Friday, January 31, 2014

Packing Real Food for Days at Work

With my recent return to daily adventures with a classroom of children {a.k.a. full time teaching} I'm so grateful that my husband and I started to figure out last year how to prepare food that he enjoys eating while at work.

Because a while back when I was doing a daily commute that I'm truly embarrassed of, working over time, and barely keeping my head above water we weren't packing lunches. As in, I'd grab a can of soup or a box of crackers to keep at work and munch when possible and he would go out to lunch daily. Sounds unhealthy and expensive... well, we've made it a priority to figure this out and now we have a the skeletons of a system to pack appropriate meals for the two of us and our work days. I thought I'd share in case it gave some new ideas to some families while packing.

-Breakfasts & Morning Snacks
At the beginning of the school year we made smoothies, muffins, and breakfast bakes to eat in the morning - whether we eat this at home or take to work. This meant some preparations over the summer. We hit up a few you-pick berry farms and froze berries, chopped super ripe bananas. I try to keep coconut milk on hand.

Recently we've been making containers of already prepared veggies and cooked bulk sausage to throw together a quick breakfast right before we head out the door.

When I have an extra few minutes and nothing else prepared I find that fruit and oatmeal is great too. Oatmeal isn't my husband's favorite, so he prefers something with a little more protein or a little more jam {toast is just the vehicle for jam, right?!}.

-Lunches & Afternoon Snacks
We typically pack our left overs from dinner for several of our lunches each week. Other days we might make a sandwich or a super tasty salad. I round everything out with fresh fruit, trail mix, no-bake energy bites {we love this recipe from Ali with Gimme Some Oven}, or other easy prep seasonal side dishes {i.e. different types of potato salads, black beans & brown rice, cucumber/tomato salads, fresh salsa & tortilla chips, quinoa based sides}. Many of these items I can prepare one evening at the beginning of the week or over the weekend so we're ready to go on Monday. Sometimes I make a big pot of soup or chili on Sunday that will only be eaten for lunches that week. And to save time in the mornings I scoop up lunch sized containers when it is finished cooking {less things to do in the morning - hooray!}. Then the only thing left to do is gather all the goodies into our lunch bags!

Need a few reasons to pack your lunch? We realized that when packing our lunch we save money - at least $30 to $40 a week. We typically enjoy the food that we are eating more than what we might pick up at a deli. We also found that we created less food waste since we would eat the food we cook (just because it was so convenient since we already spent the time to pack it up).

Need more inspiration? Check out this link of lunch prep tips and recipes from Lisa at the 100 Days of Real Food blog:

10 Recipes to Freeze for School Lunches

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