Most weight loss professionals agree that meal prepping and packing your own food helps with weight loss and weight management. We find that most of our clients have issues continually meal prepping and packing their own lunches. This blog is dedicated to giving you all some of the basic rules of packing your lunches.
1.) Tupperware is essential.
I feel it goes without saying that if you don’t have anything to pack your lunches in then you can’t bring food to work! Tupperware is needed to be successful with your packed meals. I don’t think that you need a whole cabinet full of it, but you need enough to have a weeks worth of meals packed in the refrigerator at one time. I recommend you get smaller 3 ounce containers for things like salad dressing, hummus or peanut butter. So then you can save money by buying bigger tubs of condiments and portion them out yourself. Buy Tupperware or Pyrex type glassware that can be microwaved safely.
2.) Don’t pair hot foods with cold foods.
Don’t put your meats or any other foods you intend to microwave in the same container as your cold foods. It’s better to pack them in separate containers to make microwaving easier. Even better is to prep all hot meals or all cold meals. EX: a salad with cold salmon or egg salad so no microwaving is needed.
3.) Weekend preparation.
The best way to be successful with packed lunches are to prep multiple meals at one time. You can also cook enough food at dinner to have extra portions for your lunch the next day. Examples of easy multiple portion meals are: casseroles, soups and stews, chili, roasted vegetables.
4.) Lunchtime taboos.
There are certain types of foods that some co-workers won’t appreciate! Always be considerate of your fellow employee lounge residents. Examples of foods that should you should think twice about using for packed lunches include: fish, curries, some fermented foods, burnt popcorn.
5.) Portion out your snacks ahead of time.
I always have snacked sized tupperware available so that I can pick 1 or 2 snacks to bring to work. As mentioned above if you get a 3 ounce tupperware you can put dips, hummus or peanut butter in them for snacks. You can cut up vegetables and portion them out into small bags. You can also portion out nuts and crackers in the same way. If you have these always accessible in the pantry or fridge then it’s easy to grab and go. Examples of good snacks: hard boiled eggs, hummus and vegetables, cheese and crackers, peanut butter with banana, string cheese.
6.) Don’t prep food that doesn’t reheat well.
The biggest thing to avoid are big cuts of meat to try and re-heat. The T-bone steak will not taste good after being microwaved for 5 minutes to get warm. A huge chicken breast may be hard to re-heat evenly. Well steamed vegetables will turn soggy once microwaved again. Try and prep al dente vegetables so they will be soft once microwaved. Potato based products can get dried out in the microwave (mashed potato, baked potato) and may need added calories to be enjoyed. Add a teaspoon or two of water to the rice you are about to re-heat to prevent dryness.
7.) If at all possible bring multiple days worth of food at one time.
If you have a mini fridge of your own or a community refrigerator at work you can bring a few days worth of food at one time as long as they are labeled. This helps cut down on forgetting your lunch and then having to buy a higher calorie or expensive option.
8.) Frozen meals.
You can even meal prep your own frozen meals to keep in the freezer at work in case of emergency. You can even keep these meals frozen at home and bring to work on weeks or days you weren’t able to meal prep. Examples of good frozen meal options: lasagna, chili, stews.
8.) Have a Plan B.
So it will happen when you weren’t able to meal prep or you forget your lunch on the bus. On those days make sure you have a go to plan B. My plan B is usually 7-11. I know it sounds crazy but it actually can work. I will pick a few options from 7-11 because it is portion controlled, has a nutrition label on all items and is affordable. Examples of plan B 7-11 items: hard boiled eggs, pre-packaged sandwich, high protein bar, cheese sticks, fresh fruit, P3 pack, popcorn, small bag of nuts.