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) onceamonthmeals.com 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 kitchn.com 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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *