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What do you take for lunch to work?

I am trying to be better with my food choices this year but not good on making satisfying lunch to take to work. Would love to hear what you do instead of picking something up at a food court.

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  1. Do you have access to a microwave to warm up your lunch?

    2 Replies
    1. re: KatoK

      Yes, I do. And a toaster oven and a fridge.

      1. re: herby

        Then I'm in agreement with a number of the Hounds who have already chimed in. During these cold months, stew, chili, lentil soup and other comfort foods with some rice or a roll are my go to choices. Thoughtful dinner preparation with leftovers for lunches in mind make these decisions much easier.

    2. I like roasted/steamed/raw veg (like raw baby carrot, roasted sweet potato, steamed green beans) with a dip or dressing + little wheel of cheese + plus grain salad or pasta. This keeps me full, doesn't need to be kept cold (usually) and is easy to make ahead.

        1. re: greygarious

          Great threads - many thanks! - I'll read them tomorrow night.

        2. I take leftovers from dinner the night before, or a big salad with dressing in a separate container. Both are easy and good and don't require much in the way of refrigeration or reheating.

          5 Replies
          1. re: Euonymous

            I like to take leftovers but do not always have - I live alone and try to make meals in small portions. Big salad is good too but i do not always have enough variety of salad things to make it interesting.

            1. re: herby

              See, I live alone and make normal-sized portions *so that* I can have leftovers to take for lunch!

              1. re: LauraGrace

                +1 - there's more than one of us, and I still make extra so there's some left for lunch.

              2. re: herby

                Like Laura, I am just one but I usually cook for 6 to 8. Lol! I give some away to friends, freeze if I can, and eat in a variety of ways over a few days.

            2. I like the lunch on the go containers, maybe you can find at BB & Beyond or Ross. They are one oblong plastic container with 2 smaller ones that can fit on top of the big one with a thin layer of blue ice thing for in between. I'll take a salad and put oil and vinegar in one of those little plastic containers with lids you find at salsa section of Mexican places. In one of the small containers I'll often put cottage cheese. It all stays very cold for hours.

              Other times I bring a sandwich, like tuna salad, in a padded lunch bag with blue ice both above and below it...stays really cold. I also make a thermos of (real leaves!) Earl Grey tea and take it in a Nissan thermos and it's stays very hot for 8-10 hours.

              4 Replies
              1. re: walker

                I nearly always packed lunch during my decades of work as a mail carrier. Rather than the ice packs, I half-filled a plastic bottle with water, iced tea, or Crystal Light and froze it overnight - in the morning, top it off. By lunchtime it was ready to drink and my sandwich was still cold/cool.
                If you don't mint the extra cost and packaging, you can freeze juice boxes.

                There was a Bruegger's Bagels place on my route, so sometimes I brought a small container of liverwurst, tuna salad, tomato, etc., plus condiments, bought a warm bagel at lunchtime, and assembled lunch in my truck. It's astonishing how much money you save by taking your own workday lunches, snacks, and beverages.

                1. re: greygarious

                  Brilliant idea to freeze the beverage and use it to cool.

                  1. re: karykat

                    This'll get you through a TSA checkpoint, too, provided that the beverage is frozen absolutely solid, no slushiness. Completely OT.

                    1. re: darklyglimmer

                      Would not have thought of that. Ingenious.

              2. One of my favorites: Cook a batch of brown (or your favorite) rice the night before. Enjoy with dinner, then the next morning mix some of the leftover rice in a lunch container with sliced Kalamata olives, sliced almonds and steamed leftover veggies (I like broccolini). Maybe some feta cheese. Pack a separate container of balsamic dressing to drizzle over rice just before serving. (Take rice mixture out of refrigerator about an hour before lunch, to allow it to come to room temp.) In the summer, I take a small fresh tomato to chop up and mix with rice just before serving.

                1 Reply
                1. re: semisweet

                  Thanks for sharing that! It sounds like an easy (and easily adaptable) lunch. Might have to try this next week!

                2. I make a lot dishes that can be served with rice (white and brown, though I try for brown to make things healthier), or pasta-based dishes. Those heat up wonderfully and last the week very well if you do the cooking all at once like I do.

