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How to Pack Lunch in Five Minutes Flat

I know a lot of people say they don’t have time to pack lunch for work, but seriously, all you need is an extra five minutes to open your fridge and throw together an awesome, healthy, and cheap meal!

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I rarely formally plan meals because I think it would stress me out, but I pack my lunch for work almost every single day. I get bored of sandwiches really quickly, so one of my favorite things to do is open the fridge and throw half of my leftovers on top of a salad!

Today’s creation — a Mexican-ish salad :)

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I started with a huge Tupperware, into which I threw some mixed greens and raw spinach:

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Next, I heated up this bad boy:

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90 second brown rice, holla.

And tossed about half of it on top of the salad:

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Next up, some avocado and red and green peppers hanging out in my veggie drawer:

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I always slice my avocado while it’s still in the skin — makes it easy to just smush it out already cut up into small pieces!

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Next up — some leftover black beans!

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Followed by salsa, which makes almost everything awesome:

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(I am becoming a master at one handed photos)

And then, the grand finale — FETA! Because, as we all know… Feta makes it betta. :)

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To accompany my fiesta salad feast, I grabbed some grapes (gotta end lunch with something sweet!):

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And for afternoon snacks, a Chobani pineapple Greek yogurt (SO obsessed):

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And a serving of roasted almonds!

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All packed and ready to go!

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And I even made it to work on time :)

Do you pack your lunch and if so, what’s your favorite thing to pack?

I’m home from work now and it’s thunderstorming — I love thunderstorms! It makes me want to cozy up with a book in a window seat and watch the rain come down. :) Too bad I have to work on BioChem… I’m off to get to it.

Have a great night :)

p.s. LA Boxing has launched a fun new website featuring yours truly along with the 8 other bloggers nationwide who are currently partnering with them. Check me out! :)

p.p.s. Speaking of salads — check out my friend Sabrina’s I Love Salad! challenge!

Comments

  1. 1

    Your salad looks delish – what a great idea to add the beans and rice!
    I checked out the LA blog and love it. I think that is really cool that you guys get to try out their gym for 3 months. I am in LOVE with kickboxing!

  2. 2

    I always pack my lunch for work. It’s usually leftovers, but sometimes I throw together a sandwich or salad. I always end lunch with a piece of fruit…it’s the dessert!

  3. 3

    mm that salad looks right up my alley! My go-to quickie lunch is black beans with a raw sweet potato. Takes 1 minute to grab it, and then 5 minutes to microwave it at work!

  4. 4

    I usually pack leftovers for lunch. Sometimes a salad like that though. I do the same avocado smooshing technique when I cut mine.

  5. 5

    I love taking huge salads to work. They’re so easy, just like you said! I take a leafy green base, add a whole grain, a protein, a fat, and then top it all off with a fruit component (either on the salad or on the side…depending on the fruit in question). So simple, so easy….and it covers all your nutritional bases. Not to mention they always taste amazing!

  6. 6

    PERFECT!!!! Its so true that salads make for a speedy pre-packed lunch :)

  7. 7

    YUM! i am definitely a soup girl…i’m a fan of hot things for lunch, and soup always fills me up :)

  8. 8

    I love your lunch idea! I had have a lot of avocado around and I need new ways to use it! Thanks for the inspiration!

  9. 9

    That looks delicious! I’ve never considered dumping leftovers on a salad but I will try it.

    I make my lunch every day. I’d prefer to not eat lunch out. I make sandwiches, soup, salads, eat leftovers, Lean Cuisines if I’m too busy to cook, and lots of veggies.

  10. 10
    heather says:

    Anne _ Where do you get the Chobani Yogurt? I go to Safeway & never see it there. Does Whole Foods have it?

  11. 14

    I make those kinds of salads fairly often. Taking your lunch to work is fairly easy, healthy and saves a TON of $! And the few times I do go out to lunch, I’m often disappointed if my selection wasn’t very tasty for the amount I spent on it.

  12. 15

    You have NO idea how much I needed this post!! I feel like I’m always torn between packing a healthy lunch and being a zillion hours late to work. And for some reason even quicky lunches take me too long, because lets face it I’m still asleep until noon – on the inside. I am literally writing this down and putting it on my fridge. Right up my alley. Thanks so much!
    xoxo

  13. 17

    I agree that making your lunch does not require that much additional time and is so much cheaper. I am not currently working (taking online classes tho) but when I was I would make my lunch all the time. I would normally make a giant salad with canned tuna (or other meat) with yogurt, apple, and almonds. Every day I would try to change up my snacks but stuck to the salad since it was healthy. I had to be careful at work because there was also food there!

