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Ideas for Packing a Healthy Lunch (if you don’t work from home)

I work from home, but I didn’t for years.  I worked in an office, but even so, I rarely ever ate out for lunch.  Aside from being a cheapskate, I also wanted to control my food better.  I didn’t always eat as clean as I do now, but it was always better than fast food.  I’d like to give you a few ideas for eating better than fast food (or any restaurant food) and help you save some money too, especially if you eat often at sit down restaurants.     Lunch

And don’t think it’s okay to skip lunch.  It’s not.  You’re more likely to wind up raiding the vending machine later or stopping for something you shouldn’t on the way home.

I work from home and cook my lunch, but my husband works in an office and I pack him a lunch four days a week.  He does eat out on Friday with the boys, but four days of healthy lunches is better than none.  Being prepared for lunch is also key.  I pack my husband’s lunch right after dinner while I’m still in the kitchen.  It has become habit so it gets done and it’s ready to go in the morning.  I suggest you pack your lunch the night before since most of us aren’t likely to take the time in the morning.  Make it a habit.

1.  Leftovers are always an option.  Assuming you are eating a healthy dinner, as soon as dinner is over, pack up any leftovers in glass storage containers and take them for lunch the next day.

2.  Try to have a balanced meal and try to have variety.  My husband usually gets a protein, a veggie, a fruit, then it varies with maybe some dairy, a starch, or some nuts.  Ocassionally, something sugary like organic gummy bears.

3.  Be sure to always pack a protein.  Besides the need your body has for protein, it provides more satiety than any other nutrient and will help quash those late afternoon cravings.  As I said, packing leftover dinner is always easy, but develop a list of “go-to” proteins and keep them on hand.  My fallback for my husband’s lunchbox is canned tuna (Trader Joe’s Skipjack).

4.  Buy fresh fruit once per week and use the most perishable stuff first.  I buy underripe bananas on Friday or Saturday and they are ripe by Monday & Tuesday.  My husband gets one fruit in his lunchbox each day.  I also buy frozen fruit to keep as a backup if the fresh fruit goes bad.  Trader Joe’s Frozen Pineapple Tidbits are a good choice for not being mushy.

5.  Thou shalt pack a vegetable.  You know you need more veggies in your day, so be sure to ALWAYS have a veggie in your lunchbox.  If you want to do a salad, fine, but sometimes that’s too much work.  I keep a stock of baby carrots, celery sticks, cherry tomatoes, and sometimes bagged cut-up broccoli or cauliflower.  Just put some in a container and boom, you got nutrition.

6.  Healthy fats are satisfying and can keep you going through the afternoon.  Check out my list of healthy fats and incorporate some into your lunch.

7.  If you tolerate dairy, pack some chunks/slices of a raw, grass-fed cheese or a cup of plain yogurt mixed with some fruit and cinnamon and nuts.  Check my food buying guide for dairy.

8.  If you feel like you need a treat, consider an organic chocolate bar that’s at least 80% dark.  Keep your bars stored in the freezer.

9.  Develop a list of recipes for lunchbox items and regularly use these recipes and keep the ingredients stocked.  They don’t have to be complicated.  Check out my list of snack/light lunch ideas.

10.  For when you really, really don’t have the time for a planned lunch, keep a stock of items at work in your desk (and fridge if possible) and you’ll likely still fare better than the vending machine.  A few good choices  – Tanka bars, Gather bars, Epic bars,  Lara bars (avoid any with peanuts), and Thunderbird Energetica bars.  If I am on the go, I combine an Epic bar and a Gather bar as a meal.  The Gather and Lara bars don’t have enough protein and should be combined with an Epic or Tanka.  This is not enough calories to make a solid meal, but if you like protein drinks, the Coco Libre Protein Coconut Water is not a bad choice unless you have a lot of GI issues.

Hope that gets you started towards healthier lunches.  Just get into the habit of packing a lunch and it will all be easy after that.


*If you are into Pinterest, I posted a pin on easy lunchbox ideas, but just go to Pinterest and do a search for lunchbox ideas for adults and you’ll come up with all kinds of ideas.



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