Wednesday, June 3, 2009


We all know that eating lunch out every day is equivalent to taking money out of your wallet and lighting it on fire. Typical lunches out usually cost at least $7 - multiply that by 20 days a month to make math easy...that's $140 just on lunch! The cost to your wallet is not all to think about - there's also a health cost. Eating in restaurants gives you less control of what you're putting in your body, and most of the time (depending on the establishment), restaurant food is less healthy, too.

Solution: BYOL (bring your own lunch). I have a really hard time getting psyched about eating a brown-bag lunch. PB&J...boring. Leftovers...gross. But I've been trying really hard lately to put an emphasis on bringing my lunch to work. Here's some of what I've put in my lunch this week, and maybe it will inspire you!

*Lowfat cream cheese and sliced strawberry sandwich
*Celery with hummus
*DIY trail mix of almonds, dried cranberries and dark chocolate M&Ms
*Fresh fruit (on sale) like cherries, bananas, and raspberries
*Nonfat or Greek yogurt
*Tuna with mayo/horseradish on a French roll
*Pretzels and peanut butter
*Slices of lemon (for my ice water)
*Babybel cheese with whole wheat crackers
*On Friday, I'm going a little crazy and making a Thai wrap (on pita bread with grilled chicken, cabbage, green onions and a peanut sauce - I'll let you know how it goes)

Packing lunch definitely takes some getting used to and planning ahead. Here are some suggestions I have for making things easier and cheaper:

1) I like to use multipurpose condiments, like hummus, peanut butter and cream cheese. Not only are these good to put on sandwiches, but they are also good to dip veggies, fruit, and crackers in. More bang for your buck!

2) Make lunch the night before. This is so much better than racing around the next morning. Then you can't use the age-old excuse "I didn't have time" and go get a Big Mac. Nope. Not this time.

3) Don't fall for the easy lunch "snack size" stuff at stores. You're paying more for someone to put things in bags for you. Do it yourself - get some reusable containers at places like Target or the Container Store (I heart their lunch storage stuff), go green and save money.

4) When you get bored of the standards, try some new recipes. I like to search for "easy lunch recipes for lunchboxes" or "back to school lunch recipes". If they have to get past a picky kid, I'm sure it'll pass your standards.

5) Get a cool lunchbag so it'll make you feel slightly less dorky. I have repurposed a shopping bag I got at Lululemon Athletica last January. It's perfect for the amount of food I bring and it's washable. Plus this is what it looks like:

Cute, functional, free (with purchase, in my case socks and a headband) and motivational? Bringing lunch is more fun than I thought!

Who brings their lunch to work? Any suggestions for good stuff to put in your lunchbox?


  1. I actually really like to bring leftovers for lunch - but I realize that's not always the most popular idea. One thing that is definitely true about leftovers is that all meals are not created equal! Casseroles make great leftovers, as do a lot of pasta dishes and stir fries. Think one-dish meals - they tend to reheat better and you don't have to worry about foods mixing together in weird ways.
    Some salads can be good, but you have to think strategically - a salad with avocado, cucumber and tomato and a vinegary dressing is going to be seriously slimy by lunchtime the next day. Gross. The Container Store and Storables at UVillage in Seattle sell containers with little salad dressing compartments built in, cherry tomatoes won't get slimy the way slices will, and you can always put your cukes in a separate baggie inside your container.
    Things that are not good leftovers include seafood (ick - your coworkers will not appreciate this), steaks, roasts, meals with a lot of components or things where sauces will separate when you reheat (a lot of dairy-based sauces don't do very well in the microwave). If you have leftover steak or roast chicken, try making a cold sandwich or salad with it.
    If your office has a sink and an electrical outlet, you could also think about bringing in a Foreman grill - you probably have one lying around somewhere, and they really improve a sandwich brought from home - you can try making a Cuban sandwich or a Muffuleta and toasting/pressing it at work. One thing NOT to do is cook raw meat on them, as a former coworker of mine did.

  2. This is fun!
    I actaully make lunch of Jonathan and me about 3 days a week. Lunch is pretty much always - A ham sandwich, pita chips, cut up veggies (cucumber, celery, tomato), cut up apple, and some nuts/rasins (homemade mix). Boring? Maybe a little. But we buy all that stuff in bulk from Costco and it saves major $$$.

  3. I disagree that steaks and roasts don't make good leftovers :). You can also take precooked sausage or hot dogs and cook them in the microwave, just put them in a shallow tupperware with about a tablespoon of water and you'll get some really tasty cooked sausage. Another thing I like to do is make a bunch of rice, put soy sauce and sriracha on it, and throw in some random leafy greens - the greens will cook as you warm it up, the sauce gives plenty of flavor, and rice will keep for a long time in the fridge.

  4. I love all these great suggestions! I definitely didn't mean leftovers weren't great for lunch. Personally, I just like a little variety, and when I have the same thing for lunch as I did the night before for dinner, I definitely feel a strong case of food blues. :) But I love the ideas of adding other ingredients to leftovers to make it a new meal! We'll probably do an entry on that later (with some help from you all)!