How to Pack a Delicious Lunch For Yourself (& a Recipe!)
When I was a child I was a predictable creature of habit. Everyday I would bring the same sandwich, drink and snacks for days, sometimes months on end. I guess when your lunch had to hangout in your backpack all morning then be consumed at a desk, you quickly got comfortable with what worked and what didn’t.
While I like to believe my adult self has branched out a little more and favours a bit more variety, there is something that can be said for routine. Having a go-to lunch for the whole week, that is prepared ahead of time (or mostly prepared for a quick assembly) helps to ensure that the lunch actually gets made and brought to the office, which is definitely a bonus as brown-bagging it can save you upwards of $2,000 a year!
Lunch is an over looked and often disregarded meal. We all know that breakfast is “the most important meal” and dinner can often be a reward after a long day of work, but lunch is just as important for our health and well being. Depending on what we eat for this mid-day meal can have us feeling full of energy or dragging our feet. Here are my tips and tricks for packing an easy, healthy and delicious lunch, plus my go-to recipe that can be used alone as a salad or added as a filling to a hearty wrap.
Keep it fresh & healthy
As mentioned, lunch helps fuel our afternoon, recharging both our mind and body. Make sure you pack your lunch bag with lots of fresh, whole foods like great salads, sprouted wraps, hearty soups, and lots of snacks like fresh fruits, nuts and seeds, and dark chocolate. Don’t forget to keep hydrated and make sure you have not only a large bottle that you can fill with water (I like to add fresh herbs or lemon slices to mine), but lots of herbal teas to keep your taste buds happy.
Keep it simple
Cook once, eat five times! Think about foods that can be cooked in batches and stored all week like homemade soups, roasted veggies (sweet potatoes and cauliflower are my favourites), hard boiled eggs, or quinoa and rice dishes that can all be portioned out individually.
This food has to travel! No one likes soggy sandwiches or salads. For salads choose those that can be dressed ahead of time or carry dressing separately. Think of hearty greens like kale or chard that actually get better with a little time to soak in the dressing, or include grains like quinoa or rice that will absorb some of the excess. For sandwiches, skip the creamy spreads that can make bread go mushy and opt for things like hummus, avocado, and creamy goat cheese that still pack a ton of flavour.
Stock your desk
Lunch should never be boring, but that doesn’t mean carrying your entire pantry with you in your purse. Think about keeping a box of flaky sea salt, your favourite hot sauce, or a quality olive oil at your desk to jazz up anything that needs a little kick! A bar of good dark chocolate is also a must for any post-lunch sweet cravings.
Get the right containers
The right containers are not only good to look at (we eat with our eyes!) but help prevent spills in our bags and are good for the environment. Plus investing in a few will help you portion out your batch cooking meaning you can just grab and go the morning of.
Tempeh & Quinoa Salad with Lemony Vinaigrette
For quinoa salad
- 1 package of tempeh, cut into cubes
- 1 cup quinoa, cooked to package directions and cooled
- handful of parsley leaves
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- ½ cucumber, finely diced
For lemony vinaigrette
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon honey
- salt & pepper, to taste
- Sprouted grain wraps
- Heat a little olive oil in a medium sized pan over medium heat. Add cubed tempeh and cook until golden brown on each side. Allow to cool.
- In a small mixing bowl combine dressing ingredients. Set aside.
- In a larger mixing bowl combine quinoa, parsley, carrots, and cucumber. Add dressing in parts and mix into salad (remember you don’t want excess, especially if you are going to place this in the wrap).
- Once quinoa salad is dressed you can portion into individual containers or save in one larger container. Salad will be good for 5 days in the refrigerator.
- To assemble wraps spread wrap with hummus. Scoop 2/3 cup of quinoa salad into center of the wrap and top with sprouts.
- To wrap fold in both short ends, then tightly roll from the long end. You may want to secure with a few toothpicks if you need to transport.
Lynsey Walker is a Toronto-based nutritionist, and the blogger behind the food/wellness site lynsey loves food. Each week Lynsey writes about her favourite recipes, nutrition and outlook on healthy eating. By inspiring people to get back to eating real food, and fostering healthy relationships with what they put in their bodies she is on a mission to shake up the world of nutrition, and redefine what it means to eat healthy.