                  Pasta: Lasagna, baked ziti, mac & cheese and any variation there-of. Any pasta dish, really. The world is your oyster. Sometimes I just cook up a bunch of pasta and dump in a whole bunch of ingredients I have on hand.

                  Rice: Curries (though this may stink up the work space!), saucey dishes like gumbo and etouffée, stir fries.

                  Quiches and baked egg dishes are great, as well. I mainly make crustless quiches because I'm not too fond of the crust part (I view it mainly as filler!), but strata, fritatas...that kind of stuff.

                  Roasted vegetables as sides are always delicious. Any vegetable you can think of, really: Brussels sprouts, carrots, potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli. I always try to roast with some garlic or onions to give it some extra flavor, but you can use spices and such for that as well.

                  Rice pilafs, and even those rice mix packets that you can get cheap from supermarkets, make great sides as well.

                  Meatloaf (I like turkey best, but you can use any ground meat) and mashed potatoes with some other vegetable as a side. I make little loaves so they cook more quickly and are more easily portioned. Wrap in bacon for an extra treat.

                  Sandwiches: try to avoid stuff like tuna salad or chicken salad since the bread you eat it with will be soggy and cold once lunchtime arrives. I like to make my sandwiches the night before or the morning of, stick in the fridge, then take to work and place in fridge as soon as I arrive. When it comes time to eat, I just take the cold cuts & cheese part out and toast the bread. If you like condiments, bring those to work (put your name on it if worried about stealing...puts SOME people off, but not all!) and keep in the fridge if allowed. You're lucky you have a toaster oven, so you can make toasted sandwiches and basically fill it with veggies and such, as well. I try to steer away from tomatoes if bringing to work since they make the bread soggy.

                  Wraps: cook up or buy some grilled or breaded chicken strips, add lettuce, other veggies, any sauces, cheeses of your choice, wrap up in something that will keep the wrap together, and stick in fridge. These are great because you don't need reheating.

                  ETA: If you find cooking fresh veggies cumbersome and just want some simple steamed vegetables with your meals as sides, I like to just buy them frozen, put them into the meal container frozen when putting everything together, and that way they defrost to fridge temp and won't overcook when I heat the meals up. Broccoli, corn, peas, cauliflower are my faves.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: yfunk3

                    So many great ideas here and also on the other thread that gg posted - I think I will make some brown rice tonight and have it with the braise that I made last night and then make a yummy rice bowl to take to work:)

                    1. re: yfunk3

                      A guy I once worked with had a gf who packed him sandwiches for lunch every day. She put a slice of cheese next to both slices of bread, and layered everything else in between to keep the bread from getting soggy (the cheese being the driest ingredient). I thought it was genius!

                      1. re: yanz

                        Hmm...will have to try that next time I get on a sandwich kick (prob during the hot months!). Kinda like putting peanut butter on both slices of bread first, then the jelly in the middle.

                        1. re: yfunk3

                          Good lettuce protects the bread this way too.

                      2. re: yfunk3

                        "(put your name on it if worried about stealing...puts SOME people off, but not all!)"

                        I'm a teacher and have worked in schools where people are terrible for stealing stuff from the staff room fridge. When I was pregnant, I could not live without milk and would become quite irate if I found my carton empty - which I think often happened because everyone thought they could put a splash in their coffee without anyone noticing. So I used to put a sign on my milk that read "I spit in this milk". That DEFINITELY turned people off from drinking it, lol!

                      3. I haven't worked outside the home in a while, but when I did I often kept a jar of natural peanut butter and some apples (and a knife) handy -- peanut butter on apple slices is a good snack or lunch and will keep for a while... I also would keep a container of cottage cheese, almonds, and whole grain crackers around -- in a pinch they're filling and healthy. One of my officemates swore by sweet potatoes with cottage cheese (microwaved) -- I personally don't like sweet potatoes, but they'd certainly keep for a while. (The prepared lunch suggestions sound wonderful, but I liked to stash a few things just in case I was running late -- would help keep me from buying junk!)

                        1. The freezer at work was empty when I started there, so that has become my "overflow" freezer for home. I argue that a full freezer is a more efficient freezer, so I'm helping the business save money :) I fill ziploc bags in individual portions of homemade soups and chili that I most often make on the weekend so I can use these either at home for dinner or at work for lunch. I always make too much pasta for dinner, so I will take the leftovers for lunch the next day. Roasted vegetables and leftover wild rice is always good as a side for dinner or lunch the next day.

