Look I get it, preparing a packed lunch every morning is hard and just buying lunch everyday is so easy! I’ve justified spending a few dollars on a lunchtime sandwich to myself more times than I can count. However, while spending $8 on a sandwich and drink at lunchtime seems reasonable in the moment, buying lunch five days a week really starts to add up. That’s a lot of money that could be better spent. Additionally, store bought food is often packed with preservatives and less healthy than food made at home.
Making your own lunches everyday not only saves you money in the long run, it also means that you know exactly what’s going into your food. Furthermore, nothing gets you through the mid-afternoon energy slump like a well prepared lunch. Here are five tips to keep in mind when making the perfect lunch for work.
Allow yourself a little time every evening to find some fun and tasty recipes. Browse cookbooks or search online for recipes that appeal to you. Make sure you set up a system to keep track of any recipes that tickle your fancy, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you build up a backlog of lovely lunch ideas. Also, be sure to keep it simple, you’ll most likely be making your lunch in the morning so avoid recipes that involve a huge time commitment.
2. Plan ahead
When it comes to making a perfect work lunch every day, careful planning is crucial. One way to get a handle on your midday meal is to set up a lunch calendar. I’d recommend planning your meals at least a week in advance. If you’re feeling super geeky about it you even go as far as to plan a month ahead, it’s really up to you. Also make sure to make space for leftovers in your lunch schedule. Speaking of leftovers…
3. Love those leftovers
One of the easiest ways to prepare your daily lunch is to really embrace the concept of leftovers. It’s true that some of us have a really limited tolerance for leftovers. I tend to get really bored of eating the same meal more than twice, while my wife can eat the same thing for days or even weeks on end. Despite my fussiness though, I realise that making a bit of extra food in the evening makes daily lunch planning so much easier.
Once again, the degree to which you want to commit to this idea is really up to you. Making a large casserole or lasagne on Sunday can set you up for the entire week. Alternatively, making a little extra food for dinner every evening means that you’ll not only have lunch ready to go in the morning, but you’ll still be able to enjoy a little gastronomic variety throughout the week.
4. Up your sandwich game
Is there any food item that defines lunch—at least in the western world—more than the humble sandwich? I can’t think of one! Sandwiches are pretty much perfect for lunch, however, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut. Sure, PB&J is great and all but you can do so much better. Try different combinations of cold cuts, leftovers, cheeses, greens (rocket is particularly delicious), and breads. Not only will this expand your palate, but it will impress your foodie coworkers.
So you’ve picked your recipes, set up a meal plan, and are now ready to start preparing your first epic lunch. That leads us to the final step in lunch prep: storage! Forget boring old brown paper bags, bento boxes are the perfect lunch time option. Originating in Japan, these compartmentalised meals are a creative and fun way to prepare lunch.
Not only do bento boxes prevent the unwanted mixing of flavours and textures, they’re also a great way to keep your portions in control. You can really go with any food combinations you like, but we recommend starting out with two parts fruit or veg, three parts carbs, and one part protein. Also, feel free to be creative with color and texture combinations, the sky’s the limit!