One of the easiest places to fall off of your Free to Eat wagon is at work. It’s outside of your home (where you have surrounded yourself with good food options), you’re there at least 5 times a week, and you may not have many good food options available to you. Add stress to this mix (#comfort food), and things have the potential to get ugly.
Solution: Pack a lunch
While you should feel free to eat out (#nofoodguilt), packing a Paleo-friendly lunch to take to work with you is a great way to maintain energy levels throughout the afternoon (without the post-lunch carb crash) and to stay on track to meet your fitness goals. I’ve been packing lunches every day for over 8 months now, and while I still have a lot to learn in the kitchen, here are a couple of useful tricks I’ve picked up along the way.
Tips and Tricks
1. Cook as much as you can the night/weekend before.
There are lots of things (such as sweet-potato fries and chicken) that you can cook in a large batch and pack away in the fridge to use throughout the week. Cooking the night before for the next day or even over the weekend for the entire week will save you a lot of time and trouble in the morning when you are trying to get ready. Feeling stressed about your food first thing in the morning is a great way to start HATING your attempted lifestyle change. Make things as easy on yourself as possible by preparing in advance. (If you’re feeling really adventurous, how about cooking everything a month in advance?)
2. Leftovers are a life-saver.
When cooking breakfast/dinner for yourself or the family, make a TON, and then pack the extra away to use for lunches. I’ve packed curry, sweet-potato/pumpkin souffle, ground-beef stir-fry, etc, and the next day they were just as good. (This is where having a microwave available to you is absolutely clutch.)
3. Avoid potentially “soggy” foods.
Some items simply don’t work as well a second time around, either cold or reheated. I learned the hard way to avoid foods that tend to get “soggy”, especially if you DON’T have a microwave at hand. This includes anything that has oil on it or any kind of liquid that can drain. If your food is soggy and cold, chances are you’re not going to enjoy it. (I know I’ve choked down a couple of slimy meals that still haunt me.) Stick to foods and cooking methods that keep well – such as apple slices, steamed veggies, grilled chicken, non-oil sweet potato-fries, etc.. If you decide to pack a salad, keep the dressing separate until lunch-time.
4. Let things cool before sticking them in Tupperware/the fridge.
This one might be too obvious, but I made this mistake my first couple of times around. If you lock hot items away in Tupperware on in the fridge, condensation will form on the inside and they will get soggy, even if they are a soggy-safe food such as grilled chicken.
5. Save the variety for breakfast/dinner.
We all want to have as much variety in our meals as possible, but if you find some foods that work for you, don’t be afraid to come back to them again and again. Both Valerie and I tend to pack grilled chicken for lunch, so for our other meals we try to use other meats (like shrimp, ground beef, pork-chops, steak, fish, eggs, etc.) Save the experimentation for dinner when you have more time. If you come up with something good, pack away the leftovers for lunch the next day (#tip2)!
So those are my 5 tips for the day. How about you? How do you eat healthy at work? What are your thoughts on packed lunches? What are some of your favorite foods to take to work with you?
Thanks, and stay healthy everybody.