Saturday, January 23, 2021

Eat Well: 20 Lunchbox Ideas for Adults


I wish I would have done this post in the pre-Covid era (is that a regular term now?). With more adults working from home, the need of a packed lunch is probably at an all-time low. This post definitely would have been more useful before the “new normal” set in. 

But then again, there would be a lot of professionals (like me) who are going in to work every day because getting the job done remotely is not an option. I don’t know about you but right from my days as a graduate student, I have always preferred bringing lunch from home to avoid the lunchtime cafeteria crowd. It also seemed the most natural thing in the world because all through my school and college years, my lunchbox has been a constant (courtesy: mom)! And now with all the safe distancing measures and a need to increase hygiene standards, there is all the more reason to do so. I find packed lunch from home is tastier (*ahem*), healthier (in terms of sodium, oil & preservatives), more economic and most importantly, it saves time during lunch break especially on busy days.
 
Since the past few years, I have been making a conscious decision to eat better. When I say eat better – to me, it means to eat a wide variety of foods, try to maintain portion control (this is the biggest challenge for me even now), increase my intake of fresh fruits and vegetables and to cut down on processed foods and make healthier snack choices. I don’t believe in deprivation at all so I tend to eat all the foods I enjoy but I do try to be sensible about it. Sometimes I succeed and other times I don't. It is all about striking a balance right? I'm still learning and will definitely strive to improve 😊
 
Even though I have been carrying a packed lunch for as long as I can remember, it is only in the past 1.5 years that I have actually been giving the contents of my lunch box proper thought and documenting it. 

I make sure to get in at least half an hour of exercise in the mornings after the kids leave for school so I don’t have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen. What I pack in my lunchbox is usually last night’s dinner leftovers. It is seldom that I cook in the morning before rushing off to work and it is usually when I'm packing salads, stuffed parathas or grilled sandwiches (which I prefer freshly made). The meals we have for dinner in my household are a mix of Indian and non-Indian dishes, usually simple, flavourful and hearty. I have the habit of planning the entire week’s menu and preparing the grocery shopping list in advance so this really helps me stay on top of things. My kids school lunchbox is a whole other story (I will do a blog post on that in the future).
 
Although I do quite like the concept of an all-in-one bento box, I prefer separate glass or food grade BPA-free plastic boxes of different shapes and sizes to pack the main course, side dishes and snacks. I consume the different components of my lunch box at different time intervals during the day (mid-morning snack, lunch and later afternoon snack). I also prefer to heat up my main course just before eating so the separate boxes do serve their purpose quite well. I have a nice and sturdy lunch bag that holds all the different boxes upright and so far no spills! 
 
So there you go....that’s a brief introduction to adult lunch boxes from my perspective. I’ve prepared a weekday lunch box guide for four weeks to give you some ideas. Where there are recipes available on my blog and for the others that I recall the source of the recipe, I have provided the links. 

I hope this post is comes in handy for those looking for lunch box inspiration both now and in the (hopefully normal!) future. 
 
Week 1

  • Farro salad with roasted pumpkin, beans, baby spinach, pistachios, cranberries and feta cheese with a simple apple cider and dijon mustard vinaigrette. 
  • Cherries
  • Nuts and dried fruit

You can find the recipe here 


  • Methi thepla
  • Tikhari
  • Cucumber, purple carrots & cherry tomatoes
  • Mango, longan, blackberries and blueberries

Recipe for Methi Thepla is adapted from here 
Recipe Tikhari is adapted from here


  • Grilled wholemeal vegetable and egg sandwich
  • Cucumber, purple carrots & cherry tomatoes
  • Nuts & dried fruit
  • Peri peri water lily pops
  • Raspberries and pink dragon fruit


  • Idlis 
  • Vegetable sambar
  • Cucumber, purple carrots & cherry tomatoes
  • Apple & red grapes

You can find the recipe here


  • Mint pulao
  • Cucumber raita
  • Cinnamon & caramel water lily pops
  • Fresh apricots & green grapes

You can find the recipe here



Week 2

  • Greek pearl couscous salad with spiced chickpeas, cucumber, bell peppers, onion, cherry tomatoes, olives, feta cheese and microgreens with a simple lemon vinaigrette
  • Nuts and dried fruit
  • Papaya
  • Homemade milk burfi

You can find the recipe here


  • Chapati & methi paneer
  • Homemade yoghurt
  • Cucumber, purple carrots & cherry tomatoes
  • Papaya, red grapes & blackberries

You can find the recipe here


  • Wholemeal black bean burger 
  • Cucumber, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes
  • Peri peri water lily pops
  • Red grapes

You can find the recipe here


  • Rava idli 
  • Potato bhaji
  • Chutney pudi & coconut oil
  • Peri peri water lily pops
  • Strawberries & green grapes

You can find the recipe here


  • Jasmine rice
  • Vegetarian Thai green curry
  • Cucumbers & cherry tomatoes
  • Clementine & raspberries

You can find the recipe here


Week 3

  • Farro and grilled vegetable salad
  • Boiled egg
  • Cucumbers & purple carrots
  • Mango & fresh figs

Recipe is adapted from here


  • Dill pulao
  • Cucumber raita
  • Cucumber, purple carrot & cherry tomatoes
  • Boiled peanuts
  • Strawberries, clementine & black grapes

You can find the recipe here


  • Pad Thai
  • Cucumber, purple carrots & cherry tomatoes
  • Nuts & dried fruit
  • Fresh figs, red grapes & clementines

You can find the recipe here


  • Cajun pasta stir-fry
  • Cucumber, purple carrots & cherry tomatoes
  • Peri peri water lily pops
  • Papaya


  • Jasmine rice
  • Sweet & sour vegetables
  • Cucumber, baby carrots & cherry tomatoes
  • Peri peri water lily pops
  • Apple


Week 4

  • Chapati
  • Palak paneer
  • Homemade yoghurt
  • Cucumber & cherry tomatoes
  • Apple


  • Vegetable hakka noodles
  • Cucumber, purple carrots & cherry tomatoes
  • Longan
  • Banana


  • Ghee rice
  • Rajma masala
  • Cucumber & purple carrots
  • Peri peri water lily pops


  • Orzo pesto pasta
  • Cucumber, purple carrots & cherry tomatoes
  • Veggie straws
  • Pomegranate, black grapes & strawberries

You can find the recipe here


  • Millet bisibele bhath
  • Cucumber raita
  • Cucumber, purple carrots & cherry tomatoes
  • Strawberries, blueberries & red grapes



Notes:
  • You can replace the white rice with brown rice wherever there are rice dishes. Being South-Indian, I have grown up on white rice hence partial to it. I am trying to slowly replace white rice with brown or red varieties 
  • I use an assortment of whatever salad veggies and fruits I have in the fridge for my snack boxes. 
  • For my late-afternoon snack, I pack nuts & dry fruits, boiled eggs, water lily pops, popcorn, veggie straws or boiled peanuts 
  • I make milk burfi often because my children like it. You can find the recipe here. On occasion, I also may pack a small piece of blueberry banana bread or zucchini chocolate bread when I make it for my children
  • The above are dishes that I make routinely. Those which don't have recipes will be posted on the blog in time and links updated here


Cheers,
Megha

2 comments:

What do you think of this post? You can leave a message to let me know. Thanks!

Please note that I reserve the right to delete any comments that I deem inappropriate, offensive, spam or self-advertising. I appreciate your understanding in this matter.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...