We’ve all been in the dreaded situation before. It’s lunchtime and your colleague eagerly heads to the microwave, ready to heat up his leftovers of . . . fish and broccoli. While he may derive all the pleasure from eating a meal that’s tasty and healthy, surrounding colleagues will offer death stares (at the least) for the unpleasant smells that will inevitably linger on for the rest of the day.
Hence the dilemma of sharing a space with other people: you want to pack a healthy and tasty lunch, but you don’t want to offend anyone with unpleasant odors. What should you bring?
We have some easy and simple ideas that not only take little time to prepare but are a joy to eat! There’s one for every day of the week – and enough variety so you won’t get sick of your lunch box – best of all, there will be no lingering smells. (Sorry, hard boiled eggs and hearty soups will have to make an appearance on another list!)
Spinach salad with beef and avocado – packed in a mason jar
A mason jar will keep the leaves fresh and green while offering the most convenient way to combine everything in one container (yet keep the important ingredients separate).
Layer the mason jar for a pretty and effective affect. You’ll want to ladle your salad dressing in first. Next, stir fry the main proteins, whether it’s eggplant or beef, and layer on top of the dressing. The main proteins will soak up all the yummy dressing, marinating overnight.
Next, pack the salad leaves on top. Use a heartier green, such as spinach or kale, for full healthy effects! Last, sprinkle on top add any toppings you’d like: avocados, croûtons or cranberries for a colorful and complete salad.
Snap peas with chicken – rice optional
Snap peas are fast and easy to cook and can be catered to individual taste. Some might prefer snap peas to have that crunch factor (hence the name) while others prefer a soggier consistency. In any case, this recipe takes only 20 minutes to prepare.
Purchase chicken breast and cut into thin slices. Marinate in cornstarch, soy sauce and olive oil. Let it soak in the sauce for about 10 minutes. Then heat all ingredients in a wok until the chicken browns, around 10 minutes or so. Once the chicken is cooked, toss in the snap peas, adding by eye more sesame oil, soy sauce, pepper and sugar. Stir fry for 1-2 minutes on high heat.
This dish can be accompanied by rice, if you have any leftover and want a carb.
Soba noodles with tofu – served cold
Prepare the soba noodles according to the instructions and set aside. For the tofu, it’s easiest to buy extra-firm tofu and then cut it up into thin strips. In a separate pan, heat oil, scallions (if you have) and some hot chili. Gently fry the tofu in the oil until brown.
Toss the noodles with tofu and sprinkle extra oil on top. If you have on hand something crunchy – like pine nuts or radish, add it in there! This is best eaten cold. To make sure the ingredients don’t stick the next day, you can sprinkle some extra oil on top.
Cold pasta salad with chickpeas, olives and ham – and whatever other toppings you’d like
This is not only easy but requires no actual “cooking.” Simply prepare the pasta of your choice – macaroni or spirals are fun and aesthetically pleasing – and set aside.
Combine canned chickpeas, olives and cut up pieces of ham. If you want more greens, defrost green peas and throw it in there.
Mix everything together with the salad dressing of your choice, salt and pepper, and pour everything directly into the Tupperware you plan on bringing your lunch in. Shake it to combine, and leave in the fridge to marinate. The next day you’ll have something light, tasty crunchy and soft – minimal washing of dishes required!
Hummus platter with crackers and raw vegetables to your liking
You can go as homemade or as store-bought as you want with this chop-and-pack lunch idea. Either buy pre-made hummus for minimum fuss, or combine chick peas and oil in a blender for the more homemade option.
Chop up any dippers you fancy the night before: pita chips, baby carrots, raw broccoli or cauliflower, bell peppers, cucumbers, and apples. Anything you fancy dipping works! As the main, we love using pita chips and crunchy crackers.
Pack the hummus separately and the vegetables in air tight Ziploc bags and you’ll have an enviable, healthy and crunchy lunch.
Last, as snacks to supplement lunch, pack all the fruit and nuts you want. No one ever complains about oranges, bananas, apples or pears stinking up a room!