I have found that when it comes to taking your lunch to work, it’s all about finding the equipment that fits your needs. Does equipment sound too intense when referring to lunch boxes? Not to me! Think about it, this is something you do almost every day. It should be hassle-free. Lunch is also an important moment in your day when you get to take a break (and do one of my all-time favourite activities: eat). It should be enjoyable from start to finish. So here are my thoughts on five key factors to consider when bringing your lunch to work.
I’ve got a list of my favourite lunch items at the bottom of this post, so be sure to check it out!
Get Good Quality Containers
Find containers made from high quality, safe materials: I love a mason jar salad as much as the next millennial, but to be honest, eating out of a mason jar and toting one around is pure annoying. They’re cumbersome, noisy and they can break easily. Plus, how awkward is it to use a fork to eat out of a mason jar? I’m not going to mess up a bowl after shaking my salad, so it made lunchtime a little inconvenient. Frankly, even my other glass containers that I love for storing leftovers are terrible lunch-on-the-go companions. They’re noisy to tote around and quite heavy, too. Beyond glass, I also wouldn’t recommend reaching for the first cheap plastic container you see. Cheap plastic containers pick up odors and colors of foods easily and get scratched up and worn quickly. Plus, the plastic may not be BPA-free, aren’t necessarily safe to go into the microwave (say no to leeching) and these don’t always fare well in the dishwasher. When it comes to materials and construction, look for high quality materials that are dishwasher safe, and microwave safe, if that’s your jam. Further, you want something that won’t break or snap, something that is leak proof.
Stainless steel is great – it is incredibly durable, doesn’t retain color or odor, it’s lightweight and easy to carry. On the downside, it can’t be heated up and is not leak-proof. Silicone base containers are also great, light, flexible and extremely easy to clean; soap and water or right in the dishwasher. They also don’t pick up color or odor. Generally, they come with plastic snap lids. I like these because they are also collapsible, which makes storage very easy. There are also high-quality plastics, which are BPA-free. While they are still plastic, they’re built to be more durable and convenient and are purpose-built for lunches.
Look for Effective Design
Look for useful container designs: whether it’s a tiffin-style set up, multiple small containers, a bento box, or a sectioned container, the options are endless when it comes to selecting a lunch container set. I used to pack multiple leftovers in small glass containers because I don’t like slapping all the food in one large container. Plus, if I wanted to bring sauce or dressing, that needed its own container as well. I was toting around several large glass containers, which were clunky, loud, heavy and took up a lot of space in our small work fridge. Now, I have found a few amazing container designs where I can bring just as much food in, but in one container. I am loving these new designs. They make packing lunch more fun, and you can ensure you’re getting the best of your leftovers.
Pack Cute Cutlery
I don’t love, or even like, eating off plastic cutlery. First, it’s bad for the environment and second, trying to stab fresh lettuce with a limp fork or cut meat with a plastic knife is just depressing. The solution is to always bring cutlery with you, so that you are guaranteed to have what you need. Many containers made specifically for lunch packing come with a cutlery set, which can be very handy. I bring my own cutlery and I wrap it in a cute cloth napkin for transportation. That way, it transports easily to and from the office, I’ve brought a napkin with me as well (which I am very likely to need) and the whole lunch experience feels much classier. Lunch is a very important break in the work day, and using cloth napkins is one way to make it feel more special and fun. Plus, if I am out of the office, I don’t need to grovel at the closest coffee shop for plastic cutlery (which helps avoid hanger, too).
Use a Convenient Carrier
I tend to use a good old reusable bag for lunch because I have an abundance of them which are perfectly lunch-sized. They are also washable. However, I drive to work and it’s not too cumbersome for me to carry that along from the car to the office and my food goes right into our small fridge. If you commute and/or don’t have a fridge for your lunch, you may need a lunch bag with a little more swagger. Look for one which is easy to clean (duh!), meaning stains and spills can be quickly wiped up, an insulated lining lining which will help keep foods out of the danger zone for as long as possible (although an ice pack is recommended just to be safe), a spot for a drink container, and a good, stable clip or zipper to keep everything in place.
Cleaning is Crucial
Empty your lunch bag and clean your containers as soon as you get home: there’s nothing grosser than unpacking an unrefrigerated dirty lunch container that’s been hanging out for a few days, unattended, on the counter. Not to mention, no one likes opening the staff fridge at their office to see old, mouldy lunch containers. Seriously, don’t be that person who leaves them in there. When you get home give it a quick rinse and place, if safe, on the top rack of your dishwasher, or give a quick scrub with a soapy sponge and hot water. Rinse well and towel dry. With a clean set of containers you will be much more inclined to pack your lunch for the next day, and of course, cleanliness itself is important!
My Favourite Lunch To-Go Items
Sistema Salad To Go Food Storage Container (this is the one featured in the post)
Beeswax wrap – sustainable, reusable food storage wrap
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