How Do You Pack The Perfect Lunch?

Hello, and welcome back to What's Cooking?, the open thread where you get to share your brilliant thoughts, advice, recipes and opinions on all things food-related. This week I'd like to talk about packed lunches, and how you keep them tasty and interesting.

Photo by Mr.TinDC.

Your midday meal can be a joyous break or a bleak affair, depending on how you plan it, so I want to know how you make your work lunch happy. Some questions to get you going:

  • What kind of lunch-carrying container do you use? Do you like an insulated bag, a classic square lunchbox, a cute little bento or a literal paper bag?
  • What does your average lunch look like? How many items do you have in there? Are there any foods you simply must pack?
  • Do you pack a beverage? I used to find my days went much better if I was hydrated, so tried to always pack a big bottle of water with lemon slices, plus a Diet Coke to keep me caffeinated.
  • What is your most clever lunch-packing and -eating tip? The best thing I ever did for my work lunch game was stock my drawer with good salt, lemons and hot sauce.
  • How important is variety? Do you eat the same thing every day? Making a big batch of something and eating it throughout the week always seemed like a good, budget-friendly idea, but it also seemed kind of monotonous. Do you try to mix it up, or are repeat meals OK?
  • How big of a role do leftovers play? I used to love the days when I could just pack a slice or two of leftover pizza, but found that most leftovers had to be re-imagined into something new and exciting. Leftover steak became a salad, chilli con carne got mixed with cheese and served with tortilla chips, roasted vegetables became a taco filling, and so on.
  • What food do you consider "off limits" for work? I think bringing a stinky lunch to a shared eating space is the height of rudeness, and people who microwave fish at work are monsters. Also making anything that takes a long time to microwave is fairly rude.
  • Do you ever participate in "lunch swaps" or group lunches? A group of ladies at my old job would always do mini potlucks for each other's birthdays. Those were pretty fun, especially because there was usually cake.
  • Where do you usually eat lunch? Is it at your desk? Don't eat at your desk.

As always, feel free to comment on anything and everything lunch-related, even if it isn't in answer to any of the above questions, as I value all of your tasty wisdom.

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