                          Right now I'm thinking "winter meals" since it is freezing cold. In the summer I do lots of main course salada and cold pastas. All of these meals I share with one co-worker who likes all the same things as I do, and we both try to encourage healthy eating among everyone in the shop. We have one young man who has adapted a lot of our eating habits and he's dropped at least 50 lbs. and now exercises on a regular basis. He is a totally different person! There is a young lady who really wants to "eat like us", but although everything is at her disposal, she drops off the wagon after a few days and goes back to fast food.

                          Over the weekend I made a big pot of 10 bean soup with Italian chicken sausage, spinach, chicken broth...I guess isn't that kinda minestra? I have an 84 year old saddlemaker who is very frail. He didn't come into work today but I had one of our workers take two big containers of soup as well as some chicken chile verde to his house tonight.

                          I find having a variety of things in the freezer in the winter or salads without the dressing in the refrigerator in the summer the best solution. I don't think of individual daily meals as much as a bunch of different choices. I remember one day last fall when my co-worker said 'oh, I wish there was a Wendy's....I'd love some chili'. I went to the freezer and grabbed a bag of my homemade turkey chili and made her day!

                          16 Replies
                          1. re: Barbara76137

                            I noticed that our freezer at work was empty too. It's not any more! I made lentil soup with chestnuts (my favorite) and pumpkin mac n cheese in quantity and froze in little containers.

                            Only problem: one of my colleagues loves lentil soup and has been eying the containers I have frozen! And she likes my pumpkin mac n cheese. I'm not sure my inventory is safe!

                            1. re: karykat

                              You've obviously never worked with the Fridge Bandit....that person who eats lunch in the office, courtesy of somebody who will now go hungry.

                              We were plagued with that one -- even catching her red-handed, not that it even slowed her down. One of the other women finally fixed it by making chocolate pudding with Ex-Lax. That was the LAST lunch she stole!

                              1. re: karykat

                                Do you think putting price tags on the soup would work?

                                I really don't mind sharing my food with everyone at work, but I'd be really upset if someone just helped themselves without asking.

                                I need to build up my confidence as a cook, so if I put something in the fridge with the understanding that it is for everyone and it disappears quickly, I guess I'm doing ok.

                                1. re: Barbara76137

                                  No, a price tag won't help...there are cretins out there who figure that if it's in the office fridge, it's fair game -- a prepackaged Weight Watchers meal, a peanut-butter sandwich, or takeout from the best place in town.

                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                    I just found these and thought them cute and funny... Pre-"moldy" bags...

                                    I'd attach a note to my stuff written in a kid's handwriting that says "Hope you like the lunch we packed for you. Love Katie" or something else that seems... kiddie

                                    Or, wrap it in such a way that the removal of the packaging is unpreventably loud.

                                    1. re: Emme

                                      laughing hysterically regarding prohibitively loud packaging. I may have to try that!

                                      1. re: twilight goddess

                                        this particular beast got caught red-handed and laughed about it...she didn't even have the grace to look embarassed or even put down the container she was eating out of...that had somebody else's name *clearly* marked.

                                      2. re: Emme

                                        I saw these a while ago and loved the idea behind it, but with my luck some other annoying co-worker would just throw my sandwich out once they saw it!

                                  2. re: karykat

                                    Sounds like karykat's coworker might not be that evil. Can you offer it in trade-- she gets some lentil soup and brings you lunch some time?

                                    1. re: karykat

                                      No, my coworker is not evil. In fact, I may offer to make a big batch of the pumpkin mac and cheese we can share. She doesn't like to cook and I do. She can buy me the ingredients or take me out to lunch. I just need her to stay away from my chestnut soup because that is kind of precious.

                                      A long time ago in another office I had a coworker who was kind of like sunshine842's fridge bandit. One time we were having a meeting in a conference room. I put my sandwich on a plate on the conference room table and left for a few minutes. When I came back there was a big bite taken out of my sandwich. I marveled at that. How could someone do that. Some are kind of oblivious to basic social norms I think. Thankfully, he moved on.

                                      1. re: karykat

                                        I would love that pumpkin mac n cheese recipe :)

                                        1. re: 16crab

                                          Here's the pumpkin mac n cheese recipe: http://brokeassgourmet.com/articles/b...

