As a homeschooling mother, I rarely have to pack a lunch for my kids, but I do have to pack a lunch for my husband. Packing tasty, husband-pleasing lunches seems just as difficult as packing kid-pleasing lunches. We finally hit upon a system that seems to work, so I thought I’d share it with all of you. Whether you’re packing your own lunch for the office, a lunch for your kids, or a lunch for your spouse, the same principles can be used to make sure you serve a filling, nutrient-dense meal.
So, here’s my system for creating grain-free lunches.
As with most kitchen endeavors, it begins with prep work.
The key to making easy lunches is to do most of the hard work earlier in the week.
1) Always have ready-to-grab veggies and fruits available. My Farmer’s Market meets on Thursday afternoons, and I come home with bags full of vegetables & fruits. Before I put them away, I prep every last bit of them that will keep for at least a week. Everything gets washed before going into the refrigerator, and any vegetable that can handle it also gets peeled, sliced, and diced and set into the fridge in its own container. Vegetables that don’t hold up well to refrigeration (like tomatoes) are simply washed and kept in a large screened fruit basked on my counter. This process takes me about thirty minutes to an hour and eliminates at least 15 minutes a day of prep work. I start my week armed with pre-cut carrot sticks, diced bell peppers, chopped onions & garlic, chopped greens, and sliced summer squash.
2) Always have at least three homemade dips and dressings on hand. The three most popular in my house are a Tzatziki sauce (yogurt, cucumber, olive oil, and dill), Tahini dressing (tahini, olive oil, tamari, ginger, and lemon), and Herbed Sour Cream (sour cream, mayo, garlic, onion, dill, and parsley).
3) Boil at least a dozen eggs for the week. We keep them in their own specially-marked container so we don’t accidentally confuse them with our raw eggs. These make convenient snacks and quickly convert into egg salad.
4) Grate your cheese for the week. We always buy our hard cheese in large blocks, then slice or grate according to need. Having grated cheese on hand is naturally convenient for topping salads or stirring into a roux for a quick homemade cheese sauce.
5) Make a big batch of seasoned ground beef for the week. Our favorite is ground beef with homemade taco seasoning, but we also enjoy an Italian-herb variety every now and then.
6) Keep meaty left-overs separate. When putting away your leftovers from dinner, put the leftover meats in a separate container from your veggies or other sides. That way you’ve got easy access to these quick salad toppers.
The next step is a simple, stream-lined assembly.
Now that you’ve got all these foods in convenient, ready-to-eat states, making lunch is as simple as assembling a daily tiffin full of food. (Here’s the tiffin we use, pictured at right.)
In the morning, I layer the lower tin with salad greens and veggies. The top tin holds whatever protein we’ve got ready. I prefer to use the previous night’s leftovers. If there are no leftovers, I use the pre-cooked taco meat. Sometimes I mash up some eggs with bacon grease, mayo, salt & pepper for a quick egg salad, or I stir some homemade mayo and pickle relish into tuna for a quick tuna salad. The top tin also holds the little sidekick container with whatever dressing or sauce goes best with the protein.
I also pack a snack of either hard-boiled eggs, sliced braunsweiger, or sliced cheese, nuts, and whole fruits.
As a finishing touch, I pour re-heated leftover homemade soup made with bone broth into a small thermos (we use this one, pictured at right). Our favorites are Tomato Basil Soup, Clam Chowder with Bacon & Green Chiles, French Onion Soup, Egg Drop Soup, and Tom Kha Gai.
Tah Dah! Say hello to easy, grain-free lunches.
So, what system works for you? How do you streamline your lunch on-the-go?
(photo by mittenmachen)