I am a lunch packer. I just can’t get behind spending a bunch of money on fast food lunches every day. I try to pack healthy and interesting options that prevent me from being tempted by the food court offerings that are available near my workplace. One of the tricks that I have found with packing lunches is that they have to be good. If all your coworkers are digging into chicken balls with gooey red sauce or burritos that are as big as your head, a PB and J sandwich probably isn’t going to cut it. I get it, lunch packing sucks. It takes time to think about what you want to eat, go shopping and then to actually make the food. However, at the end of the work week you can save a ton of money and have more control over the nutrition content of your food if you put the effort in.
For me lunches need to be interesting, delicious, cost effective and healthy. I plan my lunches, write a grocery list, and go shopping on the weekend. Sundays I make lunches for Monday through Wednesday. Then on Wednesday I make Thursday and Friday’s food. When I am planning things out I think of two snacks (morning and afternoon just like grade school), a main course and a (healthy) dessert. I also make sure that I have some extra healthy snacks in my desk just in case I get the munchies. Usually my two snacks are fruit, I pick based off of what is on sale that week. My main course varies greatly depending on what is on sale, how much time I have to cook, the weather, and if I have a cool blog idea. This time of year I rely heavily on different salads, during the winter I often make soups and stews.
Salads are a great lunch option. They are easily varied, can be made in bulk, and are healthy and interesting. I try to switch up the greens, the dressing and the protein every week. I will add different toppers depending on what fits the salads. The possibilities are endless. Grains can even be added to help make the salads more satisfying.
The recipes below is one of my standard lunches. I will make this when I don’t have any other fantastic ideas in my head. Sometimes I’ll throw in a handful of quinoa if I have some on hand. Olives are also a yummy addition if you have some in your fridge. On occasion I’ll switch out the chickpeas for grilled chicken or canned tuna. Both of these options are a bit pricier so I have kept things basic here. Feel free to switch out the spinach for mixed greens or baby kale, I do all the time. A note on oils, olive oil will go solid when stored in the fridge. If you want to skip the canola oil and use all olive oil let your dressing sit at room temperature for a little while before you use it.
Greek Inspired Lunchtime Salad
Makes 4 meal sized salads
$4.17 a Salad
1 Can Chickpeas, Rinsed and Drained
4-8 TBSP Crumbled Feta
8 Cups Baby Spinach, Washed and Dried
1 Bell Pepper, Washed and Diced
20 Grape Tomatoes
1 Cucumber, Washed and Diced
.25 Cup Canola Oil
.125 Cup Olive Oil
.167 Cup Lemon Juice
.5 TSP Salt
1 TBSP Chopped Garlic
1 TBSP Dried Oregano
To make the salad all you really need to do is divide the ingredients among four containers. However, if you are not eating the salad immediately there is a trick to this. Put the feta in first, then add the chickpeas, top that with the spinach and then add everything else on top of that. The feta is wet so you want a barrier between it and the spinach. The chickpeas go on the bottom because they are heavy. Seal your containers and store in the fridge until it’s time to eat.
Measuring everything into a container with a tight seal.
Shake it like crazy. The dressing should be emulsified and cloudy when you are done shaking.
Divide the dressing into four little containers. You don’t want to mix it in with the salad until you are ready to eat.
Shake the container before adding the dressing to your salad.
Add the dressing to your salad. Reseal the container and give it a good shake to coat everything in the dressing.