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Working in a busy downtown area in a city, there are so many options for lunch nearby. Thai fusion, Indian, a noodle bar, seafood, pizza, you name it. If I wanted, I could try a different place every day, no repeats, for weeks. But indulging comes with a price that’s both monetary and physical.
So I’m always looking for ways to make my work lunch exciting — that way I am not tempted to just pop over for whatever takeout sounds good that day.
What are you packing for the office today? Liven up your lunch for summer work days with these easy tips, tricks and ideas.
Tips for a Good Lunch for Summer Work Days
- Hit the Farmers Market – Fresh fruits and veggies make great snacks. Pick up berries, as they come into season.There’s also cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes and more. Pack 2-3 servings of fresh veggies to eat for snacks and with your lunch. Reusable containers are great for preparing the portions of these ahead of time — check your local dollar store for inexpensive ones. Nothing beats the flavor of produce grown close to home (and there’s something magical about knowing the farmer too).
- Portion, Portion, Portion – It’s super tempting to buy the little pre-portioned bags of nuts, seeds and dried fruits at the store. But it’s way better to pack your own. With a kitchen scale, small containers or baggies and bulk packages of nuts, seeds and/or dried fruit, it’s easy to prepare your own. Create your own mix (a few dark chocolate chips make it a nice treat!), or pack single-item portions. It’s super easy to do while you catch up on your favorite television shows. Then, just grab and go for lunch.
- Stay Hydrated – Don’t forget the water bottle! You always need to stay hydrated, and on hot summer days it’s doubly important to ensure you do so. But don’t be boring about it: give your water some pizzazz by adding slices of lemon or lime, muddled berries, slices of cucumbers or even fresh mint to it. You can also make fruit-filled ice cubes that will flavor your water as they melt.
- Keep it Interesting – It’s tempting to pack the same thing for the main portion of your lunch for summer day after day. A head of lettuce can make salads all week and a pack of freshly made wraps mean wraps for days, but don’t fall into the trap of monotonous lunches (which is sure to make that takeout more tempting). Instead, change up your lunch routine with a variety of foods, switching it up with different flavors and options.
A New Option for Packing Lunch
One way to keep it interesting is with a variety of flavorful frozen meals that you can heat up in your office microwave. Lean Cuisine has recently released four new limited time meals with international flair that are perfect for lunches.
The new (temporary) varieties are pretty awesome: LEAN CUISINE® MARKETPLACE Cheese & Fire-Roasted Chile Tamale, LEAN CUISINE® MARKETPLACE Thai – Style Ginger Beef, LEAN CUISINE® MARKETPLACE Chicken Tikka Masala and LEAN CUISINE® MARKETPLACE Southwest – Style Potato Bake. They all feature exciting, contemporary flavors that will help you avoid menu fatigue — I mean how can you go wrong with tamales, tikka masala and Thai-style anything?
I recently picked up the new flavors at Walmart, and was so excited to try them.
They didn’t disappoint.
As an addition to their tasty collection of other entrees, these flavors are perfect for adventurous eaters who want big flavor, no-GMOs, organic ingredient options, gluten-free options and protein-packed options for lunch time. I love the variety of entrees available, and how they can liven up my lunchtime.
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. She is the author of several cookbooks including The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook and One-Pot Pasta, both from Rockridge Press. A single mother to two kids in middle school, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.