Three Tips to Brown Bag Your Next Lunch

Ah, we’re talking about the good old-fashioned brown bag lunch. It makes complete sense though we admit, it’s not as much fun as a whimsical jaunt to our favorite deli. Yet again, a DIY lunch is cheaper than eating out and more often than not, it’s healthier as well. So why don’t we do it more often?

Thanks to a piece in The New York Times, there are a few ideas to make this option for lunch en vogue again.

Mark Bittman writes in the piece, “Whatever you pack it in, what happens when you bring your lunch is that you start to see it as primary, and the restaurants and fast-food joints and company cafeterias as backups, rather than the other way around.”

It’s all about making a simple trip or two to your local grocery store and stocking up on essentials like carrots, apples and bananas. Then of course, there are leftovers to keep in mind. You get more bang for your buck by enjoying that restaurant or take-out meal not once but twice. And thanks to your company’s microwave, you can indulge at the desk. He also mentions the third category entails assembly work at home. Notice we’re not saying cooking; it’s merely about taking time to prep in the kitchen.

He reveals in the article, “My strategy is to try to have all of these things working for me. I’m not above bringing leftover pasta, or stews, or other things that are easy to reheat. I do resort to the grab-and-go style of raw food at least once a week. And I often try (I really do) to pack a few components separately and then ready them for microwaving at lunchtime.”

His ideas? Stock up on beans, grains and greens (both cooked and raw). Spice things up with a sauce or two to spruce up some veggies. “Lunch becomes a snap,” he says. It really does make sense. All it takes is getting into a routine by spending a little time in the grocery store or farmer’s market in addition to the cucina.

Bittman adds, “And as it becomes ritualized, the process becomes both more pleasurable (you could have a favorite bowl at work to make it even more so, and real silverware and napkins) and more rewarding. Monotony becomes a thing of the past, as does the dread of figuring out where and what to eat: You have taken control. Let the others laugh.”