Ideas for Homemade Lunches

Yesterday, I blogged 10 (of many) reasons why I think it is important to make your own lunch for work every day, instead of eating out. (Please note the correction to the first reason I listed: I meant to say it’s $15-$25/week to make your own lunch, NOT $50-$25/week).

The first and most important step is committing to do this. If you currently eat out every day, start with a realistic goal of making your lunch twice a week. Even that will make a big difference in your health and your bank account.Once you commit, you need to figure out the best time to make it. Or, delegate the work. During my college years I spent my summers at home working at a printing company (best job ever!). My dad and I would take turns making lunches: sometimes I had to make two, but other times he’d make both. It was a good system and saved us both time. Anyway, figure out what will work at your house. If you have kids, you may have them help out. You can form an assembly line or assign them one task while you do the rest.

If your kids are resistant to bringing their own lunch, try setting up a system where they get to pick one day each week to buy school lunch, and the other four they will bring a homemade lunch. That way they won’t feel deprived, and they can get exciting about looking at the lunch menu and choosing their favorite meals.

What to pack?

The first thing I think about is the protein. Some ideas include:

• Leftover dinner (steak, chicken, beans and rice, salmon, spaghetti, etc.)

• Hard boiled eggs - these are always good to have on hand – just boil 6 eggs as soon as you get a new carton, and use them for quick breakfasts, lunches or snacks; egg salad is great too – Ed has an awesome recipe that he has perfected over the past year and a half, perhaps he’ll guest blog about it soon (HINT HINT Ed!)

• Nut butter (or, sunflower butter!), either on whole wheat bread with honey or banana, or in a tupperware with a side of veggies or apples for dipping

• Sandwich or wrap with any of the following (get creative with what you have – you may be surprised at how good it tastes!): smoked salmon (one of our favorites), turkey, ham, salami, chicken, beef, kale, tomato, onions, sweet potato, cabbage, cheese, cream cheese, goat cheese, stone ground mustard, etc.

• Brown rice or quinoa, topped with chopped almonds, some veggies, maybe some meat if you have it, and a little soy sauce

• Yogurt or cottage cheese topped with nuts, seeds, fruit, etc.

2 things I include in every lunch:

• Fresh veggies

• Fresh fruit (a little something raw is always good to start a meal off with so your digestive enzymes get a head start)

And of course, many people like to have “a little crunch” with their meals:

• Mixed raw nuts

• Rice or seed crackers

• Sunflower or pumpkin seeds

• Apple or banana chips

• Hummus with veggies

I usually shop the bulk isle of Whole Foods and buy whatever nuts, seeds or dried fruits are on sale, and make my own “trail mix”. This week it is raw cashews, pecans, raw almonds, and goji berries. Homemade trail mix makes a great afternoon snack as well.

Now for the packaging... with bags like the ones below available at so many different stores, I don’t know why you’d ever need to invest in brown lunch bags again. Use tupperware whenever possible. Plastic bags are easiest and we use plenty of them at our house.

A quick list of things to try to avoid: frozen meals (they are very processed); sugary yogurts and puddings; Lunchables or other pre-made items; and sodas or juice boxes (water or milk is better).

So is anyone going to make a small change in their daily lunch routine? Even just one day per week? I hope so. Keep in mind that most lunches can sit in your office fridge for at least a night. So, if your coworkers suddenly decide to go out and you’d like to join them, just save your homemade lunch for the next day. Don’t use your unpredictable schedule as an excuse not to make your lunch.

Good luck! Tomorrow: homemade breakfasts! They’re even MORE important than homemade lunches!


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