Whether you’re settling into your back to school routine or are just trying to turn your lunch habits around for work, you’ve probably faced the challenge of packing the perfect lunch box.
The advantages of packing lunch are numerous; it can help you save money, and you can better control what you eat on a daily basis. But how do you pack a lunch box so perfect that you’re not tempted by food trucks, fast food joints and more? Not to worry, I’ve got you covered with 6 tips to pack a better lunch box.
1. Invest in the Right Tools
After years of trying to make a lunch-packer out of myself, I’ve discovered that having the right tools makes all the difference. That’s why I’m all about versatile tupperware and a good lunch box or bag. A handful of trusty tupperware containers (no one likes leaks) in the right shapes and sizes will make packing lunch easier, and with reusable containers, you won’t be wasting plastic (or money!). Similarly, having a dedicated lunch bag will make the packing process run more smoothly each night or morning as you pack up the different components of your lunch.
2. Use Your Space Wisely
Once you’ve gathered your lunch box, tupperware & ice pack (should you need it), you’re ready to start assembling. The next step is to make the most of the space you have on hand. I’m a big fan of bento boxes because they have different compartments for different foods while still remaining fairly compact, but more traditional lunch boxes can work just as well! If you’re packing foods that need to be kept cool, make sure to put the ice pack on the bottom of the lunch box. Follow with the foods that need to stay cool in order from heaviest to lightest.
3. Be Honest About Your Eating Habits
So, your mom told you to eat your vegetables (mine sure did). That doesn’t mean you have to cram your lunch box full of vegetables that you won’t end up eating, or worse, end up throwing away. The idea of being honest about your eating habits is all about stocking up on foods you know you (or your kids) will actually eat. If your child comes home every day with their cucumber slices untouched, maybe it’s time to try some carrots and ranch, instead!
4. Avoid Repetition
I love a good PB&J sandwich as much as the next person but eating them every day or even a few times a week makes for a pretty boring lunch. Instead, find ways to make the ingredients you have on hand more exciting so each day feels like a new experience. For example, cauliflower florets from day one can be added to mac and cheese for day two. For a twist on the PB&J, peanut butter and jelly tortilla roll-ups can be a fun alternative to the classic sandwich.
5. Play With Your Food
If when you open your lunchbox you find an array of bland food staring back at you, it’s time to start getting creative. It’s true you eat with your eyes first, so it’s important that the contents of your lunch look both appealing and delicious. Keep things lively with bright and colorful fruits and veggies, or try turkey and cheese roll-ups held together with fun, colorful toothpicks. If you’re packing the perfect lunch box for a loved one, include a little note with lunch to make them smile, or try a themed lunch box approach if you’re feeling extra adventurous!
6. Focus on Balance
I love making my way through lunch and finishing off the meal with a sweet treat (who’s with me?). That being said, I always make sure to get through the fruits, veggies and protein first. The truth is everyone is different. The most important thing to take away when thinking about your lunch is that it leave you feeling energized and satisfied throughout the day. Continue experimenting with and preparing healthy foods in different ways and lunchtime will never feel monotonous! And if you want to finish your lunch with a cookie, I say treat yourself.
I hope these steps help you get into a rhythm with your lunch packing, making it a natural and fun part of your daily routine. I’d love to hear your favorite foods to pack for lunch, so make sure to leave any ideas or recipes in the comments!