How I make lunch packing quick, cheap, and exciting

About a few months ago I had the idea to start up a lunch making service. I thought I could create a “menu” of a few different options, charge enough to cover the cost of my ingredients (and enough to make some profit), and show people that eating vegetables, whole grains and “out-of-the-box” protein sources is fun and delicious.
 
I know a lot of people HATE making their lunch for work/school, so why not put my love of organization and veggie chopping to good use?
 

Unfortunately, my current schedule doesn’t exactly permit me to take on such an undertaking (working 40 hours/week plus being in school 10+ hours a week isn’t exactly ideal for a lunch making service…).

So… even though my business venture isn’t exactly attainable right now, I still love packing myself healthy and fun lunches, and I still have the desire to show people how delicious vegetables are and how easy it can be to incorporate them into daily life.

I mean, food is an important part of life. We eat at least 3x a day. Why not make meals as exciting (and nutrient-packed) as possible (even when they are in Tupperware containers)?

lunch and dinner packed for today

Since I feel like the issue with lunch packing is less about what to do, and is more about how to do it, I thought I could share a few tricks and habits I have developed over the last couple years that allow me to pack healthy, quick and delicious lunches for myself on a daily basis.

I truly believe it is possible to be busy and make time for your health and well being as well.

One thing I try to do on Sundays is prep lunch/dinner ingredients to use through out the week. It literally saves so much time and makes meal packing so much easier.  Yesterday, for example, I had about 30 minutes of time to spare, so I prepped a lot of things for the week to make meal packing a little easier:

1. I made some grains for fast lunch/dinner making

quinoa and whole grain pasta

 This is something I try to do every Sunday, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking to save some time during the week. It is such an easy way to create a variety of quick and healthy meals without waiting for anything to cook (or relying on packaged bread or wraps).

There are so different many grains to try out. They also store pretty well and are easy to prep. Some of my favorites (with cook times):

  1. Quinoa (20 minute approx.)
  2. Brown Rice (ranges depending on the type… I personally like the quick cooking kind which takes 10-15 minutes)
  3. Barley (30-45 min)
  4. Whole grain pasta (15 minutes)… I love to make make-shift “pasta salads” 

2. I prepped my protein sources (beans, tofu)

One thing I try to keep in mind when meal planning is incorporating good protein sources into my meals. I know opening and rinsing a can of beans doesn’t seem that difficult, but for some reason, I hate having to do it when packing my lunch. By rinsing a few cans at once, I have now have 2 different protein sources waiting for me to use. When it comes to quick meal packing, the more convenient, the better.

I also pressed a block of tofu with my tofu press while I opened the beans. I LOVE my tofu press. It makes tofu-making so  convenient. I used to avoid making it because of the the whole paper towel/dish towel/book stacking process (which isn’t so bad, it just takes a bit more effort)… this makes it SO easy.

Other easy protein sources I like to use:

  1. Any type of canned bean (kidney, black, white, chickpea)
  2. Edamame (perfect for “Asian” inspired meals… I buy prepackaged, individually-sized bags at the grocery store that are located in the freezer section).
  3. Canned tuna and canned salmon
  4. Tempeh/Tofu
  5. Veggie burgers

1. I premade trail mixes

dried fruit, mini chocolate chips

almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios

 This is the first time I ever took the time to pre-make some mixes, and it literally took 5 minutes. I don’t know why I don’t do this more often. Packing snacks is something I rarely think to do ahead of time, which usually leads to me eating a lot of granola bars and almonds as a snack, or spending a few minutes every day putting some “fun” mixes together.
 

While I don’t mind packing snacks everyday, doing it all at once was pretty simple, and it was actually pretty fun to mix and match my different “ingredients.” I even rediscovered  some things I forgot I owned (pistachios and dried mango!). I love that I have a variety of mixes waiting for me to grab. This is such an easy (and cost effective!) way to ensure you have a fun, healthy, filling snack available when hunger stikes.  

So, I guess the first step of healthy/fun lunch making is all about the prep work. It might not be the most “fun” thing to do, but I promise it is worth it when you have something delicious to eat everyday (that took almost no time to prepare). I also have some tips on making food “pretty” (you eat with your eyes first!), but I think I am going to save that for another day….  
 
I hope you have a great Monday!
 
Do you pack your lunch for school/work? How important is it for you to pack healthy/delicious meals? Any barriers to doing this?
Advertisements

4 responses

  1. I would totally take you up on your lunch packing service! I loathe packing lunch, it’s so tedious. I have been hating it so much recently that I just pack whatever is the fastest thing. Oops! I used to be very health oriented but I feel it slowly going away. Help? Thanks.

  2. Pingback: You eat with your eyes first – How to make food look “pretty” « Apples and Optimism

  3. Pingback: Things I’ve learned this weekend… « Apples and Optimism

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s