Make-Ahead Office Lunch: Five Days, Five Ways
Layer in Flavor
A homemade lunch is an obvious health- and money-saver, and as creative culinarians, we ought to be leading the charge toward wholesome bagged lunches. But we, too, often need a few hours to hit our stride -- and the only thing less appealing than fixing lunch in the morning is eating the same leftovers five days in a row.
A quick note: This guide is flexible. Pantry proteins like canned tuna and chickpeas can be stashed in your desk indefinitely; nuts should be stored in an airtight container and eaten in a few weeks or stored in the freezer; and semihard cheeses like cheddar, Swiss, Jack, or feta will keep a couple of weeks in your office fridge.
Monday: Green Your Consumption
Come Monday, we’re ready to feast on the type of responsible food we’ve neglected all weekend. Bring a big bag of salad greens, and toss a few handfuls with your veggies (stash the rest in an airtight container for later). The oil and salt from roasting should add moisture and flavor, making dressing obsolete -- but if you’d like a drizzle of something, we’ve got a few ideas. You can also dress things up with the aforementioned nuts and cheese.
Tuesday: Bowl Us Over
Ready to ease yourself back onto carbs? High-fiber whole grains will keep your belly full and your mind on the grind. Toss last night’s side of brown rice, barley, or quinoa with your vegetables -- add a handful of nuts and a drizzle of yesterday’s dressing if you so choose.
Wednesday: Make It Mexican
Just a spoonful of salsa helps the vegetables go down. Spice up the dreaded hump day with a taco-inspired twist -- salsa acts as a low-cal, high-flavor dressing, while tortilla chips add just enough salt and crunch to keep your spirits high. (We know we said one item per day, but come on -- these two are a package deal.)
Thursday: Flatten the Bottom Line
Time to throw some flatbread into the mix, be it naan, tortilla, or pita. As your arsenal grows, your lunch becomes more customizable: Re-create Tuesday’s grain bowl as a hippie-style filling, microwave a quick quesadilla, or -- if you’re lucky enough to have a toaster oven -- load up tostada-style and go to town. You've even got salsa to top it off!
Friday: Mezze It Up
Friday’s an open catch-all for your leftover odds and ends. Tote along hummus or sauce to make flatbread pizzas (assuming you've access to cheese and heat), or BYO bread to load up a kitchen-sink sandwich. We won't judge if you use the money you’ve saved to take yourself out to lunch instead. Four out of five days is pretty darn good.