                                          I may try puting a little curry in my next batch.

                                          1. re: karykat

                                            Thanks! That looks awesome. Wondering if I can pass it off on my kids (evil rub to chin...)

                                            Love the title of that blog. Definitely going to have to revisit.

                                        2. re: karykat

                                          karykat, could you post the lentil/chestnut soup recipe? I love lentils any way you fix them and this sounds terrific!


                                          1. re: meatn3

                                            Here's the lentil chestnut soup recipe: http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/...

                                            I fry some good bacon and drain off excess fat from that instead of using pancetta and it works great. I also use the vacuum packed chestnuts that come in a jar.


                                            1. re: karykat

                                              The recipe looks really good! Thanks so much.


                                      2. I'm a big fan of leftovers from dinner the night before, but often we either don't have anything or it doesn't travel well. So then I'll go to the easy/on hand stuff that can cobble together a fun meal.

                                        Stuff to make sandwiches (tuna, pb&J, cold cuts). I also like hummus and carrots sometimes with a grilled chicken breast. And the Peanut butter and apples is also a favorite snack - and I always have crackers, nuts, and granola bars in my desk. It's also easy to prep salad and veggies on the weekend (cut the peppers, wash the greens etc) and put them into single serving containers so I'll be more likely to eat my veggies.

                                        1. Today I took homemade Moosewood Minestrone soup and a roasted beet/walnut endive salad from Cooking Light and a bowl of mixed fruit that needed to be used up, and I also brought breakfast..steel cut oats with a cut up apple and some almond milk and a banana walnut streusel muffin. I find that the key is having a good supply of the appropriate containers handy!

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: sunflwrsdh

                                            I like to bring a whole uncooked delicata squash or a sweet potato and cook it in the microwve (5 minutes). A little butter and/or Chinese take-out soy sauce packet is a nice addition.

                                            1. re: sunflwrsdh

                                              sunflower -- that sounds delightful! everything about that sounds yummy. I am a big fan of Moosewood and of the overall approach of Mollie Katzen. Which cookbook did you use for that minestrone?

                                              1. re: twilight goddess

                                                Sadly, I don't own any of the cookbooks....I googled "Moosewood Minestrone" and got the recipe. It really turned out wonderfully, considering I had never done garbonzo beans "from scratch" before. I was really pleased!

                                            2. Quesadillas in the toaster - amenable to low fat cheese and whole wheat tortillas, with or without beans or leftover chicken; salsa on the side
                                              Burritos are just as easy too to make on the spot

                                              Couscous salad - pre-cooked or takes five minutes to make a la minute; bring in mix-ins and a nice little vinegarette on the side to toss

                                              Leftover polenta squares (toasted) with roasted veggies

                                              Beans or Lentils cooked simply with onions, garlic and carrots, with cumin and coriander over brown rice

                                              Ricotta or Cottage Cheese with Fruit and some chopped nuts or almond butter

                                              Toaster Sandwiches - fill and use to heat, goldenize or melt cheese

                                              Too bad you can't invest in a small pressure cooker that you could fill before you leave the house and plug in at work... you'd be the envy of everyone... betcha people would buy lunch from you ;)

                                              1. Frozen, homemade burritos, individually wrapped. I made them on the weekends, wrapped them in wax paper and then stored them in the freezer in a Ziploc; I usually cut them in half before I nuke them to ensure that they were hot all the way through. You can pack salsa, sour cream, or other preferred toppings separately. Back in my office-work days, my favorite was sweet potato and black bean: filling, nutritious, interesting flavors. You could even throw some spinach in there if you were so inclined.

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: darklyglimmer

                                                  Never thought about sweet potato in a burrito, but I'll have to try that!

                                                  1. re: Barbara76137

                                                    It works really well with black beans, particularly if you add a bit of cumin to the beans. Smoky-sweet and delicious.

                                                    1. re: darklyglimmer

                                                      I'll have to try it. I love sweet potatoes with chile en adobo.

