Whether your mid-day meal is at noon or 3am, you may struggle coming up with quick and easy workday lunch ideas. So, this could leave you dealing with eating the same thing every day, a rumbling belly, a quick stop at a convenience store, or scrounging for change for that coveted turkey sandwich in the breakroom vending machine. With a little planning and creativity you can have more control over what you eat to fuel you through the workday.
Small choices can make a big impact on your wallet, health, and the planet! According to Visa, the average American spends over $2,700/year on lunches, around $50 a week, wouldn’t you like to see that in your bank account instead? Packing your lunch gives you more control over what kind of food you’re eating, so you are less likely to eat something unhealthy or overeat. It can also help reduce waste, since around half of all litter is produced from fast food garbage!
Whether you are trying to save money, eat healthier, or do your part to reduce waste, here are a few ideas for easy workday lunches!
Heat It and Eat It:
- Leftovers: instead of letting your leftovers turn into a science projects in the back of your fridge, grab some reusable lunch size containers and portion them out for a quick grab and go lunch.
- Omelette in a Cup: spray a microwave safe cup with some cooking spray, add an egg or two, and some toppings of choice (cheese, ham, peppers, onions, salsa – the options are endless), stir it up, and microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring each time until cooked.
- Soups & Stews: keep an eye out for sales at your local grocery store and stock up on some of your favorite soups or stews. Keeping a couple cans at work or in your travel bag can be a budget saver when you are too busy to pack a lunch.
- Chicken Salad or Caesar Wraps: prepare the salad base of your choosing (tip: bagged salads make life so easy and are often on sale), cut up some grilled chicken, and roll it all up into a tortilla for healthy and delicious meal.
- Tuna, Chicken, Ham, or Turkey Salad: whether you opt for canned or chopped meat you can easily make a protein packed salad with some mayonnaise, mustard, dressing, some diced veggies (celery, onions, pickles, olives, craisins), and some salt & pepper. Grab your favorite bread, or throw it on top of a bed of lettuce. Yum!
- Peanut Butter & Jelly: reminisce about your childhood with the classic peanut butter & jelly (or fluff) sandwich. Make a whole flashback meal with some fruit snacks, graham crackers, and a pudding cup. Make your mother happy and be sure to grab an apple or orange for good measure.
Weekly Meal Prep Lunches:
- Charcuterie Snackle-Boxes: head to your local dollar store grab a few clear boxes with built in compartments (like flat tackle boxes or craft boxes) pre-fill compartments with an assortment of cheeses, meats, fruit, nuts, veggies, berries, and condiments. Grab and go daily for quick, easy, and delicious sustenance.
- Mason Jar Salads: since they are airtight by design mason jars are perfect for weekly salad prep. Mix it up and try different dressings and ingredients but be sure to add your items in this specific order to preserve freshness: dressing at the bottom, then add ingredients by weight, protein, cheeses, nuts, veggies, greens.
- Rice Bowls: if you need variety to your daily lunches start with a base of rice & chicken, and then jazz your daily meal up using different sauces and veggies for each day. You can add beans, salsa, cheese for a nice Mexican meal. Add cucumbers, olives, tomatoes, and tzatziki to get that greek flavor (tip: grab a pita and hummus for the side). Teriyaki sauce, broccoli, cabbage, ginger, and shredded carrots to cure that craving for chinese take out.