4 Time-Saving Lunch Packing Hacks

4 Time-Saving Lunch Packing Hacks

If you’re worried about how returning to “real life” will affect your eating habits (and, let’s be honest, your pocketbook), you’re not alone. In the wake of working remotely for more than a year, many individuals are re-entering the world of commuting and dismal desk salads, which is accompanied by concern about health and safety and conflicting emotions about working in an office environment for the first time in years. That feeling of being overwhelmed upon re-entry is no joke.

Returning to work and having forgotten how to meal prep? Back on the packed lunch wagon with these dietitian tips.

Going back to work after working remotely during the pandemic? While sorting out your feelings may take some time, you can start thinking about your lunch.

You’re not alone in worrying about how “back to reality” will affect your eating (and your wallet, let’s face it). For many people, returning to the world of commuting and sad desk salads is a mixed bag of anxiety about health and safety, and mixed feelings about working in an office setting. Re-entry overwhelm is real.

Focusing on a few manageable tasks at a time can help you adjust. To make healthy eating more convenient, focus on small, sustainable changes like making healthy salads and snacks at home.


Easy Packed Lunch Ideas

So, whether you’re already back at work, will be soon, or just need to restart your homemade meals, here are a few of my favorite tips for Lunch Packing

  1. Restart meal prep.

If you’re used to cooking every meal from scratch while working remotely, don’t feel obligated to start meal prepping immediately. Begin with the basics (think: adding beans to a salad, hard-boiled eggs, overnight oats, chia pudding). The same goes for prepping a week’s worth of meals if you return to work on a hybrid schedule. Make lunches for two or three days, or just extra dinner portions for lunches. To save time, dust off your slow cooker or Instant Pot.

Use this simple formula for a balanced, nutrient-dense meal: Fill half of your plate (or meal prep container) with veggies, then protein, then fiber (ex: whole grains, sweet potatoes, corn, peas, lentils, fruit, nuts and seeds), and healthy fat (ex: avocado) (cooking with olive oil, adding avocado, or garnishing with a little nut or seed butter in a sauce).

  1. Use healthy shortcuts.

Using healthy shortcuts saves time. Be sure to stock up on healthy shelf-stable pantry staples like canned or tinned fish and tomatoes. Pre-cut produce or vegetable mixes can also save time when cooking meals or preparing multiple lunches. Meal Prep and Cooking Made Easier with Frozen Vegetables

Meal kits are great for simplifying dinner, but they can also be portioned out for multiple lunches. They save time because you can choose the recipes online ahead of time and have the ingredients delivered to your door.

Use a half-scratch method, pairing a pre-made protein or veggie side with your own creation. Meal kit companies now offer add-ons for this purpose. For example, Freshly now offers multi-serving packs of grilled chicken breasts, meatballs, and seasoned cauliflower rice. Add cooked pulled or grilled chicken, salmon fillets, or falafel to your Sunbasket order. Blue Apron now includes meal prep. Lunch prep is easy with Hungryroot’s meal component delivery.

  1. Have a plan B.

When you know you won’t be able to cook or meal prep, have backup plans. Keep healthy frozen meals or extras of things you’ve made and frozen, like soup or chili, in your freezer to heat up when you’re ready to eat. You can also order healthy prepared meals from Freshly, Territory Foods, or Sakara. Smoothie lovers can try Daily Harvest (which also has soups, grain bowls, and lattes) or Evive (no blender required). When lunch prep isn’t happening, healthier frozen meals or pre-made soups can be backup options. (Related: Easy Morning Smoothies from the Freezer)

  1. Have self-discipline.

It’s important to be compassionate and patient during this time of transition. It takes time to form habits (or re-form them), so be patient. Allowing yourself to adjust as needed will help you find your meal prep lunch stride (Lunch Packing) in no time.


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