When I first started working full-time, I thought long and hard about how I wanted to handle meals when at work. Based on my schedule, I usually eat both breakfast, lunch, and a few snacks at the office, and those meals are crucial for keeping my productivity high!
I knew that I didn’t want to go out to eat for every meal, since that can be expensive, time consuming, and even boring after awhile if the restaurant selection around your workplace is fairly limited. However, packing two meals per day isn’t easy, either – it takes a lot of planning, creativity, and time.
After a few weeks of working, I figured out what my schedule usually looks like and came up with a game plan for packing meals at least most of the time (usually 4 out of 5 days of the work week, at minimum)!
Follow these tips to make the most out of bringing meals to work, and save money while you’re at it:
- Find a few quick, easy breakfast meals that you can make and eat while you’re getting ready to leave. My personal favorites include peanut butter and jelly toast, cooking an egg in a coffee mug, or throwing some granola in Greek yogurt. These breakfasts are easy, filling, and are ready to eat in almost no time at all!
- Try overnight oats. If you’ve never experienced the magic that is overnight oatmeal, I highly recommend you try it! In a nutshell, the steps are as follows: combine equal parts liquid (milk, water, or yogurt) with old-fashioned oats; add fruit, nuts, spices, and anything else you want; mix it all up, seal in a container, and place in the refrigerator overnight. When you wake up the next morning, the oats are ready to eat! They’re meant to be eaten cold, which means you can throw the container in your bag and just go. Oatmeal is a very filling food, which means this breakfast will keep you going all morning. My favorites are apple cinnamon and peanut butter banana!
- Prepare for the inevitable. Some mornings are just busier than others, and making breakfast just isn’t possible. I like to keep granola bars and instant oatmeal packets in my desk at work for scenarios like this.
- Utilize leftovers. Sometimes, I’ll even cook meals in the evenings specifically so I have leftovers for lunch! When you have leftovers, package them in single serving containers so you can just grab and go in the morning.
- Just like with breakfast, prepare for the inevitable. While quick, microwaveable meals aren’t always the healthiest, they’re often cheaper and easier than going out for lunch when you didn’t have time to pack one. Keeping these staples on hand will allow you to simply grab one in the morning on your way out the door. I recommend Mac and cheese cups, soup, or even frozen meals if you have access to a freezer at work.
- Be creative. If you pack a fun lunch, you’ll have something to look forward to all morning! Look up some recipes, take the time to prepare them in advance, and you’ll be all set with some fun meals.
- Always have fruit and veggies on hand. Apples, clementines, grapes, carrots, bell peppers… The list is endless. I often want to snack at my desk simply for another way to occupy my hands while I’m working, so having a low-calorie, healthy snack is a must.
- Try Greek yogurt. With lots of protein and often few calories, Greek yogurt is a great pick-me-up when you need it most in the afternoon. It comes in awesome flavors, too, although I almost always stick to basic strawberry.
- Water. While this might sound like a weird thing to “snack” on, drinking water is great for your body and often leaves you feeling fuller. I rarely drink enough water, so I try to treat this like a snack!
What are your favorite tips and tricks for packing food for work? Any advice?