Packing your lunch each day is one of the best ways to save money and eat healthier. Once you get in the groove of packing lunches, it really doesn’t take up much time at all. Many would-be-packers get stuck on (a) what to pack and (b) how to get it to lunchtime looking like something you want to eat. Also, no one has 45 minutes of spare time in the morning to prep their lunch (at least no one I know). These meals can all be thrown together the night before when you are making dinner or even a few days before to get you out the door in the morning.
If you usually hit the salad bar: Mason Jar Salad
Mason jar salads are an easy way to pack and dress a salad on the go. Keep your greens from getting soggy by layering your ingredients in the right order:
- Dressing on the bottom — If you don’t have a hard veggie layer, just pack on the side
- Hard veggies (diced carrots, cucumber, celery, peppers, etc.)
- Beans (black beans, chickpeas, lentils)
- Extra firm diced tofu if desired
- Softer veggies and fruits (tomatoes, avocado, heart of palm, orange slices, apples)
- Salad greens
Keep cold in fridge or lunch box with cool packs. When you are ready to eat, just shake and pour into a bowl to dress the salad. Perfect for commuters without access to a microwave or stove at work/school.
If you are addicted to Chipotle: Rice and Beans with Guac and Veggies
Make some brown rice on the stove or rice maker and toss with lime juice and cilantro. Saute a diced onion and a minced garlic clove or two with some black beans and pack on top. In a separate container, pack guac and fresh veggies to put on top after you heat up the rice and beans at work. If you are really pressed for time, you can use store bought guac and fresh salsa to make it even easier. Rice and beans make the basis for a lot of good meals so you can do when you are making dinner. It’s also easy to make several days servings at once.
If they know your name and order at the Burger Place – Falafel Pita with Hummus and Veggies
Toast a whole wheat pita at home and add to lunch bag. Pack frozen falafel in a separate container to heat up at the office (Trader Joe’s makes a vegan version I like). Chop a tomato, 1/4 a white onion, and any other veggies you would like (shredded lettuce, cucumber, carrots, etc.) and toss together.
At the office, Spread pita with hummus (bring a single serve container for ease), add heated falafel, and top with veggies.
No falafel? Try store bought baked tofu instead for a no-heat meal (like in the picture above). No pitas? Vary up the bread. There are so many options to keep you from getting bored.
If you love that Asian fusion bistro – Soba Noodle Stir Fry
Stir fry tofu, onion, and bok choy or broccoli together with toasted sesame oil. Add in soba noodles (cooked) and flavor with soy sauce, red pepper flakes, and rice vinegar to taste.
Reheats easily and can easily make dinner one night and lunch the next day for 2.
If you are a regular at the deli or sandwich shop – Grown-up PB&J
Toast two slices of a hearty whole grain bread. Spread both slices with almond or peanut butter and top with sliced apples, pears, or your favorite fruit preserve. Pack with a side salad in a pint mason jar or sliced veggies and hummus for a quick and easy meal that doesn’t need reheating.
What’s your go-to packed lunch?