yummy bread will improve your sandwich so much. buy alfalfa sprouts and tomatoes and cucumber and peppers... go crazy with toppings to make things less boring (if you put all the veggies in a ziplock, the bread wont get soggy)
fashionhore fashionhore 10 years
I have spices, raisans, tea bags, and instant oatmeal packets in my desk as well as condiments. That way when my water is getting boring, I use a tea bag, or when I skip breakfast, I have breakfast at work so I get it. I love eating leftovers for lunches. I generally make a normal sized recipe for my bf and I for dinner just so we have leftovers for work. It helps cut down on plastic bag use and it's easy to get ready for the next day. My fav. for when fall comes around is to make a large pot of chili or thick soup and a loaf of sour dough or rye bread just for work.
dcmurray1970 dcmurray1970 10 years
really cool ideas, thanks
BethS BethS 10 years
Oooh, I like the wrapping a salad in a tortilla idea!
Lovely_1 Lovely_1 10 years
Sweet! I eat lunch at work as much as possible and these are great tips to follow!
sophlb sophlb 10 years
There's a great salad container at the Container Store that stores the dressing in the lid. When you're ready to eat it, you just pop it out & shake it up. I like to make a salad with chicken and maybe strawberries and then assemble the salad (adding something crunchy later) and wrap it up in a tortilla. That way it's not soggy. Also, since I like to pack potential soggy elements seperate, I have a lot of small tupperwares...that way I don't produce a lot of garbage!
piraterie piraterie 10 years
Excellent ideas! I usually let myself go out for lunch once a week to a really delicious local soup place, and I bring a lunch the rest of the week. I have a couple bento boxes which are nice because they have compartments and are small enough so that I'm not going to bring too much food. And they're cute - I want to eat out of them! I usually end up eating leftovers (cold pasta salads with soba or somen noodles and lots of veggies are always good), although I've been making more fun sandwiches lately.
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