During the work week, there are lots of reasons why we choose to go out for lunch, rather than bringing food from home. It can feel a little like elementary school to bring a brown paper bag and a peanut butter sandwich. There’s a bit of hassle involved because it takes time to put your lunch together, and there is more to carry during your commute. I would argue, however, that the main reason why we like to eat out so much is because it’s the only time during the day when many of us get up from our desks, walk outside, and take a break from work.
That break time is so important! Taking time away from our desks is important for our productivity and creativity, but if it leads to consuming an excess of salt, sugar, and fat, bringing lunch to work starts to sound pretty good. But you might as well make it easy on yourself, right? Below are great ways to make it easier to have delicious, homemade meals at work.
Easy ways to bring lunches from home:
- Bring food on Monday to eat all week: If your office has a refrigerator, make carrying food to work easier by bringing the bulk of your lunches to work on Monday. Moving the prep work to Sunday night can lower the overall time you spend getting your lunches together, and it’s less of a cognitive burden. This idea is great if your lunches include:
- yogurt and fruit
- Hummus with carrots, peppers, and celery
- Soup or another one-dish meal
- Use leftovers from last night’s dinner: This strategy is great if your major barrier for brining food to work is that you don’t have time to make it. If you always cook dinner at home, however, making one extra serving is usually pretty low-hassle. Portion out your lunch like it’s for another member of the family, and bring it to work the next day! This is especially awesome if your dinners/lunches include:
- Make your food portable! Sometimes the logistics of getting our food to work and assembling it are the most difficult parts. Salad in a jar is one of the best ways to bring salads to work without a mess. Also, invest in some sealable, water tight containers! I love mason jars and this stainless steel container to take food to work. Also, consider nature’s miracle foods to prevent mess: thick-skinned fruits like oranges can usually a beating in the bottom of a bag. Pita sandwiches, omelettes, and empanadas are great vehicles of deliciousness.
- Repurpose your meals:If you don’t like home cooking for lunch because you want more variety in your diet, take some steps to mitigate palate fatigue: use different spice blends on dishes you bring to lunch, or follow Mark Bittman’s lead and have an arsenal of quick and easy sauces you can employ throughout the week!
Bringing food from home CAN be fun. Invest in a lunchbox you can be proud of, and reward yourself: You saved all that time not standing in line, so take a nice 15 minute walk after you finish your meal!