How Do You Pack The Perfect Lunch?

Hello, and welcome back to What's Cooking?, the open thread where you get to share your brilliant thoughts, advice, recipes and opinions on all things food-related. This week I'd like to talk about packed lunches, and how you keep them tasty and interesting.

Photo by Mr.TinDC.

Your midday meal can be a joyous break or a bleak affair, depending on how you plan it, so I want to know how you make your work lunch happy. Some questions to get you going:

  • What kind of lunch-carrying container do you use? Do you like an insulated bag, a classic square lunchbox, a cute little bento or a literal paper bag?
  • What does your average lunch look like? How many items do you have in there? Are there any foods you simply must pack?
  • Do you pack a beverage? I used to find my days went much better if I was hydrated, so tried to always pack a big bottle of water with lemon slices, plus a Diet Coke to keep me caffeinated.
  • What is your most clever lunch-packing and -eating tip? The best thing I ever did for my work lunch game was stock my drawer with good salt, lemons and hot sauce.
  • How important is variety? Do you eat the same thing every day? Making a big batch of something and eating it throughout the week always seemed like a good, budget-friendly idea, but it also seemed kind of monotonous. Do you try to mix it up, or are repeat meals OK?
  • How big of a role do leftovers play? I used to love the days when I could just pack a slice or two of leftover pizza, but found that most leftovers had to be re-imagined into something new and exciting. Leftover steak became a salad, chilli con carne got mixed with cheese and served with tortilla chips, roasted vegetables became a taco filling, and so on.
  • What food do you consider "off limits" for work? I think bringing a stinky lunch to a shared eating space is the height of rudeness, and people who microwave fish at work are monsters. Also making anything that takes a long time to microwave is fairly rude.
  • Do you ever participate in "lunch swaps" or group lunches? A group of ladies at my old job would always do mini potlucks for each other's birthdays. Those were pretty fun, especially because there was usually cake.
  • Where do you usually eat lunch? Is it at your desk? Don't eat at your desk.

As always, feel free to comment on anything and everything lunch-related, even if it isn't in answer to any of the above questions, as I value all of your tasty wisdom.


Comments

    What kind of lunch-carrying container do you use? I use Tupperware containers, but I am slowly investing in glass containers so I’m not eating out of microwaved plastic.
    What does your average lunch look like? I pack between 2-5 items. Usually it’s a piece of fruit/veg and left overs. Today it’s a banana, carrot, olives, hummus and a tin of tuna because I’m lazy and it has all the necessary brain food.
    Do you pack a beverage? Nope, but I have a whole range of pods in my desk draw if I need a pick me up. Plus a bottle of water is always nearby. I aim to drink 2 litres while sitting at my desk.
    What is your most clever lunch-packing and -eating tip? I have mustard in my work fridge for bland lunches. I always keep salt around for good measure.
    How important is variety? Do you eat the same thing every day? Before I got married I would eat the same thing for lunch every day in a week. One week roast and veg, next a veggie bake.
    How big of a role do leftovers play? Very big. Without left overs my lunches would just be tuna, veg and fruit.
    What food do you consider "off limits" for work? Basically any hot fish dish. No one likes the smell of microwaved fish
    Do you ever participate in "lunch swaps" or group lunches? No but my last workplace had regular morning teas and it was brilliant, when everyone bought stuff there was enough for lunch.
    Where do you usually eat lunch? I tend to eat it in the lunch room. But as a teacher sometime I just need to eat on the go, or in my classroom watching kiddos. Occasionally at my desk when the staffroom seems too far away and I only have 5 mins until I need to leave the staff room.

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