  14. 18

    This is my favorite lunch! Leftover salads. I agree, it’s ALWAYS possible to put together an amazing and healthy lunch in just 5 min. People just need to get a little creative. ;)

  15. 19

    leftovers!!! I make big dinners then pack the leftovers for mine and my husbands lunches! But that salad is right up my alley and looks amazing and so much better than the gross frozen microwavable meals that half my office eat!

  16. 20

    That looks like my kind of lunch! And this is pretty much how i make my lunches! My favorite is leftover fajita mixings, there’s something about fried onions, peppers and mushrooms served over greens with hummus that is just SO TASTY.

  17. 21

    Does 5 minutes account for stopping and takin pictures? ;)

  18. 23

    I pack my lunch every morning too. My end result is usually a salad similar to yours, yogurt, granola bar an a piece of fruit or baggie of veggies. I keep all the ingredients in tupperware in the fridge so it’s easy to throw together in the AM. I also taped an index card to my front door that reads “Got Lunch?” so that I won’t forget!

  19. 24

    This is great! IT’s funny though because I already kind of do that. Get so some lettuce and throw leftovers on it. I make a “taco” salad about once or twice a week… unfortunately I’m STILL always late! I think I just need to get up earlier!

    Oh, and your salad looks way better than mine. :)

  20. 25

    I don’t make meal plans either but I always pack my lunch for work or walk home to eat there. I usually throw together a salad, sandwich, or eat leftovers and it usually ends up being much healthier and much cheaper than if I were to buy lunch out somewhere.

  21. 26

    Great ideas! My bf will choose not to eat rather than wake up earlier and pack a lunch but maybe he’ll try this.

  22. 27
    Sarah R says:

    Great post! Ugh–biochem. I just took my final for that course and couldn’t be happier that it is over! Good luck with it!

  23. 28

    Great post, indeed. Lunch is key. No one should go without it. Well done!

  24. 29

    I pack my lunch every day. I’m kinda stuck in a rut right now: sandwich, celery and carrots and an apple. Boring. This salad idea looks amazing.

  25. 30

    I pack lunches for both my husband and I every morning. It doesn’t take long and makes sure that healthy eats are available for both of us!

  26. 31

    I take my lunches everyday but I sometimes get bored and lack inspiration, this looks like a fantastic salad, it’ll soon be part of my repertoire, thanks!

  27. 32

    I’m a big fan of doing a big Sunday arvo cook-up and making a big batch of something to eat for lunch everyday for the week (I realise most people will get bored of that, but I’m very loyal to delciousness). This week my lunch is curry:
    Rogan Josh sauce, garlic, onion, paneer cheese, cauliflower, carrot, potato, broccoli, mushrooms, cashews and chili powder … yum! x

  28. 33

    Anne, GREAT article! Found you thru Spark People so thanks for the blog!
    Love this salad idea, I am going to use the lettuce I have growing in my garden! I want to know, thou, is there an alternative to feta? (I know, I know, ‘feta makes it betta!’) I am not sure about the taste! Maybe water chestnuts?

    Also, I have found that Stoneyfield(SF) has a great Organic fat free yogurt that is free of the high fructose corn syrup. I only recently started eating yogurt, so I do not know if all yogurt is free of this but I have enjoyed SF w/ some gronala (I am a ‘texture eater’!) SF can be found in most super markets in case readers can not find the Greek yogurt.
    Mahalo nui loa (thank you very much!) for a great recipie!

    • 34

      You can just leave out the feta if you like, or maybe sprinkle on some grated 2% cheddar cheese! Cheddar always goes nicely with salsa :)

      And, I love Stonyfield, especially their Oikos Greek yogurt :) Stonyfield and Chobani are my two favorite yogurts!

    • 35
      pixelhaze says:

      I have a suggestion – Use Mexican ranchero cheese! Definitely fits the theme and it’s very yummy.

  29. 36
    Cranbyrre says:

    Omigosh, what a GREAT idea! and it looks so YUMMY! But how many calories does all that have? Beans are kind of high, rice too…and cheese….and nuts…It sure looks good if the cal’s aren’t too high. I gotta keep my lunch right around 300 calories or I’ll go over by the end of the day.

    • 37

      Well, the salad and grapes were my lunch, and the yogurt and nuts were for an afternoon snack (around 3 or 4 p.m.), so it wasn’t all JUST lunch!

      But I’d probably estimate the salad (with beans, rice, etc.) and grapes to be about 500 calories – it was a HUGE salad! You could make yours smaller to cut back, or leave off the feta/some of the beans. Subbing salsa for dressing helps cut it down, though!

      I usually average about 1800 to 2000 calories a day, but I work out a lot, so I need it! This usually ends up breaking down to about 400 or 500 at breakfast, 500 or 600 at lunch, 300 to 400 for a snack or two, and 500ish for dinner.

  30. 39

    Do you store this in the fridge at work? And then eat it cold?

