Monday, December 20, 2010

Take the Pain Out of Brown-Bagging Lunch

I have lunch with the same group of coworkers every day. It all started when one of the women joined weight watchers and started to bring her lunch. I always had brought my lunch and just ate at my desk. So we starting getting away from the office and eating together. The third coworker had always popped out to pick something up and she would bring it back to her desk. We invited her to eat with us and she felt inspired to start bringing her lunch as well. She brought her lunch two or three times, then fell back into the habit of buying a sandwich or salad then joining us.

I think the reason she didn't stick with it is that she would always prepare her lunch either the night before or in the morning. If you are tired or running late, preparing lunch for the day is the first thing that falls off the list. I have always made a week's worth of lunches on Sunday, and carted everything into the office fridge on Monday morning. Here are my tips on how I make this work for me, a very picky eater:

  • Most frozen leftover dinners seem to taste funky after I've nuked them in the office microwave. So I make fresh lunches on Sunday that do not need to be frozen to still be good on Friday.
  • I do not include chicken or beef in the meal, to avoid the funky-by-Friday syndrome. So I stick with beans, tunafish, boiled eggs or nuts to supply the protein.
  • I don't care for the taste of bread that has been refrigerated, so I never bring a sandwich (picky me). To minimize the time and complexity of preparing lunches on Sunday, I eat foods that require little or no cooking.
  • Favorite meal #1 is a huge green salad consisting of any combination of protein (see above), artichokes, beets, corn, onions, roasted red peppers, blue cheese or feta, and fresh cracked pepper. I keep bottled balsamic vinaigrette in the office fridge and dress the salad just before lunch.
  • Favorite meal #2 is couscous. I saute a diced onion and garlic while I prepare 1/2 cup whole wheat couscous. Add navy beans and a combination of raw vegetables (tomato, zucchini, asparagus, etc) then toss in some crumbled feta. You can nuke or eat at room temperature.
  • Bring some fruit and crackers, and after just a few minutes of preparation on a Sunday evening, you have lunch for 5 days!

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