I bring lunch to work every day. This is mainly because I am way too lazy to actually leave my building to drive somewhere to get food (thank goodness there are no food sources IN my building, or I’d probably lose my ‘willpower’ like that!).
There are other reasons, of course – it saves money, and I’ve been on this kick of trying to eat real food and more recently, not consuming meat that doesn’t have a source I know and trust. It’s pretty limiting – but in a good way!
Thus, my brown bags (reusable handle bags, really) and the ever constant question of how will I fill them up. Some things are standard. I keep a tub of yogurt in the fridge at work for a morning snack that I top with organic local honey and crispy walnuts. Larabars used to be a fixture until my grocery store recently raised the price of a box by $2 (!) so now it’s generally a piece of fruit (I cannot get by without snacking at work – especially in the morning. I don’t know how people who don’t survive until lunch!).
Breakfast is almost always eggs – fried, scrambled, boiled. Sometimes I’ll do cheese and fruit, or if I’m being terrible I’ll go through the Tim’s drive through on the way to work, but that’s usually an act of desperation (breakfast – again, something I cannot survive without).
So that leaves lunches, which, if I’m not careful, can get real boring, real fast. And I don’t like that, so I’ve devised multiple ways to avoid the 5 sandwiches a week trap - creative cooking to provide tasty leftovers, actually making things on the weekend specially for lunches (this stuffed chicken was my pièce de résistance)… but then there are the days I haven’t thought very far ahead and need to make something in the morning – fast. I keep ingredients for the following 3 ‘recipes’ in my kitchen and know that I’ll always have something on hand when I’m in a rush that actually tastes good and keeps me going through the afternoon.
Note: The following recipes do use a microwave, which I normally am not a big fan of recommending – but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. And I justify myself by not having a microwave at home. And no, I do not judge you if you have a microwave. And yes, you could potentially be awesome with a thermos and avoid a microwave altogether with the following if you were way awesomer than I am. OK that was a long note. Anyway…
Here is my 3 Lunches for 5 Days in 10 Minutes or Less Meal Plan.
- 2 Flattened Chicken Breasts (buy them that way or pound them down to flatten yourself)
- Selection of Spices – I like salt, pepper, cumin, onion powder and garlic powder. Sometimes I’ll mix it up with some turmeric or curry, or go a different route with thyme, rosemary and sage
If you are smart, you will cook these the night before. If you are like me, it can still be done in the morning. Turn on the broiler or start heating butter in a skillet as soon as you have a moment. Slap the spices on the chicken, cook for 4-5 minutes on each side, throw into two glass storage containers (if you have a few minutes longer stick the one you are taking with you today in the freezer so it doesn’t heat up your lunch bag too much; if you don’t, it’s not really that big of a deal ).
And that’s it. You can add veggies, cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, pickles – whatever you might have on hand for sides – and it’s even good cold if you don’t feel like warming it at work. The best part is that since you made 2, you can save one for tomorrow and you get an extra 10 minutes in the morning to play around on Facebook!
Black Beans ‘n Spices
- 1 can Eden Organic Black Beans
- A selection of Spices – Ground Cumin, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Oregano, Cayenne, Chili Powder, Salt & Pepper
- Small handful of shredded Cheese
- 1 ripe Avocado
- Small container Sour Cream (optional) – I usually put it in those little baby food freezer cubes
- A few handfuls of organic Corn Tortilla Chips (optional)
- Tabasco Sauce
Drain the beans and dump them into a bowl. Add spices according to taste. Stir. Divide into 2 portions in glass storage containers. Shred a bit of cheese and use it to top each portion. Leave one at home in the fridge; take one with you. Slice avocado in half; leave one half at home, take one with you. Just before eating, microwave for 1-2 minutes, stirring halfway through. While beans are heating, cut avocado into cubes; stir into beans when they are ready. Optional – top with sour cream and Tabasco sauce and scoop up with chips. Otherwise just eat with a fork – it’s just as good!
Woot! Another 10 minutes tomorrow to play on Facebook! Or sleep in, as you will…
- 1 medium sized baking potato (do not bring a giant one – it will take forever to cook)
- Topping selection of choice – I like Sour Cream, homemade Butter and leftover Bacon. Other possibilities are Chives, Hummus, grated Cheese, leftover Ground Beef – the possibilities are endless.
Toss your potato and selected toppings in your lunch bag in the morning (again, those little baby food freezer cubes are great for this sort of thing). This is the fastest AM one yet – perfect for a day when you’re really running short on time. At lunch time, stab the potato with a fork several times and microwave for 5-7 minutes. Top and eat. Depending on your array of toppings and how filling they are, you may or may not want to have a side – I like cheese and/or pickles because they’re so fast and easy to grab from the fridge in the morning.
And that’s it!
These meals have become staples for me because within their frameworks, there is still a lot of room for variety and good flavour, and I have tried and tested the timing on multiple mornings and never been late to work once – they really are so super fast and easy.
If you’re brown bagging it (or making lunches for someone else), consider these options the next time you’re in a hurry.
What are your favourite fast, easy on the go lunches? I am always looking for new ideas!