  31. 41

    i always make my lunch for the next day when i cleaning up from dinner the night before.. that way i get the best pickins for mine. Snacks and fruit are packed, washed and ready to rock when i get up in the morning.. i leave for work at 5 so i dont want to wast time packing in the morning. (also bough myself a cute stylish lunch bag that is brightly colored helps me to look forward to lunch)

  32. 42

    Sandwiches are not one of my favourites so I try to mix it up by using tortillas with leftover chicken and veggies, some salsa and fat-free sour cream if I have it. Also, I will take a multi-grain tortilla, an egg, and a slice of low-fat cheese to work in a microwavable container. At noon, I scramble the egg in the container and cook it in the microwave for about 45 seconds, put it on the tortilla with the cheese and some veggies and voila! Lunch!

  33. 43

    Great post and great idea. I always have greens on hand and usually just opt for leftovers. I will try tossing them on a salad. I agree Salsa makes everything better!

    I use small snack containers rather than disposable plastic bags though. I don’t mind bringing them back home to wash.

  34. 44
    PansyLady2 says:

    You’re salad looks great and includes some things–beans and rice–that I would never have thought about. I’m waiting for more yummy suggestions for a fast-pack lunch. Thanks!

  35. 45

    I pack my 5 minute lunch the night before – that way I have 5 more minutes to sleep in the morning :-)

    However, on those days when I don’t get it pulled together the night before it is nice to have these throw together healthy ideas so I don’t resort to the more costly/unhealthy alternatives.

    Thanks for the great ideas.

  36. 46

    Can’t wait to see more lunch ideas! I love packing a work lunch, I too get bored with sandwiches. Thanks for the idea!

  37. 47

    GREAT FOR INSPIRATION. I KNOW IF I EAT THE SAME STUFF ALL OF THE TIME I GET BORED. THANKS

  38. 48

    Thanks for all the pictures for each step of your salad – it looks easy to make and de-lish!!

  39. 49
    Paula Pelton says:

    I LOVED your ideas for 5 minute lunches..I have basically been doing the same thing for nearly a year now. Its important to add a few snacks with crunch…Almonds are perfect..I like carrot sticks , celery, jicama,radishes, anything I can pop into a baggie thats a veggie that crunches. And always remember the fruit…it helps the afternoon hunger thingy….lol…. Keep up your get efforts and Spark ON!

  40. 50

    Terrific!

  41. 51

    Awesome ideas!!! thanks for that!

  42. 52

    Delicious and so easy!

  43. 53

    Great looking salad! I do pack every day, for breakfast and lunch as I don’t have time for breakfast before I leave. Yogurt and some kind of home baked muffin or scone (Thanks for Sunday bake days), and for lunch it is either left overs, or homemade soup (another weekend project) or a frozen meal. All a nice variety. I am not much for salads, a bit burned out on them, but I love the idea of a salad like yours with all the great additions! I would have never thought of rice and beans.

    Thanks!

  44. 55

    A quick and easy lunch idea: Trader Joe’s carries bags of small red, yellow and orange peppers. I cut the top off and take out the seeds and stuff the inside with a slice of TJ’s Columbia Reduced Sodium Roasted Turkey Breast on which I spread a thin layer of Sabra hummus. I put these in small zipper bags and they make easy eating when I’m at work. A piece of fruit and a small handful of nuts makes a good lunch.

  45. 57
    LawraLoo says:

    I just made this for lunch and loved it! I added some tomatoes and mushrooms too.
    Thanks for this, it’s yum yum yum. Mind if I post it to my sparkblog? :)

    • 58

      So glad you liked it!

      Feel free to post it on your sparkblog! I’d prefer if you just link here for the recipe rather than copying and pasting it, though! :)

  46. 59

    First off, sodium is obviously not a consideration. These ideas are too high cal for me. Eating 6-8 small meals/day this wouldn’t work. Lots of calorie dense foods here. And the fat content! Plus lots of processed foods…I’m sorry but this doesn’t seem healthy to me.

    • 60

      Sorry to hear it wouldn’t work for you! I usually eat about 5 times a day – breakfast, lunch, two afternoon snacks, and dinner. It works great for me, but I know some people prefer 3 larger meals a day! My meals are NOT super calorie dense though – in fact, I usually try to pick foods with more volume for less calories (e.g. lots of fresh veggies!). I average between 1800 to 2200 calories a day from real, whole foods, as opposed to processed diet foods. I do work out a lot, though, so my caloric needs are a bit higher from that, though still not extreme. Remember this pictures both my lunch AND my afternoon snack!

