Make-Ahead Lunches

As those of you who know me a bit know, I take New Year’s resolutions pretty seriously, and try to lay out ambitious, but attainable, goals, objectives, values, principles, and such-like every New Year.

(Nothing sacred about New Years, by the way.  But nothing wrong with it either, and it does have the virtue, like summer vacation, that I have a bit of down time to step back and thing about the Bigger Picture.)

So one resolution (or goal, or habit, I’m not entirely clear on the distinctions) for 2016 is: Make-ahead lunches.

There’s a couple of converging streams of better-ness here.

  1. Save Money.  I’ve been scheming to get down the price of my lunches over the last couple of years, and have gotten them down to $5-6 a lunch going to our local Asian steam-table restaurant.  Not bad, and a lot better than the $12-15 I started with.  But getting under $5 seemed to involve either excessive deprivation or making lunches at home.
  2. Nutritious meals.  Making my own lunches seemed to be the ideal way to get into them exactly what I wanted (although, as we shall see, the making-ahead aspect introduces some constraints.)
  3. Fascination with bulk methods in food prep.  Something about making the lunches ahead — in bulk — captured my imagination.  As you may or may not know, there’s a OAMM (Once-a-month meals) meme out there on the Net with something of an infrastructure, thought leaders, etc.    Check out the (commercial) site or just Google it.
  4. “Productivity”.  I’m not 100% sure that make-ahead meals are more productive, but I’m prepared to believe it, and prepared to experiment with it.

So, if you Google “make-ahead lunches” you will get a hodge-podge of once-a-month, once-a-week, and “night-before” lunch recipes and schemes.  I did some reading and digging around and Web clipping over the holidays, and ended up learning two things about myself:

  • I’m not ready for once-a-month prep — lunch or all meals — at this time (and maybe never).  Too much of a hump for me, plus I’m not sure I believe the hype about how it saves you time.  Plus I had a hard time seeing how you could get the variety you wanted for a whole month in advance.  No flexibility in it.  You’re stuck with the work of the You who made those meals at the beginning of the month.
  • I want minimum same-day prep.  My morning routine has a lot of moving parts — writing, meditating, helping the dog, etc. — without adding more stuff to it.  My perfect same-day lunch routine would consist of fetching a container out of the fridge or freezer and adding it to the heap of gear I take with me out to the car.

So, that means once-a-week prep of 1-3 different lunch meals that I can freeze or refrigerate and will last the week in that form.

As far as I can make out, that kind of puts the kabosh on make-ahead salads, because they either they don’t last out the week (soggy, wilted, etc.) or they require same-day prep (add the dressing, croutons, whatever).  I’m still open to salads, but for now I’m focusing on soups, wraps, and possibly sandwiches.

For Week 1 (this week), I made a batch of burritos using this approach from and shredded chicken made this way from Picky Palate.  I wrapped each one in aluminum foil and froze them.  I also made a couple of servings of Italian Wedding soup from a big batch my wife had made up on Sunday.

I’m scheming ahead for Week 2, and would welcome any links, tips, pointers, or suggestions.

One thought on “Make-Ahead Lunches”

  1. My 2 cents: about 15 years ago I was over 205 lbs heading up. Felt bad. I lost the weight over less than a year and have kept to around 175 or lower since then with little effort. No “diet.” What I did was simple science/engineering: measure, experiment, modify, cycle. I weighed myself every morning before eating. I paid attention to what I was eating, when, how much and how I felt. I then noticed the impact the next day, if any. I gradually shifted my patterns so my weight went in the right direction. I got the positive feedback in my head of the numerical progress, and emotionally because I just plain felt better. I noticed, for example, that for me, shifting the amount of eating earlier while keeping the substance/volume the same resulted in less weight. Many other things as well.

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