Packing a lunch not only saves you money, it can be so much more delicious than the takeout du jour. Forget about the sad brown sack image and the soggy PB & J, and start thinking about some bright new solutions. These tips and 14 recipes ask only that you plan and prep ahead, because, let’s be honest, who has extra time in the morning? Your wallet, waistline and taste buds will thank you.
Soup’s on. You won’t get tired of the same old dish when you make a big pot of soup and freeze all the leftovers in lunch-sized portions.
Plan ahead. Use the weekend to make something special just for work. Try a big batch of El Grande Burritos or a pasta bake like this Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese.
Tote in a cute container. No need to rely on the old brown bag when you can store your lunch in a handy satchel that keeps everything cool.
Go bento. You don’t have to adopt exotic flavors to try making compartmentalized lunch kits of your own. Try Fried Chicken Bento and adopt new ideas from there.
Do a little prep at work. Don’t hesitate to pack a paring knife and cut up any fruits or veggies that might dry out or brown if sliced in advance. These Kuhn Rikon knives are perfect for the office or a picnic.
Don’t let salads get soggy. Bring a big bag of greens to work. Stock up on small reusable containers that allow you to pack your dressing, fruits and veggies separately.
Skip the soda. Keep a water bottle with you, and break up the routine by trying tea or a sparkling flavored water at lunch.
Make a little extra. While you’re making dinner, put together your sides for lunch. As you clean up after the meal, put together a sandwich or pasta salad using the leftovers.
Find a secret weapon. Grab an extra rotisserie chicken to use all week. You can turn it into sandwich, soup, pasta or salad for a delicious and different effect every time.
Slow cook it. If a slow-cooker meal is on the books for dinner, plan out several ways to turn the leftovers into sandwiches with interesting twists, like Slow Cooker Teriyaki Sesame Chicken Wraps.
Elevate your experience. Bring a set of utensils, a bowl and a plate from home. You’ll have everything you need to reheat and eat without being dependent on disposables.