Tips to Packing a Better Lunch

Tips to Packing a Better LunchWhat’s for lunch? I find myself asking this question almost every single day. Sometimes I chose Subway for their foot long oven roasted chicken breast. (I get mine on seven grain honey oat bread with pepper jack cheese, and the works minus the cucumber. Throw on some sweet onion dressing and you are good to go!) Others days I end up at the Chinese buffet. For $6 you can’t go wrong with some sweet and sour chicken and some fried rice. But lately I have been trying to eat a little healthier. I have stopped eating fast food (yes, Subway is still considered fast food) and begun shopping for low calorie and high protein meals. There are even some days when I want to take my own lunch to work rather than heating something up in the microwave.

Since mom is not making your lunch anymore, it is time for you to grow up and learn how to pack your own brown bag. (I actually have a SpongeBob SquarePants lunch box.) Below are some items that you can use as inspiration the next time you take your lunch to work.

1. Build a smarter sandwich.

Let’s start with the bread. Do not go down the bread aisle and get a loaf of Wonder Bread for your sandwich. Take the time to visit an actual bakery and slice the bread yourself. (You can go somewhere like Panera Bread where they slice it for you. It is the same difference. Panera Bread actually does not even use preservatives in their bread so you are going to get the most flavor from their loafs.)  Make sure when selecting the bread that you go for something firm on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. The bread will last longer and have more flavor this way.

Cheese is the best part of the experience in my eyes. I enjoy cheese like I appreciate a nice glass of wine. Pick something crazy like aged cheddar or a smoked gouda. This will add a lot of flavor to the middle of the sandwich and based on your choice of cheese can add a salty and smooth texture to each and every bite. And when you get to the meat that will match the cheese you have selected, make sure to spend a little extra on some quality meats. Spending an extra few dimes on the meat will make the aftertaste from this sandwich well worthwhile.

If you are a condiment fanatic like myself you are thinking about dousing this with ketchup or some mustard. Think outside the box and invest in a bottle of French Dijon mustard or a pickled relish ketchup that will help add flavor to the sandwich but also give you a sophisticated lunch. And if you feel saucy enough to even toss some vegetables on there choose fresh veggies from the market and make sure they are hand selected for that added freshness.

2. Soup as a meal?

Did you realize that you could enjoy soup for a meal? Toss it in a thermas if you like and keep it warm until lunch. It can even keep the soup cold depending on your taste in soup. If you are going to use soup as a mean make sure it is meaty and hearty packed with chunky vegetables, potatoes, and even beef or chicken.

If you want to get crazy you can even begin experimenting with making your own soups. Start with a tomato or cream base and just start having fun with the blender. Toss in some cabbage, maybe a radish or two, or even throw in an onion and some chunks of lamb. By the time the blender has finished you might just have a hearty soup that will replace one or two more meals after you have lunch.

3. Think outside the box with your side items.

What is your typical side item? Perhaps you enjoy a candy bar or maybe a red delicious apple? Maybe you even toss in a bag of chips or a rice crispy treat? Whatever your side item of choice is its time to think a little different about your calories. Start by thinking what your sandwich has on it. If you are eating a sandwich that comes from the foothills of Paris then toss in a handful of organic grapes or a block of cheese. (There is a great place in Indianapolis to get your exotic cheese. Vine and Table in Carmel, Indiana is not only fun to shop around in but also a great place to stock up for the week ahead.)

If you do decide to take a block of cheese to the office, note that you will not want to eat it all for lunch your first day. Take a Swiss Army Knife to store in your desk for when you do decide to eat that block of Piave. It will come in handy. Also, note that if you heat up the knife for a few seconds before you slice the cheese it will make a huge difference and your life a lot easier.

4. Think about your portion size.

Make a lot for dinner on Monday and you have lunch and a snack for Tuesday and Wednesday. Think about the last time you made spaghetti. You do not have to make enough for only one night. If you are going to go to the trouble of boiling all that water and tossing noodle on the wall to test consistency, then make enough to last all week. You can then toss different sauce on the dish to give you variety throughout the week. And who doesn’t like cold spaghetti noodles at two in the morning right out of the fridge?

Take those extra helping to work the next day or two. Perhaps even try eating the noodles cold with a light olive oil or perhaps an olive salad to match. Before too long you are going to start coming up with your very own combinations of dishes. And be careful as you might start making your coworkers jealous if you keep making, let alone eating, all of this good food. But if anyone asks you why you have started eating healthy and making your own dishes, just be honest with them. Tell them that you decided to grow up and start making your own lunch. Go big or go home I always say.