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Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Portable, aka work, lunches

As promised in my last post, here are some tips! There are lots of options; you’re only limited by your imagination and the effort you put in. 

Leftovers (obvious ain't it?)
For me, this is the obvious choice – take leftovers from dinner the night before... assuming there are any leftovers! Get yourself some really good quality microwavable containers in various sizes. My preference is Tupperware, but get whatever you prefer - plastic takeaway containers are not a good option though, trust me! Some quality containers even have a divider in them, so your curry doesn’t touch your rice. Better yet, if you’ve got lots of leftovers, freeze them in individual portions so that you can grab one and go. Lifesaver when you’re running late!

Tips for leftovers:
  • Curries, stews, pasta dishes and some stir-fry’s are the best options, as they are easiest to reheat. Anything with a lot of moisture (or sauce) should reheat evenly.
  • If you’re reheating frozen food, try to defrost the night before for the best results.
  • Potatoes generally don’t freeze too well, so leave these out if you need to pop food in the freezer.
  • When reheating something that’s in one piece, like a wedge of lasagne, try cutting it into four smaller pieces first. This should (hopefully) give you four hot pieces, instead of one slab with an icy center – yuck!
  • Don’t like your rice soaking up sauce while it’s sitting in a container? Put your saucy meal on the bottom of the container and the rice on top. Once it’s warmed up, you can turn it out into a bowl – yum!
  • Frozen rice will reheat in about a minute on high!
  • Take precautions with microwaves as they all vary. Food might be searing hot on the outside but still frozen in the middle.
  • DON’T put foil in the microwave – it can explode.

Sandwiches / Wraps 

Sandwiches and wraps are another popular option for a workday lunch. The combinations of fillings are endless! 

Tips for sandwiches /wraps:

  • If you have a fridge at work, why not keep some staple ingredients to save transportation? Lots of office workers are near some sort of supermarket these days, so you could keep sundried tomatoes, cheese, spreads, etc in the fridge ready for when you need it. You might even purchase some items to share with another co-worker!
  • Hate soggy sandwiches? Lay your sliced tomato on absorbent paper towel for a minute. No more soggy bread!
  • Wraps store for about 12 months in the freezer and only take a few seconds to defrost.
  • Bread also freezes really well and lots of offices have toasters, so you could whip up a warm lunch in less time then it takes to go downstairs.
  • If it’s easier to bring in a fresh sandwich each day, Tupperware have some fantastic Sandwich Keeper boxes that will keep your sandwiches fresh for 24 hours! I use these all the time and swear by them. Definitely a case of “you get what you pay for!” (I don't sell them, I promise)


Salads are a great option in summer and are easy to throw together the night before, or with a bit of prep in the morning. If you’re going to eat salads for most of the week, why not do some prep on the weekend to make your mornings easier?

Tips for salads:
  • Slice up carrots, capsicum, cucumbers and store in airtight containers in the fridge.
  • Grab a big bag of mixed lettuce leaves or baby spinach from your local supermarket.
  • Rice salads can be made in advance and will stay good for 3 days. Add small amounts of different proteins, like grilled chicken or canned tuna, each day to make it different from the last.
  • Cherry tomatoes, button mushrooms and croutons will stay fresh for about a week and will jazz up any salad.
  • Can’t stand ‘rabbit food’? Bacon pieces and chunks of roasted potatoes will keep even the keenest carnivore satisfied.
  • Keep a bottle of two of pre-made dressings in your desk drawer or fridge. But be careful if you’re watching your weight as commercial dressing can be loaded with extra fat and sugar.
When I’m in a super rush, I’ll grab the following: 1 small can each of 4 bean mix, corn and tuna. When it's time to eat, I drain the cans, throw together into a bowl with a splash of vinegar and mix. Quick, healthy, cheap and delicious!

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