February 8, 2012

Working Lunch

During the work week, I bring my lunch four out of five days—a habit I'm really proud of, actually. Brushes off shoulders, buffs nails, leans back self-adoringly.... 

Since I commute by bus, I often am found in the kitchen at work artfully producing my lunch out of my adorable, highly compartmental, Laptop bento box. "What a tidy lunch you have!"It's light-weight, thin, BPA-free, made in the USA, dishwasher-safe, and (frankly) it just makes me happy.

Seriously, it's one of the best purchases I have ever made. I opted for the greatest configuration of mini boxes, which totaled about $45, so I can work with a good number of different portion sizes. Yes, that's a lot to spend on a lunch box, but I put it to great use and have saved about that much money every two weeks by bringing my own lunch to work. 

People have commented that it's a great way to keep portions in control too, which is totally true; but it's also fantastic for packing a variety of healthy options. I normally prefer a smattering of random things over a sandwich and chips. Meaning, my eating habits are not far from those of a toddler, except I actually love vegetables!

The salad above is one of my lunches from earlier this week that I enjoyed at my desk (don't worry, I clean my mouse and keyboard with alcohol wipes often enough that germs aren't too disgusting). It's a gorgeous winter salad, packed full of nutrients. Despite the horrific lighting, those are the actual colors. I picked the lettuce and broccoli from the garden that morning, and packed along only about a tablespoon of my favorite dressing (Cashew Tamari from Mother's) to top it off. It's a tasty (and accidentally vegan!) salad that you should try too!

I used to be of the mindset that I couldn't pack a salad for lunch and enjoy it. That was back in the day of boring, grocery-store salads and prior to my finding Cashew Tamari. Nowadays, I can't get enough of the sweet buttery garden lettuce and keep things interesting by packing a new ingredient each time.

The best advice I have for bringing a salad to lunch that you'll actually want to eat? Make it colorful and add at least one ingredient that's unexpected. The butternut squash was an afterthought, but one I'm glad to have made. Even eating it cold (I'd steamed it the night before), it brought a new level of sweetness to the salad and the texture was right on. 

Oh, and pack your "dry" ingredients separate from the wet ones, so that your lettuce doesn't wilt and nothing else gets soggy!

Easy-to-Pack Winter Lunch Salad
1 1/2 cups fresh lettuce 
1/2 cup fresh broccoli florets 
1/2 fresh grapefruit, sectioned, plus about 1 tablespoon of the juice
1/2 cup steamed butternut squash or 1/2 diced avocado
1/4 cup walnut pieces
1/8 cup dried cranberries
1-2 tablespoons of your favorite dressing, or about 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil

Pack the lettuce, broccoli, walnuts, and cranberries in one container together, and the grapefruit, butternut squash, and dressing separately (you don't want them wilting your salad before you're ready to eat it).

When it's lunch time, toss everything together (Toss, toss!*) and let your coworkers gaze in awe at the rainbow salad in front of you.

The best part? You've just accomplished a gourmet lunch salad at a fraction of restaurant cost!

* A Wicked reference, for my sister and mom! 


AStopa said...

You should add "toss toss" to the end of your packing lunch sentence...just sayin' :) Fantastic! Can't wait for the new look

Claire Jain said...

Aman and I went to go see Wicked last night, and it was awesome! You should be proud of brining your lunch to work 4 days a week. It's a major accomplishment :-D