With back to school time upon us, I can’t help but feel the need to get stocked up and organized despite the fact that I am well past that phase of my life. Feeling like you have everything you need to tackle your work week is just as satisfying. Since I started working full time 11 years ago, I have always packed my lunch. It’s often times cheaper and healthier than many of the cafeteria and takeout options available. It’s sometimes hard to stick with it, especially when I’m traveling on the weekend, but having a few pantry staples on hand helps me transition from my jam packed weekends to the work week.
Canned Chickpeas or Black Beans
These are great for punching up a salad or veggie bowl. I often use black beans to make a taco salad with lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, and cheese. I add chickpeas to roasted sweet potatoes and kale for a filling veggie bowl.
Canned Tuna or Salmon
Canned tuna is great for whipping up a quick tuna salad sandwich, but it can also be used to make salad with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and a lemon and olive oil dressing. Canned salmon is a nice alternative that can be added to salad or paired with veggies and rice.
Leftover quinoa can easily be paired with veggies, herbs, and spices for a yummy veggie bowl.
Nuts and Dried Fruit
I often use nuts and dried fruit to make a fall inspired salad with apples, goat cheese, spinach, and a balsamic vinaigrette.
I add this Trader Joe’s veggie pasta to leftovers such as chicken or sausage and veggies to make a quick pasta dish. I either add marinara sauce or a light dressing to make it more like a pasta salad. You could even use the canned tuna or salmon instead of leftovers.
If you are going to really commit to packing your lunch, it’s essential that you bring condiments and salad dressing fixings into work. My go-to salad dressing is balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Instead of trying to pack this in my lunch box and making a mess, I keep these bottles at my desk.
One of the ways I supplement my lunch to feel full all day is snacking throughout the day. Here are just a few of the snacks I try to have hand:
- Hard boiled eggs (also good in salads)
- Bars (These Peanuts Go on a Date Bars from Trader Joe’s)
- Pretzels (can be paired with dips or cheeses)
- Market Panty fruit and nut mix from Target
- Granola (a good topping for Greek yogurt and fruit)
- Multigrain crackers (also can be paired with dips and cheeses)
- Teriyaki turkey jerky (from Trader Joe’s)
- Peanut butter (a good dipper for apple or carrot slices; I like the Better’n Peanut Butter brand)
- Belvita biscuits (breakfast biscuits that keep you full for four hours)