A few things I’ve found helpful while learning how to pack a lunch: how I try to balance planning ahead with being flexible.
Hi. If you’re like me you dislike meal prep. Once I dive in and do it, it’s not so bad. But “not so bad” doesn’t mean I want to do it. My thought process on a typical Sunday evening?
I think, “I should make sure I have meals ready so I’m not scrambling to pull something together while trying to get out the door.” But then, “what if I make something and then I don’t feel like eating it the next day?” (Now would be a good time for you to say “deal with it.”)
One last complaint: there’s also the fact that it’s just not as fun to cook if you’re not going to eat whatever it is you’re cooking directly afterwards. Does anyone else identify with that, or is it just me?
Now that I’ve had my rant, let’s get down to business of how to pack a lunch. My whole meal prep philosophy is this: balance being prepared with being flexible. In other words, have a variety of nourishing, satisfying options at the ready. Here are the practical factors I run through to make sure it happens.
What to get. Your body needs protein, carbs, and fat. And also fiber. When I make a lunch, whether I’m packing it or not, I make sure I have all of those components in some form. Otherwise, hanger reigns. Get stuff you like that nourishes you.
Prepping individual components. For the sake of my sanity and to humor my “I only want to eat what I feel like eating” attitude, I don’t usually plan specific meals for specific days. I like having a plethora of prepped and ready-to-go options that I can throw together in whatever combination sounds good. I’ll roast sweet potatoes. Wash lettuce. Cook chicken. Those types of things.
Assembling meals. When you assemble meals will depend on your schedule. Will it work best if you do it all on Sunday night? Maybe you just need to pack a lunch a few days a week. Can you put it together the. night before? I try to think ahead and figure out what my schedule will look like. If I have several days where I’ll be out late, I’ll pack all my meals early on in the week, so I don’t have to be in the kitchen making sandwiches at midnight.
Coming up with combinations. No joke, I keep a running list in my bullet journal where I can jot down lunch ideas or a lunch I made that I liked. I also have a meal prep Pinterest board (check it out here!) for inspiration. And Lee from Fit Foodie Finds is pretty much the meal prep queen. Like I said before, make sure you have protein, carbs, fat, and flavors that you enjoy!
The fun stuff: other unordered ideas to keep boredom at bay.
- I like to roast a pan of vegetables at the beginning of the week. For me, having cooked vegetables makes my lunches feel less meal-preppy and more satisfying.
- If you like kale salads, they’re a great way to go. Kale holds up better than most greens and tastes better if it can sit in the dressing for a while before you eat. (See this post for how to make a simple, satisfying salad.)
- Try a sauce/dip/spread to top your lunches. I love avocados and hummus (hashtag basic), so those are two of my go-tos.
- Kombucha can be kind of spendy, but there are times when it’s just worth it.
- Something sweet to end your meals. I like to end meals with something sweet (duh). I’ll often bake a batch of something that keeps well at the beginning of the week, or I’ll keep it simple and pack dark chocolate and peanut butter. You can never go wrong with that.
- Go out for lunch. Contrary to popular belief, you are not a bad person if you don’t pack every single lunch.
That’s my how to pack a lunch and it’s what’s been working for me! What’s your ‘how to pack a lunch’? I’d love to hear your meal prep tips and tricks!
Linking up for Thinking Out Loud!