I am NOT a morning person. Which doesn’t really mesh well with the whole teacher gig. So, I work really hard to make my mornings as easy as possible for myself. If I wake up around 9, I can be showered and out the door by 9:45. If I wake up at 5:30, I’m lucky to be out the door by 7.
So, about 3 years into teaching and waking up way before the crack of dawn, I decided I needed to stop attempting to throw a lunch together in the morning. I started planning a bit in advance and now spend about 20-30 minutes on Sunday prepping lunches for the week, which literally makes it a “grab-and-go.” Oh, and they are healthy AND delicious! Win!
All you need to get started are these Ziploc (or any brand) plastic containers (with 3 sections):
These are surprisingly durable and last a long time. And they do not leak! (As long as you make sure to press the seal down tightly and they aren’t too old, sometimes they warp slightly after a while.) I put them in my bag on their sides every day and have never had a problem! I do hand wash them, so that probably helps. We bought enough so we have one for each day of the week, that way we don’t have to make more lunches mid-week.
- Broccoli, Cauliflower, Carrot mix (or whatever your veggies of preference are)
- Cherry tomatoes
- Lunch meat of choice
- Fruit (we typically go with grapes or oranges, something that will last the week without browning or going bad).
- Optional: hard boiled eggs
The key to simplicity is to buy the bag of pre-cut broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. We used to chop stuff ourselves but when we found this bag at Sam’s Club for about $6, it was just as expensive and PRE-CUT! Whew.
We lay out our 10 lunch containers and start throwing stuff in!
We put the main salad in the large part – I put the lunch meat in the smaller section and then the fruit in the larger section. My hubs does the opposite because he wants more protein. We used to add hard-boiled eggs (with the shell on, peel them when you are ready to eat) but found we didn’t have time to eat them during our 20 minutes of *sometimes* uninterrupted lunch and we weren’t really that hungry after eating everything else. We also used to use cherry tomatoes but they got super expensive so we decided to just load up on everything else. But obviously, you can use any veggies here.
Finally, once they are all stuffed to the brim with food, we add a small fork. These cheap-o forks are from Sam’s Club as well. Yes, we bought 800 of them because they fit so nicely into our containers:
Slap the lids on them, and voila! Lunches are made for the week. The hard part, is now finding room in the fridge. We save one crisper drawer for some and then manage to squeeze the rest elsewhere.
So, in the morning, I grab my lunch, put dressing on, and go. If you work somewhere with a fridge, keep dressing there and you can skip that step as well!
I cannot tell you how much this process has made my life easier! No more complaining about lunches in the morning! No more grabbing a granola bar or PB&J to hope it lasts me through the day. These are healthy, filling, and delicious!
The total cost to make 10 lunches is:
- Spinach = $5
- Veggie mix = $6
- Lunch meat = $12
- Fruit = $4-6
- Total = $29 /2 people / 5 days a week = $2.90/lunch. Throw dressing in there and make it an even $3.00. Worth it.
- *We buy all of our produce at Sam’s Club. You may be able to find it cheaper (well, not buy as MUCH anyway) but it’s just easier for us. Then we use the extra spinach and veggies as sides with our dinner during the week.
I dare you to try it for a week, you’ll be hooked. And when you get tired of salad, there are a ton of other things you can try. Sometimes we do stuffed pitas, chicken salad, or just regular sandwiches.
If you try it, let me know what you think! (And don’t be too jealous of my amazing green counters. )