Ideas for Working Parents' Lunches

Parent Q&A

  • I find I eat better and save money when I'm able to take my own lunch to work, but with a busy schedule and hectic morning routine I can't always make it happen. I look longingly at those services that deliver prepared foods or ready to go lunches, but I can't afford to go that route. (They are more expensive than if I just bought lunch near my office). We try to make enough dinner to have leftovers to take for lunch, but that doesn't always happen because sometimes we don't have dinner at home, or the leftovers go to the kids school lunches, or there's just not enough leftovers. I've tried to make something in the morning (e.g. sandwich & salad) but with a very hectic morning routine of making breakfast for 4 people, packing 2 school lunches and trying to get everyone out the door, I can't add another task. I need things that are easy to grab and go, or prepare ahead. Any suggestions? I don't like frozen meals from stores. I'm going to try to make soups or chile ahead and freeze lunch portions, but I know its going to be hard to keep up. Any dinner suggestions for meals that lend themselves well to having enough leftover for easy lunches? What do you take for lunch? 

    Thanks in advance

    We also no longer have enough dinner leftovers for me to take for lunch on a regular basis now that I have a 10 year old son who eats a lot! I go to a grocery store near my work on my Monday lunch hour and stock up on just my food for the week at work, fruit/popcorn/deli-prepared food/clamshell salads/frozen entrees (typically Amy's brand) or whatever. Not my favorite but just something to keep me going. I also try to focus less on the food part of lunch and use most of my time to take a 20-30 minute walk. 

    I empathize! You are not alone. I don't have a perfect solution for this (we're in the struggle, too), but our strategy has been to find recipes we can cook on the weekend when we have more time and that will last us several meals & then try to cook something like a veggie-laden pasta dish that comes together faster but will also stretch several meals during the week.

    For example, this go-to recipe doubled has worked well for us: (I think it's just a copy of the America's Test Kitchen version we use).

    Our quick "crap-we-don't-have-leftovers for lunch" fix is to make egg salad sandwiches and use chipotle mayo (which we much prefer to the regular stuff) and prep the egg salad the night before so all you have to do is slap it between bread in the morning and go.

    Good luck & I'll be eager to see how others handle this, too!

    I take those pre-made salads that you can get at Safeway, Costco and trader joe’s. Every. Single. Day. It’s pretty boring and it’s a lot of packaging, but it’s cheap and easy. I also take a piece of fruit and an easy afternoon snack (yogurt, cheese, nuts, dried fruits, etc.) because those salads are not that filling. I can pack a lunch in 5 min or even less as I’m rushing out the door.