                                                2. I love a good quinoa salad. Just finished one up that was a greek version- had roasted artichokes, cucumber, tomato, feta cheese, chickpeas, mint, shrimp and some oregano balsamic on top. You can make varying versions though of whatever is on hand at home- it's delicious and you can eat it cold.
                                                  Also love to make a big batch of soup on the weekend that I can bring for lunch- lentil soup, chicken tortilla etc.
                                                  When I do bring something like tuna for a sandwich, I keep my tuna in a small tupperware and bring my bread in a ziploc so I can assemble at lunch time and avoid it getting soggy.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: ms. mika

                                                    That's how I pack my tuna, chicken or egg salad for sandwiches - separately and then put on bread at lunch time. I'll also put the lettuce and / or tomato in a ziploc separate from the bread to keep it from getting soggy.

                                                  2. I just finished my new fav lunch. Bulghur wheat with grilled eggplant, red peppers, onions, portabello mushrooms, feta and kalamata olives. Even tastes great at room temp

                                                    1. The physical layout of your workplace should be taken into account. If you are eating at a desk in a common work area, be considerate of your co-workers. The occasional egg-salad sandwich or reheated sausage and kraut can be forgiven, but pungent aromas on a daily basis will annoy them.

                                                      4 Replies
                                                      1. re: greygarious

                                                        Ugh. memories of the coworker who used to nuke the *nastiest* fish I've ever smelled every day. It made the entire building reek of ammonia the rest of the afternoon - I don't know how she could eat it.

                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                          And to think I used to glare at the people making popcorn in the break room . . . cooking fish in an office, that's just a crime.

                                                        2. re: greygarious

                                                          I work w/ a lot of Asians and there is ALWAYS fish at lunch. Regardless. So, I just deal w/ it. I used to work w/ a co-worker that got really, really offended by the smell of bananas including the peel. So if I brought a banana, I would eat it outside and throw the peel in an outside garbage can.

                                                          For me, the smell of onions make me gag. Someone will eat a big a$$ greasy burger, slathered in onions and toss the wrapper in their garbage can. The whole office / cube / area would reek the rest of the day.

                                                          1. re: JerryMe

                                                            I've never decided...do they not smell it, do they not think YOU can smell it, or do they genuinely not care?

                                                            My fish-eater was one of the kindest, sweetest women I've ever worked with, so it was hard to say anything to her about it...but yergh...finally we couldn't take it any more.

                                                        3. +1 to being considerate of your coworkers' noses if applicable... my old boss was on a broccoli kick for several months.

                                                          Other ideas that are relatively low-maintenance: baked sweet potato with salsa (ideally chipotle) and shredded cheddar (and black beans if you feel so inspired); toasted English muffin with peanut butter and sliced apples, or with hummus and feta or Provolone and roasted red pepper... mmm, now I'm getting hungry.

                                                          1. I have a 2-tier metal lunch container, and I fill one tier with baby carrots and a tiny tupperware of hummus. In the other, I will bring jasmine rice with tofu and vegetables or baked polenta with tomato sauce or mushroom ragout. I do NOT use the work microwave...too many meals that splatter in there and it's never cleaned. Yuck! I just eat my lunch cold.

                                                            1. On Sunday afternoons I will make two pots of soup for Sunday lunch & lunch for the week. I made a Portuguese Kale Soup and a Red Lentil & Brown Rice Soup this weekend. I find that soup is filling, good for you, economical and downright tasty. Perfect for the colder seasons but I actually do it year round.

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: smithareeny

                                                                Would love the recipe for the kale soup if you don't mind! Sounds delicious! :)

                                                                1. re: LauraGrace


                                                                  I use this recipe from Epicurious. For the sausage, I mix it up. I use whatever I have on hand. I had some leftover Moravian Sausage I got at Patak Meats in Auestell GA.

                                                                2. re: smithareeny

                                                                  I have been doing pretty much the same thing with making two pots of soup on the weekend for weekday lunches. home made soup is so satisfying for work lunches. And I completely agree, it is good for you, and economical as well. Last weekend I made Laurie Colwin's "At Last,Black Bean Soup" and a Moosewood Cookbook Minestrone, both my first experiences with soaking and cooking dried beans/garbonzos from scratch, and I was happy with the results. This week, I am thinking about a French Onion, (will probably try to find a lightened version)...have been making French bread this week, and would like to use that, along with some light Finlandia Swiss cheese, and we are cooking a turkey, so will definitely be making turkey soup.

