Like I’ve said before, I’m pretty OK at this whole bring-your-lunch-to-work thing.
So we’ve already covered the basics of successfully packing your lunch for work. Today I thought I’d share my 3 best quick and easy packed lunches.
These may not be the fanciest or most impressive lunches, but they are my go-tos when I’m really busy at work—and they get the job done. “The job” being feeding me mid-day so I don’t pass out from hanger.
This is probably the most “duh” of all lunch ideas, but bringing leftovers from the night before is cost-effective and helps prevent food waste. However, when bringing leftovers, make sure they will either reheat well or be OK chilled from the fridge—so, maybe avoid salads that are drenched in dressing.
I like to throw leftovers from the night before over some greens and make a salad. Confession: I stole this idea from a coworker. I have no idea why this never occurred to me, but it’s genius. In the photo above, we had grilled chicken kebabs for dinner, and I had an extra one that I put over mixed greens with some Tessemae’s ranch dressing for lunch the next day.
The Mindless Salad
A “mindless salad” doesn’t really have to be a salad—it’s just a very quick lunch that you will almost always have the ingredients on hand for. So for me, this is a salad: Arugula, dried cranberries, walnuts, chicken, and homemade dressing. It’s delicious and takes less than 5 minutes to throw together the night before.
I buy all of these ingredients at the grocery each week because I know more than likely, there will be one day where either we don’t have leftovers or I am uninspired to meal prep. To make it easier, I buy organicgirl baby arugula, which is prewashed, and Applegate Naturals precooked chicken breast. Sometimes I actually am not lazy and grill a chicken breast to have on hand, which saves a LOT of money, but having the precooked is a great backup.
Look in the Fridge
This last option is less of a planned meal and more of a strategy for utilizing whatever you have available in the kitchen. For each lunch, having a good source of protein and some greens is essential. If I’m out of almost everything, I can usually scrape by with a few staple ingredients.
Hardboiled eggs are easy to make in advance, especially if you have one of these egg cookers. At one point I thought an egg cooker was an unnecessary appliance, but then I realized the worst thing about hard boiling eggs is standing at the burner while they cook. Now I can make some eggs the night before without having to sit and watch a pot boil.
Sweet potatoes are another ingredient I usually have on hand—plus, they keep well so if I end up not using it, I can save it. The easiest way to cook a sweet potato is a tip I learned from Fed + Fit: Poke your holes in the potato with a fork (I usually do 4 lines of 3 holes with a fork), wrap the potato in a damp paper towel, and microwave for about 8 minutes (for a medium-size potato—adjust time according to the size). This is great for last-minute lunch packing the night before, because again, I just have to pop it in the microwave and not worry about it.
Lastly, like with leftovers, when in doubt, throw your food over some greens. I buy a few tubs of prewashed greens at the grocery each week, which come in super handy for these emergencies.
All that to say, plan ahead when you’re at the grocery store to have a few things on hand for emergencies—whether it’s a carton of eggs or some packets of tuna. Keep a few bags of frozen veggies in the freezer. ALWAYS buy some greens. Then you’ll have all the fixins for a last-minute lunch. Even if it’s not the most delicious, you managed to save a few dollars and eat something healthy and well-balanced. ❤