5 Simple Habits That Help Me Pack a Lunch I Actually Want to Eat

updated May 3, 2023
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(Image credit: Faith Durand)

So, you’re packing lunch to take to work with you. That’s great. But don’t pat yourself on the back just yet. That’s only half the battle. The bigger task at hand is bringing a lunch that you actually want to eat.

You need a lunch that you feel excited to dive into, even when your work buddies are picking up pizza or ordering dumplings and noodle bowls. It totally defeats the purpose of bringing lunch to work if you push it to the back of the fridge and buy food instead. You packed your lunch for a reason, probably a good one — so, make it something you want to eat. Here’s how I do it.

1. Pack something you actually want to eat.

This should go without saying. It seems so obvious. When you pack something you want to eat, better yet, that you’re excited to eat, you’re more likely to actually eat it. But it’s easier than it might seem to pack your lunch out of obligation, out of guilt.

Yes, your fridge might be full of greens and fresh veggies, but if the thought of salad for lunch (again) makes you cringe, or if you need something way more substantial to get you through the afternoon, it’s best to skip packing a salad.

2. Plan for success.

You know that saying, you plan to fail when you fail to plan? Well, it crosses my mind every time I forget to prep something for lunch, and find myself staring into the fridge in the morning wondering what I can make in five minutes. Spoiler alert — nine times out of 10, it results in a sad desk lunch.

Packing a decent lunch requires a little thought, and it’s best not left until the last minute.

3. Keep it simple.

While I want a good lunch, I also prefer something that requires as little effort as possible at mealtime. It’s easy for me to get wrapped up in work, so I prefer simple, non-messy lunch options I can unpack and eat at my desk.

4. Move beyond salads and sandwiches.

Salads and sandwiches are a fine lunch. There’s nothing wrong with them, but there’s nothing particularly exciting about them either. Expand your horizons and work some new options, like frittatas, grain bowls, or lentils, into your lunch rotation.

→ 15 Recipes to Reboot Your Lunch Routine

5. Take advantage of leftovers — but give them a makeover.

Taking leftovers for lunch doesn’t have to mean eating the same exact meal again. With a little thought and some creativity, it’s easy to work last night’s dinner into an entirely new meal. Shred leftover chicken to make chicken salad, add some rice, and turn those roasted veggies into a burrito.

7 Ways to Turn Leftovers into Lunch

What’s your best advice for packing a lunch you actually want to eat?

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