                                                                3. Everyday I eat the same thing for lunch: salad, cottage cheese and rice crackers with a spread/dip and baby carrots.

                                                                  1. I pack lunch every day, and I can't remember the last time I had a sandwich.

                                                                    If there are no leftovers available, I have a "stash" in the freezer:

                                                                    *portions of soup/chili/stew (packaged in ceramic soup mugs with lids)
                                                                    *burritos - various kinds, each individually wrapped
                                                                    *lasagna - again, various kinds, also wrapped individually

                                                                    Since they're frozen solid, I can just leave them out until lunchtime, then nuke gently until warm. In the case of the lasagna, I unwrap it while frozen and plunk it into a microwave-safe container to thaw.

                                                                    Also, I've been known to lunch on various combinations of leftovers - today is probably going to be a bit of smoked turkey-pinto bean soup from last weekend mixed with a serving of leftover rice from yesterday.

                                                                    1. Today's lunch... smoked chicken, fresh spinach, and hummus wrap... and wheat berries with honey greek yogurt.

                                                                      1. Today's lunch was an egg salad sandwich on whole wheat bread, and black bean soup with "fixings"....baked tortilla chips, crumbled over the top, about an ounce of 2% shredded Mexican cheese, salsa, chopped scallions and cilantro and about a tablespoon of fat free sour cream.

                                                                        1. Brought the entire package of bacon on Monday, with lettuce and tomato in a zip lock. We always keep a loaf of bread for morning toast and sandwiches. Cooked bacon in microwave and had BLT's twice this week and added bacon bits to my morning grits! (I'm lucky we have a full kitchen in the office)

                                                                          1. Today was leftover lasagna w/ an apple. Tomorrow will be leftover chicken noodle soup w/ a a cornmeal muffin. Orange slices, if I have any oranges left.

                                                                            1. Tomorrow's lunch will be a salad with a slice of turkey, a slice of deli ham, a slice of Jarlsberg lite cheese, a cup of Pasta Fagiol, (which I can make better than I can spell!) a slice of my husband's home made bread, a yogurt and an orange.

                                                                              1. I've been doing fajitas again this week. Just marinated chicken breast cut into strips with fajita seasoning and olive oil, cooked it all up, cooked some onions (caramelized) and peppers, pack up enough for one fajita in tupperware along with small containers of low-fat sour cream and sauce/salsa, some pepper jack cheese in another small container, and a tortilla in plastic wrap. Then I put everything together after I heat up the chicken and peppers. If you wrap the plastic wrap around the finished fajita, the filling won't get all over the place while you're eating it.

                                                                                It's a lot of containers to clean at the office sink, but it's an easy thing to do on a Sunday night and have last all week.

                                                                                1. I take fresh raspberries, large whole grain crackers - WASA - some kind of cheese spread and some lunch meat. I make an open faced sandwich. It is a healthy lunch, yet low in calories. the fiber in the fruit and crackers really fills me up. I also snack on almonds and cashews in the morning.

                                                                                  1. I've been on a wrap kick: Joseph's flax, oatbran & whole wheat lavosh, hummus (particularly on the tail end to act as "glue) heaping handfuls of spinach or spring salad mix, olives, feta (or blue cheese, or parmesan or whatever,) and some kind of protein. I've been using canned tuna, anchovies, sliced tuna, leftover chicken, lunchmeat, or tossing in some nuts. I hit it with a dash of salt and pepper and possibly a drizzle of salad dressing, but not always. Then roll, slice in two and wrap in plastic wrap. Yum!

                                                                                    I've also done a pizza wrap with the lavosh, and pizza ingredients as well as a burrito wrap with the logical equivalents. If the contents are too moist to wrap up in advance, you can always just keep the lavosh at the office and bring the contents in daily. As long as you don't mix dressing with greens, you can just mix or layer in the tupperware container. I tried pitas but found the messiness quotient too great, stuff kept leaking and falling out.

                                                                                    Happy lunching!
                                                                                    I also keep a stach of pudding cups that don't require refrigeration, unsweetened fruit cups, and other low carb snacks in my file cabinet.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: aggiecat

                                                                                      What a good idea - getting some of this on my shopping list!

                                                                                    2. this week was homemade 10 bean soup and turkey chili. We've been using 16 oz. styrofoam cups instead of bowls or plates since they take up less room on your desk.

