At Togetherness Central, we certainly do not have all the answers about how to Together your lunch, but we do know it is constantly a topic in our class Zoom chat . . . sometimes people ask for help, sometimes they drop their make-ahead recipes and sometimes they share what they keep on hand for a back-up lunch. Having a Together lunch approach helps us eat in more healthy ways, make sure we pause to fuel our bodies, often save money and / or time – and quite simply is just one of those general markers of feeling on top of things . . . “yeah, I have a lunch, I have it TOGETHER!”
So, Together Team member Ana and I (who both admittedly love and look forward to lunch – though, who doesn’t!?) thought we would outline a few approaches for you to Together your own approach to lunch at work. We know lunch is not a one-size-fits-all, so we attempted to lay out a few options for you to consider based on your preferences, environment, and energy (just like how we approach To-Do lists and calendars!).
Good Old-Fashioned Weekly Meal Prep
Ana is clearly on Team Meal Prep, and she sets aside time each Sunday to make her beloved salad (pictured below), getting the portions all lined up for the week for both her and her husband. Between teaching classes with me all day (and sometimes we have very short turnarounds!), Ana saves time during her busy workday and savors her favorite salad!
We also heard from reader Carrie who says, I make this every Sunday for lunch for the week. I will add zucchini, kale, Hatch green chillis, taco seasoning, whatever I feel like. Maybe fire roasted tomatoes. I will throw in some Siete dip chips-crumbled- and some hot sauce. It gets me 4 lunches. On Friday, I eat Magic Spoon cereal with blueberries for lunch. It is my formula and it keeps me from ordering out or wondering what to make each day.”
Requirements for this method include: Willingness to take a larger chunk of time to prep, tolerance for eating the same thing daily, and enough containers to get you through the week. We keep hearing about these mason jar salad situations!
Building Blocks Approach
A spin-off of weekly meal prep for those of us who want to prepare ahead, but not eat the same thing daily, is a Building Blocks approach. This is where Maia falls. In her fridge (full of well-labeled items), you can usually find cooked grains (like rice, farro or quinoa), hard-boiled eggs, grilled chicken, and a lot of vegetables. Add in some dried fruit, nuts or cheeses, and it is a bit of a choose-your-own-adventure situation.
To pull off this method you need: time to batch process cooking (Maia usually does it while directing kids’ school lunch making in the early hours of the morning), and willingness to eat items that may not often “fit” together. This may be a better choice for folks who work from home or have time to pack lunch the night before or in the mornings, as being in your home kitchen allows for more spontaneous lunch creations.
The Desk Pantry Strategy
Several years back, I vividly recall someone at a Together Training just casually pulling out an apple corer during our class and then plucking out a purse size cutting board and a gorgeous looking apple! Of course, I had QUESTIONS. I sauntered over and learned that this principal brought in five apples on Mondays, as well as some frozen entrees to stick in the lounge freezer (labeled, of course!). This is a whole new riff on bringing lunch to work – bringing it for the entire WEEK. This takes: preparation time to source and bring the items to work, a place to store said items, and perhaps a place to prepare the food, if it is not ready to eat.
Of course, you are welcome to order in or go out to lunch (for those of you in offices) with colleagues. But most of us are not doing those things every single day. We offer these Together Lunch strategies in the hopes that it will encourage your, our readers, to EAT LUNCH! (Seriously, the number of people in our classes who talk about lunch being a bonus and not a consistent part of their day is really dismaying!) So, tell me. . . what is YOUR approach to lunch? Do you often follow the same approach or do you mix it up each week?