Packing Lunches

Where I work, lunch is provided to staff free of charge, but the only thing that’s ever vegan is the salad bar (and fruit). The salad bar can be kind of hit or miss as far as there being anything good. I usually treat it as a backup for when I don’t have the time to make a lunch or haven’t been shopping. I’m glad it’s there, but I prefer to take something I’ve made.

Then again, I know that I’m fortunate to have that option at all!

I talk a lot about eating healthier, and how I want to fix my eating habits. Right now I’m just doing good, old fashioned calorie counting. I started the same week that I packed this lunch.

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Vegan Vidalia Onion Mini-Quiche with Garden Salad, Grapes, Kiwi and Cherries

I was a little horrified to figure out how many calories are in that mini-quiche- in the neighborhood of 700, though it would be perfectly reasonable if I made it without a crust next time. But it looks healthy and appetizing!

If you’re looking to save money or watch your food intake, bringing a lunch with you to work (or school) is essential. I’m not saying it’s not okay to ever go out to lunch- that has its place- but packing your lunch makes a huge difference.

So what do you want to keep in mind when packing?

  • Make it look appetizing! If your lunch looks pretty and draws lots of oohs and ahs from your coworkers, you’ll be more likely to pack it on a regular basis.
  • Keep portion sizes reasonable. While it might not make a big dent in your monetary budget if you’re bringing a lot of food, you don’t want to bite off more than you can chew, so to speak. Although the bento box that I’m using is designed for kids, it holds a lot of food- and can be misleading, depending on what you put inside. I don’t actually eat all of that at lunchtime- much of the fruit I’ll eat later in the afternoon.
  • Try fun and different things! Grab some fruit or a vegetable that you might not otherwise eat and stick it in there. I like kiwis, but it’s not exactly what I reach for when I’m watching TV in the evening. But at lunch, it feels like a special treat!
  • Plan ahead. Unless you’re someone who is up super early, don’t try to do this in the morning. Put as much as you can together the night before, and make it a habit to do so. For this meal, everything can be placed in the box the night before. In one like this, I wouldn’t put in things that would get soggy (like chips) or turn brown (like guacamole) until I’m close to ready to leave in the morning.
  • Make things that you like! There’s no sense in packing something for lunch just because it would look pretty or seem more healthy, if you’re not going to eat it. A lot of people make beautifully decorated bento boxes that look amazing- but are garnished with all kinds of things that I wouldn’t eat, in the name of being cute. Doesn’t seem worth it to me, unless it’s a food that you want to try- or at least try to acquire a taste for. 🙂

Bringing your lunch can be pretty rewarding, and I like the ritual of making my lunch each night before I go to bed. It feels familiar and nice. I may have issues with food, but I eat way better when I pack my lunch than when I don’t- because I’m likely to go to the drug store and pick up Oreos and Diet Coke for lunch with a little salad on the side to make myself feel a little healthier. I know I can do better than that!

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