Packed Lunch Essentials

Friday, September 11, 2009

When I joined WW I made a concerted effort to pack my lunch for work. Not only did it mean that I had control over what it was that I was packing, it also meant that I had snacks for the day (which kept me away from the freshly baked croissants and pastries at the Holt Renfrew cafe downstairs) but it also meant that I was saving a heck of a lot of money. With my food intolerances, it has become an even more regular practice because my lunch choices are limited, and it would be far too expensive (and boring) to eat at Fresh everyday. So with this being the first week of the kids going back to school I thought it would be fitting for me to talk about the basics of packing your lunch.

The Inspiration
A packed lunch doesn’t have to be boring. Just like with all of your meals, the creativity of your lunch is only limited by your imagination! Think about your favourite foods, the season and scope out what other people are eating if you’re searching for ideas. If you like the structure of bringing the same thing every day, so be it. If you’re like me and you need a little variety, get to it!

One of my favourite sites (and one of the first blogs I started reading) is Vegan Lunch Box. Jennifer has hundreds of ideas for adorable themed lunches and while they were created for kids, they really make lunch seem fun. And while you can’t hire Jennifer to start making your lunches every day you can check out her blog or one of her books for a little extra inspiration for your noon hour nosh.

The Vehicle
Vegan Lunch Box introduced me to the Laptop Lunch system, which I adore!!SANY1579SANY1253

This sounds so corny, but whenever I open up my little pink bento at lunch I get really excited.


I love how everything looks so cute and compartmentalized and the boxes encourage me to add variety.

While I’m not saying that everyone needs to go out and buy a Laptop Lunch (although I wouldn’t blame you if you wanted to), I think that everyone should have a great vehicle for their lunch. There are tonnes of great containers out there that make bringing your lunch to school or work so easy. And since it’s currently “Back to School” time at retail, it’s the perfect opportunity to find some functional containers for your lunch.

Another helpful idea is to have a plate or bowl at work so that you feel like you’re having a proper meal. I did that with my lunch today


It made lunch time feel like more of a meal by simply putting my chili in an actual bowl. Using proper dishes with real cutlery will cause you to slow down, eat consciously and allow you to actually enjoy your food.

The Goods
A little planning and preparation is required in order to have yummy, nutritious lunches to bring with you to work/school. I like to get the bulk of the work done in one chunk of time, so I’ll spend a few hours making soup, chopping veggies and preparing snacks. It makes the rest of the week a lot easier and means that I have things I can easily pick and choose from during the week. Your slow cooker can also be your best friend when preparing for lunches, especially now that fall is on its way and a bowl of soup can provide an extra little bit of warmth midday. My favourite slow cooker site is
A Year of Slowcooking. Stephanie has a ton of great ideas and many of them require very little preparation, making it really easy to have delicious foods for your lunches!

One of my favourite things to have for lunch is leftovers from the previous night. It makes my life so easy because when I’m tidying up after supper I put the leftovers into lunch containers, into the fridge and then they’re ready to go for the next morning. Voila! I’m also a big fan of the “combination platter”. If you’re short of time or “proper lunch foods” you can put together a great lunch by simply combining some of the things in your fridge or pantry – like fresh fruit and veggies, nuts, crackers and a dip or spread of some variety.

I also like to make big batches of things to have in the fridge or freezer. This week I made a big pot of lentil soup, veggie wraps, veggie chili, homemade larabars and buckwheat apple butter muffins. It means that you’ve always got options and things you can easily grab even if you’ve only got 5 minutes in the morning to pack your lunch.
SANY2129Packing my lunch also usually means that I have snacks throughout the day, which helps tide me over until the next meal. Some of my favourites include: fresh fruit, veggies (on their own or with hummus), tortilla chips with salsa, homemade bars or muffins, nuts and seeds, dried fruit or rice cakes with nut butter.

I generally just feel a lot happier when I bring my lunch! It sounds so cheesy, but I like knowing what’s in my food and I don’t like spending an arm and a leg for food that I don’t want to eat and isn’t going to leave me satisfied. So if you’re looking to be more in control of what you’re eating, want to be eating healthier options and want to save a few dollars, bringing your lunch even a few days a week could be a great opportunity for you to accomplish any (or all!) of these objectives!

How often do you pack your lunch? What are your favourite things to bring?


Lauren said...

I work from home most of the time, so I don't bring lunch. But I love those laptop lunches. I want one just so I can organize the different sections! So cute!

GF Gidget said...

I pack my lunch every day. Leftovers save my life! Even if there aren't enough of them for a full meal, I put them on a salad or add extra veggies for bulk.

jessica said...

I always bring a lunch! Not only does it save me a ton of money but it saves me a ton of stomach aches! Plus you get to eat exactly what you want without making a ton of substitutions!

Ali Raney said...

I've been wondering where you got those cute little lunch boxes!! Where can I find them in the T-dot?

Ashley Gibson said...

I got mine at iQLiving on the Danforth - but they also have them at all Chapters/Indigo locations nowadays

Unknown said...

I love your lil lunch box! too cute-everything looks so yummy! :)

Becki said...

i was at our brand new indigo the other day and saw these cute lunch bags with pretty flower designs on them and stuff..and then realized that they are the new laptop lunch kits! SO pretty!
i have the blue one though,and i love it. :)

39 To Go! said...

your meals always look SO good!!

Meghan (Making Love In The Kitchen) said...

Working from home, lunch is a challenge... believe it or not. Especially since I work in a healthy kitchen. I have taken to packing a lunch in the morning for myself- otherwise I end up simply snacking from 11-2 without actually removing myself from work and having a proper meal. Already I am noticing (and feeling!) the benefits.

Nachos said...

The gel cool earth bento boxes are great too!

I always take lunch to work - the only things in my work area are fast food outlets and a small supermarket! [And being vegan narrows down my options a whole lot!]

My lunch box is normally 1/4 left overs (or some kind of hot food like a stir fry, stew etc), 1/4 fruit and 1/2 raw veg or salad. Plus I make fresh fruit & veg juice every morning for breakfast!

P.s. You have totally made me love avocado. I used to hate it so much, but the more I looked at it on your blog, the more I wanted it... and I learned to love it. I feel like I missed out for so long!!

Anonymous said...

ok thats it...I'm getting a laptop lunch box. My other (fabric) one is stinky...

Going to I.Q living tonight and I'll pick one up for Kannan too. Do they come in "Guy" styles?

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