When you're planning to pack healthy lunches for work, there are a few questions you have to answer first:
- What am I going to eat and how much?
- What do I need to buy and what do I need to cook or prepare in advance?
- What am I going to pack the food in?
- Does the food need to be refrigerated? If so, how do I keep it cold before lunchtime?
- Does the food need to be heated? If so, do I have a way to do that at lunchtime?
Schedule time to prepare food, including any slicing, chopping, mixing or cooking. After you get your food ready, divide it into serving-size containers for transport. These can include resealable plastic containers of different sizes, plastic sandwich and snack bags, and plastic, paper or foil wrappings. Then, on your way out the door each day, take a few seconds to grab some of these containers and pack the day's lunch to take with you.
Before planning what to pack, consider your options for transporting and preparing your lunch. This will make a big difference in what kind of lunch you put together. The following list breaks down these options and presents some transporting ideas for each:
- No cold items -- You might only need a paper bag for this lunch, though be cautious if there's anything in the bag that might melt if it gets too warm, like chocolate.
- Some cold items -- Use an insulated lunch bag, adding a cooling pack if you have a long commute, you're commuting in hot weather, or if you don't have a fridge at work. If you don't have a cooling pack, drop some ice cubes in a zipper sandwich bag, or freeze a disposable plastic bottle of water which can double as a refreshment for later.
- Some frozen items -- Use the frozen items in an insulated lunch bag to keep other food cold and make sure your workplace has a freezer you can put the frozen items in.
- At least one thing has to be heated -- Be sure your workplace has what you need to heat your lunch, such as a microwave or a toaster oven.
Once you know how you can transport your lunch and what your options are for preparing it, you can choose what to eat. The next pages of this article will help you with this part of your plan.