      Regarding the sodium and processed foods comment – I’m not sure what you’re talking about? There’s nothing processed about lettuce, beans, brown rice, grapes, fresh veggies, etc. And I don’t think the sodium is too high either – the rice is totally plain, so the only thing that would really have any is the salsa (which didn’t have that much) and the beans, which I rinsed. Oh – and healthy fat (avocado, nuts, etc.) is NOT the enemy – in fact, it’s an important part of a healthy diet!

  47. 61

    Hey Anne –

    Great 5 minute ideas! I found you through SparkPeople. I pack my lunch every day and lately have just gotten into a “salad kick” as well. I take one night a week to make a huge batch of pasta salad, or some other yummy “meal” salad that is at least 6 servings. The divide it up into containers ready in my fridge. Also just got into the habit of pre-packaging all my fruits, veggies & snacks so I can grab and go in the morning. 2 minutes tops to grab:
    - meal salad (already prepped)
    - piece of fruit
    - baggie of veggies
    - cheese string
    - yogurt (gotta love those Chobanis!!!)
    - baggie of almonds (gotta have my nuts)
    - one treat item – usually a granola bar, or fig newtons

    No more excuses not to bring lunch! I think next week I’m going to try your Mexican-ish Salad idea. Thanks!

  48. 63

    this is great thanks!

  49. 64

    This is a wonderful inspiration for me as I begin losing weight! Thank you so much!

  50. 65
    meneathiel says:

    This was AWESOME. We had it for dinner last night and I am making it again tonight.

    Any idea what the nutrition makeup is. IE calories, fiber, protien etc? No worries if you don’t know it’s fantastic and I’ll eat it anyway but it would be nice to know.

  51. 67

    Hi there! Love your piece on packing a healthy lunch-I do very much the same thing as you-put together a basic salad and add some leftovers to it. That’s if I even HAVE any leftovers-with two growing girls in the house, it’s not always possible! So when there’s no leftovers, I usually make a quick tuna or chicken salad and add that to the salad. It’s so good, it doesn’t even need dressing! I like my sweet treat after lunch too, but if I don’t want fruit, I usually pack a 100-calorie snack pack, like the cookies or something. Thanks again for your blog!

  52. 68

    Perfect. Inspiring. I believe I’ll be
    crediting you for one more successful dietary day!!!

  53. 69

    Hi Anne! Any great advice on fun grab and go filling breakfasts to bring to the office? I am getting pretty sick of Special K and Blueberries and personally, I really cant stand the consistency of Oatmeal. When I bake muffins they just don’t fill me up enough. Struggling! I really want to start off the day with a great kick of nutrients to satisfy me

    • 70

      Here are some options:
      - Greek yogurt w/a baggie of cereal
      - Larabar + a banana
      - Kashi granola bar + Greek yogurt or a banana
      - Make a smoothie to drink on the way + a baggie of cereal
      etc.!

      Check out the breakfast and snack sections of my recipes page, too!

      • 71

        Thanks Anne! Just tried a Larabar fr the first time today and was very pleased :) Surprisingly filling, guessing cause they are so dense. Also definitely satisfy my sweet tooth (danger!)

  54. 72

    Good job on the lunch packing. You covered everything you need in a lunch. I would add another whole grain and it’s complete. Thanks for sharing!

  55. 73

    I am always on the look-out for new lunch ideals with healthy ingredients and lots of flavor… and this looks perfect! Thanks for including it!

  56. 74

    Hi Anne!

    What foods can you recommend for medical personnel who work 10-13 hour night shifts? I try to eat a salad very similar to what you show above-I use romaine (my favorite) purple onion, green pepper, hot peppers, celery, every once in a great while beets, leftover chicken or boiled egg, spinach if I have any, and I make an olive oil & vinegar or lemon juice dressing-Oikos yogurt, nuts, fruit in season and unsweetened iced tea will complete the lunch-on the nights when we are absolutely too busy to stop I try to get some water, yogurt, nuts & fruit in. I try to eat dinner with my family before I leave at 6, and don’t eat again until 2 or 3 am. I find frozen meals too salty for my taste, and will only eat homemade soups to combat the salt in processed soups. Is it bad to eat before going to sleep in the morning? I feel ravenous especially if I had only the yogurt and nuts earlier.

    • 75

      Hey Maria – sounds like you’ve been making some great food! I would check out my “packed lunch” section of my recipe page for more ideas. I have some great soups on my recipe page, too. It’s definitely not bad to eat before going to sleep – it’s worse to try to go to bed ravenous – you’ll have trouble falling asleep! Best of luck and keep up the healthy habits!

  57. 76

    I love this post! I am all about leftovers on salads! And I put salsa on EVERYTHING. It’s such a quick way to add flavor :)

  58. 77

    Hi Anne. At first, I’m so happy to have found your blog! I love it!

    My question is, isn’t rice supposed to be eaten straight away and not stored because of high risk of bacteria development? Thank you!

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