Packing a Lunch

For the last few months I have made a conscious effort to pack my lunch everyday. The first reason for this is health. Eating out is just not healthy mainly because restaurants are not making food for it to be good for you, they are making food that tastes good so that people will keep coming back. The second reason is that most of the time I make much better tasting food, and the third reason is that it saves me a ton of money and time.

For a lot of people cooking is a total pain in the ass. Its just something that we don’t do in the USA. This is the land of the cheeseburger and the drive-through. Of course this is now evolving into the Subway sandwich, which after working in one for a few months in college isn’t much better. The trick is to find a few things that you like to eat and that are easy to prepare.

Here are a few ideas that I use:

  1. Chicken Breast with roasted veggies РOn Sunday take 5 chicken breasts and cook them however you like best. I prefer to grill but will saut̩ them on occasion. Then take a few potatoes, celery stalks, carrots, and onions and chop them into 1 inch parts. Coat them with Olive Oil, salt, and pepper and put into a casserole dish. Toss this into the oven at 400F for 40 minutes or until they start to brown. You can then package these up and microwave at the office. Add Cheese if you want.
  2. Crock-pot Chicken with veggies – This is something I have just started and am kicking myself for not doing it sooner. Buy a cheap crock-pot from walmart or get one at goodwill. A 2 quart is good size if you are single or a couple, you may want larger if there are children. This recipe assumes a 2 quart crock-pot. Chop up your veggies like in the roasted recipe but a little smaller, think quarter inch thickness. My sister had the great recommendation of putting the potatoes on the bottom! Then cut one large chicken breast up into 1/2 chunks and put on top of everything. Add a half cup of rice, I go with brown rice cause its much better for you. Add some spices, I like sage and pepper a 1/2 teaspoon of each, but you can experiment here. Then add 5 cups of Chicken Broth, this is the critical ingredient but try to get the Organic stuff as it will have less sodium and other junk in it. Chicken Broth is the secret ingredient in cooking. Anytime a recipe asks for water use chicken broth and you will amaze your family and friends at how good a cook you are (don’t try this with oatmeal though, yuck). Set the crock-pot on Low and 7 hours later you have an awesome chicken soup/stew. I do this when I get home late from Toastmasters or Yoga and turn it on at 10pm and by the time I am done with this article its ready to go. I take 2 servings to work and have some at 11pm and then at 3pm.
  3. Sandwiches – By far the easiest food in the world to make. Start off easy and make a PBnJ, you remember how don’t you? For an advanced technique change the Peanut Butter with Almond Butter. It costs a bit more but you can bargain hunt and the health benefits are huge. Then move onto the more advanced sandwiches: turkey, ham, roast beef, etc. Throw some spinach, tomato, sprouts, avocado, onion, and mustard on there. Try out a different type of bread each week. Rye bread is supposed to have a ton of healthy stuff in it, go for the marbled. If you add a dash of salt and pepper to your sandwich you will spice things up very nicely, but be sparing, especially if preparing for someone else.

The other thing to consider is snacks. I have been working on eating smaller portions but this means I need to eat more often. The best thing to have is Fruits, Nuts, and Veggies which I stock up on throughout the week and take a bagful into work with me everyday. If you go with seasonal choices the prices will be lower and they will be much tastier as they are fully ripened. I will eat 1-2 bananas a day, 3-4 apricots, a handful of almonds, a carrot, and a celery stalk. Find what works for you. I also throw in a cup of Soy Yogurt for the protein and to change things up.

Here are some other good articles:
Zen Habits on the Brown Bag
Brown Bag Lunches
Rediscovering the Homemade Lunch