It’s 11:00 and you’re already starving. Lunch is a must, but so is this pile of work that needs to be turned around. Decision time.
Option 1: Leave the office in search of a healthy lunch and hope the afternoon runs smoothly so no one misses that 40 minutes of production.
Option 2: Stay at your desk, keep cranking away and hope that your brain stays engaged without nutrition.
There’s a 3rd option here, but for most of us it’s as elusive as a unicorn.
Option 3: Grab your pre-packed lunch and munch away, guilt free.
The problem is rarely that we don’t WANT to pack a lunch. It’s typically that we don’t have time or resources available to get the job done.
We can run companies, design national marketing campaigns, deal with employee issues, but we stand at the open fridge each morning and we are baffled.
What do people eat?!
Left over’s would be a nice option if we’d had time to cook last night, but no, that didn’t happen. Or maybe a tasty salad. Nope! The lettuce is soggy. Internally, we know it shouldn’t be this hard. Your brain power shouldn’t be used on this simple task.
Solve the lunch mystery by using these 3 easy steps:
- Plan ahead
- Keep it simple
- Make it mobile
Fix #1: Plan Ahead
Honestly, you’re still going to have to hit the grocery store.
That’s the plan ahead part.
Grab things that can get you through until next weekend when you can find the time to go again. Plan a 45 minute window to shop that you can use every week without fail.
Make your list Friday night and go early Saturday morning. No one’s got time for this to be a mental drain on the weekend. Bite the bullet and get it done. You’ll miss the crowds, hit the stocked produce and mark it off your list so you don’t have to dread it all weekend.
I used to go at 5:30 a.m. every Saturday. I could check out without waiting in line, unload from the car and get everything put away before my first sleepy eyed kid rolled into the kitchen looking for breakfast.
No matter what, don’t leave this step for Sunday night. You’ll dread it all weekend, and may I dare say, you’ll probably be a grouch just because of it.
When shopping, have a list and stick to it. Making choices in the store kills your time and will tempt you to skip steps.
Time Saving Shortcut
If you live in an area that allows you to shop online and pick up curb side, take advantage. Kroger, Walmart, and Sam’s are several stores that offer this service. Most stores will save your shopping list so you can repeat your order and all you need to do is schedule the pick up time.
Just because we’re talking lunch don’t think sandwiches. Skip the bread, think wraps and containers instead.
If we’re being honest, there’s really no nutritional value in bread, whole grain or not. A healthy lunch will consist of protein, fiber, complex carb and healthy fat.
Want to start now? Here’s your shopping list for success: Download Shopping List
Fix #2: Keep it Simple
Don’t make food prep complicated. Keep it simple.
You should be able to spend one chunk of time in the kitchen and get 90% of your week covered.
Throw an entire bag of still frozen chicken in a crock pot with a versatile marinade and cook it on low overnight or all day. I like McCormick Zesty Italian because it goes with tons of recipes. When it’s done, shred it up and divide into individual portions. Zip lock bags work well for this if you want to eliminate dishes.
While the chicken is going, make a large portion of your grain, you’ll use it several times this week. Boil some eggs, they make for great sides and quick snacks. Finally, get those fruits and veggies prepped if you didn’t buy the already chopped variety.
Plan this prep time into your week. At first, you’ll feel like you’re loosing a valuable part of your weekend.
Trust me, you’re not. You’re buying back hours for future use. This step will save you a minimum an hour each day and eliminate the mental drain toward the end of the week that will temp you to make inferior choices.
Fix #3: Make it Mobile
Realistically, you could be eating in the car, at your desk or in a conference room, so pack accordingly.
Check your calendar for the week to know when you’ll be in the office or out of town. It’s more difficult to slurp soup in the car than at a conference table.
Plans tend to change so don’t plan to eat the same thing every day this week.
Start the week with 3 solid options and the ingredients to repeat 2.
Monday: Wraps are a great way to eat on the go. One dirty dish to rinse. Not bad. Add a few sprinkles of salt or Cajun seasoning or a squeeze of lemon to switch up the flavor.
Tuesday: Buddha bowls are just as easy. The flavors will marinade together until lunch and it can be packed in a lidded container the night before. Eat this straight from the office fridge or warm it up on a chilly day. No extra dishes for this one.
Wednesday: Salads. Update your mental image to include more than lettuce. Add a few grains in there along with chopped veggies and meat so you feel full longer. Quick tip, buy a salad storage container to keep all your ingredients fresh. You can pre-fill it with everything on Sunday and it’ll still be good to go on Wednesday.
You’re mid day fuel really can be this easy. Make the choice. Take control of your lunch time routine and the mystery out of the morning.
What’s your go-to work lunch? Comment to share recipes and ideas with the community.