                                                                                      1. The last couple of days, I have been bringing soup of one kind or another (today was home made chicken noodle with lots of vegetables, yesterday was Progresso light Southwest vegetable), and egg salad, made with one whole egg, three egg whites, stone ground mustard, a little sweet pickle relish, and some fat free mayo. Yesterday I had 3 Wasa light crackers with it, today a slice of homemade rye bread. Also, some fruit....yesterday was cherries, and today was grapes, and a fat free yogurt.

                                                                                        1. To accompany whatever I make for the main event (mostly covered by other posts, so I won't duplicate), I make up some mini cheesecakes from a no-bake recipe. Basically it's a base made from crushed cookies and melted butter, with the whipped cheesecake filling (cream cheese, whipped cream, sugar, flavour) in little containers, which I freeze. They keep the other lunch things cool and are usually defrosted by the time lunchtime comes around (it's Summer here in Australia).

                                                                                          They are only tiny; the containers I use are 100ml - so they are not big enough to be hugely sinful and are a nice little treat in the middle of the workday.

                                                                                          Just did a batch of passionfruit cheesecakes tonight, in fact!

                                                                                          1. Last summer my favorite lunch was a big salad composed of several make aheads. Weekly I'd make a marinaded cuke/tomato/pepper salad. I'd also make a mixture of steamed sweet potatoes/ black beans mixed with a little mayo and sriracha. The actual lunch was a mixture of greens, the two made ahead salads, a piece of cumin rubbed salmon. A little fruit for dessert and I was a happy camper. I never got tired of this combination and it was really quick to put together each day.

                                                                                            1. If you're eating meat at dinner pack the leftovers with veggies in a wrap it's a quick to-go meal.

                                                                                              1. I've struggled with this as i travel between my main office and various client's office throughout the year. Simultaneously, I'm trying to consume the majority of my calories between breakfast and lunch. Currently, I'm doing wraps with snacks (crackers, fruit, or pretzels). If I have leftovers, I'll take those to work.

                                                                                                I'm struggling to start preparing 1-2 weeks worth of (real) meals for lunch.

                                                                                                1. I take leftover vegetable curry, cold roasted veggie salad over spinach with some crumbled feta, leftover soup or stew, things like that.

                                                                                                  1. We call them food units. We take leftovers and dole them out into single serve containers and freeze them. Each day I pull lunch out of the freezer, grab a piece of fruit and off to work. We use the Reynolds deli containers that you can get a restaurant supply stores, they are cheap and come in multiple sizes that all fit the same lid. Also they stack tight so take up very little space in the cupboard. And can be re-used and then re-cycled when they wear out. We use 1-cup for casseroles and 2-cup for soups. We have even turned on a few friends to the glory of food units and they swear by them now.

                                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: pairswellwithwine

                                                                                                      I do a similar thing, though not quite as orderly as you. :) I use mine "food units" (I love that!) as kind of a backup plan - when there are no leftovers in the fridge, I do like to have a small assortment of single-serve meals in the freezer - roast pork and carrots, short ribs and mashed potatoes, veggie lasagna, that sort of thing.

                                                                                                      Also, I like to keep homemade burritos in the freezer, for when all else fails. Currently, I think we're working on a batch of smoked turkey and pinto bean with cheddar cheese.

                                                                                                      1. re: Krislady

                                                                                                        Krislady, please share your recipe and/or method for making burritos - I love them but never made at home.

                                                                                                      2. re: pairswellwithwine

                                                                                                        I wonder if the double ziploc trick would work for food units. I don't see why not. It irks me when I forget to freeze the leftovers in time. Consider me motivated! Food units! Yes!

                                                                                                        1. re: pairswellwithwine

                                                                                                          Love your "food units" concept, pairs! Do you label your containers? I found that file labels stay on well and peel off easy without leaving sticky goo. Will definitely look for Reynolds containers - thank you for the suggestion.

                                                                                                          1. re: herby

                                                                                                            I just use a sharpie on the lid it scrubs right off for re-use.

                                                                                                          2. re: pairswellwithwine

                                                                                                            Food units! That's genius, and it makes it a no-brainer too when it comes to making sure you have a homemade lunch everyday.

                                                                                                          3. Liberte' yogurt or $$. We do not take real lunch breaks. It is lunch on the fly.