Friday, April 19, 2013

workplace lunch pro-tips

I think I've nailed down the secrets to making the most out of your work lunch time. It's been a painstaking process, but I believe I've narrowed it down to five important tips:

1.    Take your lunch no earlier than 4 hours before your shift ends.
If you can take your lunch whenever you want during your shift, this is the way to do it. I work your standard 8-5 with a one hour lunch. I do my best to take my lunch at or after 1:00. Why you ask? Because when you get done with lunch you have, at most, three more hours of work to do. It makes the afternoon FLY by and it's amazing. I didn't take my lunch yesterday until 2:30, and 5:00 came like the speed of light. It was awesome.

2.    Bring your lunch from home.
Bringing your lunch from home may sound boring and awful, but doing so can save you a ton of money. If you go out for lunch every day, you're spending on average, what, $5-$8 per meal? You can make yourself a huge salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, mushrooms, and grilled chicken for like $1.50/day. On top of the monetary savings, you're likely to be eating a lot healthier as well. If you're already in the habit of cooking every night, you can also go ahead and make extra for leftovers to take with you the next day (given that you're not making macaroni and cheese every night). If you don't want to take the time to prepare and pack your lunch every morning or night before, you can make five of something on Sunday and refrigerate or freeze portions to take with you the rest of the week. Maybe make a big batch of spaghetti and meat sauce and freeze it in some tupperware. It'll take a little longer to heat up in the microwave, but it'll taste better than a lean cuisine.

3.    Bring your own dishes to keep at work.
If you have desk drawers to yourself, this is an awesome idea. I, for one, don't like heating things up in tupperware if I can avoid it. And there's never enough room in anything to successfully eat a salad out of it. And what happens when you bring soup in a can and the office kitchen is out of paper bowls?! Because of this, I keep a plate, a bowl, a fork, a spoon, and a knife at work at all times. You're saving paper and plastic and you're guaranteed never to be lacking dishes. Just remember to wash them after you use them. Nothing like day-old ranch dressing stuck to your plate making your office smell awful.

4.    Avoid "that 2:30 feeling".
The post-lunch food coma usually results from overeating, especially when you're gorging on simple carbs and sugars, when your blood sugar crashes an hour after your meal. You can avoid this, again, by bringing your own lunch. Salads are healthy and filling - just make sure that you have a protein source in there to keep yourself going throughout the day. I like to grill up some chicken on the weekends and slice it up for weekday salads. You can also use garbanzo beans or hard boiled eggs for great protein sources as well. Again, if you're not big on salads, make sure the meals you're bringing use whole grain pastas and breads, lean meats, beans, and nuts, and as many fruits and vegetables as your heart desires. Avoid overly processed and refined foods that will bring on the crash. If you find yourself needing a snack before or after lunch, turn to those fresh fruits and vegetables or nuts. Pistachios and grapes make awesome desk food.

5. Portion control, or how to make sure your lunch actually fits in a lunch box.
I've grown to know and love my bento box (and their companion bento buddies) for effective portioning and storing of my lunch goodies. They help you keep portions small and realistic and also provide effective containment of fragile berries and salty nuts. The boxes can be purchased with matching bags, but I generally just throw mine in one of the four lunchboxes I already own along with a couple of diet cokes, because that's how I roll. Doing this has given me variety in my lunching. I can pack some leftovers in a medium sized lidded container, a ton of grapes in another, some pistachios in a small lidded container, and still have space in the box for a couple of clementines. And the itty bitty mini lidded containers are perfect for salad dressing!

Alright kids. Go out into the world and make yourselves some good lunches for next week!

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