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Lunch Help

I think it is obvious that life gets harder with age.

When you are younger all you want to do is grow up. But when you grow up there are decisions to make, hardships to face, and people to please.

One of the hardest decisions I have had to face as an adult is lunch.

Seriously lunch.

Think about how easy lunch was when we were younger. Our lunch was either packed for us and so kindly deliver to the lunch room for us or we were able to select a scrumptious meal courtesy of the school cafeteria.

Yes I am in the small percentage of about .2% of kids that like the cafeteria food.

I am just about the least pickiest person you will ever meet.

But now that I am a boring adult I do not have the luxury of somebody packing my lunch, or a tasty cafeteria with a yummy new meal everyday.

I have to figure it out for myself, and it is hard.

Now bringing my own lunch to work seems like such a small "problem" to have in life, and in fact it is a small "problem". But even small problems matter people!

First of all there is the problem of remembering to pack your lunch.

Most days I am running out of the house as fast as I can trying to make it to work only 15 minutes late and not 30 minutes last. Packing my lunch is not on the top of my mind.

Second of all there is the problem of not knowing what to pack.

What do you bring for lunch? A sandwich seems like the typical thing to bring but after eating a sandwich for lunch for more than 3 days in a row I start to gag with the mere through of a sandwich.

I am ashamed to admit that a lot of days I end up going out and grabbing something fast. Usually Chick Fila or Subway. I HATE spending money on this, but its usually what I end up doing.

Does anybody else have problems coming up with something other than a sandwich to eat for lunch? Anybody have any good lunch ideas?

I really don't want to spend money eating out everyday, but I also need some creative ideas of what to pack for lunch.

It seems like such a small issue, but everyday around 11:30 I start to have a panic attack about what to eat.

I miss the school cafeteria. Turkey Ala King was my fav.


  1. HAHA!! I sooooo thought I was alone in the “I like school food” category!!! I loved school lunch. And all we could drink was milk with it and it tasted so good with the school lunch and was the only time I’d eat milk with a meal and seriously, there’s was the only pizza I’d dip in ketchup! LOL! I know, weird right?

    Anyhoo, I’ve been running into the same dilemma here lately as far as lunch goes. I just started this week not eating out. I was packing salads, I love tuna and crackers, fruit, bananas, and sometimes I’ll do PB&J. It also helps because I go to school three days a week and work thru lunch those day so I can leave early to go to school, so I’m kind of forced to eat in, but still found myself going and grabbing fast food, and bringing it back. I’m trying to stop that.

    I know this probably doesn’t help but take comfort in knowing you are not alone in your food dilemma, ha!! :)

  2. Leftovers, leftovers, leftovers. I always make extra pasta (spaghetti, lasagna, whatever) and pack it in indivudal portions and freeze them. Then I just take one out the night before and it's ready to throw in the microwave the next day. I also eat a lot of salads topped with chicken or hardboiled eggs. Usually when I cook chicken breasts I make a couple of extra to chop up and use on salads, sandwiches or in wraps!

  3. I hate thinking about lunch too! I try to think about it the night before because the thought of food in the morning makes me feel sick. My problem is that I can't eat the same thing over and over again. Sometimes its leftovers, but I also try to keep a few quick things around the house. There is only 1 place to get food in the town where I teach so I'll go there if I'm really desperate!

  4. I hate figuring out my lunch! Some days I bring leftovers, some days I have cup o'noodles (actually too often to really admit). I also have a rotation of Spaghetti'Os and a few frozen meals I'll bring. But I am the worst at just forgetting to bringing it to work, so my favorite - leaving it in the car all day. My husband is amazing at bringing his lunch everyday and sitting in his little office eating while he scans the internet. I always have to GET OUT of the office so then I end up in your boat, spending money on Chick Fil A, Wendys, Arbys etc...

    Also - I wasn't a fan of normal school cafeterias but I'd eat in my college's dining hall all day long. I miss it so much!

  5. I make all of my lunches on Sunday evening. I don't mind eating the same thing everyday so usually, I make 5 sandwiches, divide some edamame into 5 baggies, same with the grapes (or whatever fruit I have that week) and Cheez Its. Then each night when I get home from work, I fill my lunch bag with the next day's lunch and toss it in the fridge. Sometimes I do salads but mostly sandwiches. In the winter, I make a huge pot of soup (chili, potato or vegetable) for dinner and after Mike and I eat, I portion the rest out into single-serving Gladware containers and put them in the freezer. That way, I can just grab one for lunch. I also LOVED cafeteria food... Hot Rodder Chicken was my favorite :o)

  6. I have found that making lunch the night before has been the solution for me. I never want to do it in the morning, so if I do it the night before, I don't have to worry about it in the rush to work.

    I usually pack a sandwich and chips and some kind of dessert. I also sometimes bring Lean Cuisines or the leftovers of whatever we had for dinner. Variety is the key, because I get bored too!

  7. Loved the square pizza! yum!
    We always make a little extra dinner and I take leftover at least 3-4 days a week. I hate spending money on buying lunch too!
    Oh and I always get my lunch together the night before!

  8. I'm in the same boat as all the Leftovers Peeps. I usually make enough dinner for 4 people and then pack up two tupperwares for the next day. For the days that I don't make enough dinner for leftovers, I keep Lean Cuisines (the pepperoni pizza is pretty much the only one I like) in the freezer at work. I also keep rice cakes and a jar of peanut butter and microwave popcorn in my desk for the times I'm not feeling the frozen diet meal!

    I think the key to getting into the lunch-packing routine is (a) packing it the night before, and/or (b) having things on-hand at work that you can eat in a pinch!

    But I agree... the lull of the Chik-fil-a (or the greasy delicious Greek place, in my case) is hard to resist!

  9. I had the worst time with this in the past and would always end up feeling a bit disappointed by whatever last minute choice I made. Lately, though, I've been eating a Smart Ones, piece of fruit, and 100 calorie pack of something chocolate. Having a set routine like that keeps me from grabbing something that I know is unhealthy, but still allows for a bit of variety.

    I've always been a fan of cafeteria food...especially the corn. Love it!

  10. I struggle ALL THE TIME with what to take for lunch! Eating out at lunch really kills my budget, so I try my darndest to bring my lunch. I usually bring a small frozen meal, like a SmartOnes. I'm at the point with those, since I don't eat ones with meat (gross!), that I might die if I have to eat another one. I LOVE Amy's frozen meals, but they are a lot more expensive ($4-5 rather than $2) and not at my regular grocery store. My Target has a couple of varities. Do you have Central Market? I like to get the prepped meals from there, and they have a small lunchable style lunch for adults-4 pieces of toast, mozzarella/pasta/tomato/basil, chicken or tuna salad, and a berry mix. Delicious! I wonder if your local grocery store has any prepped meals like that? Lastly, there's leftovers. I rarely have leftovers, but it's pretty brilliant assuming dinner was yum!

  11. I try to bring leftovers...I cook enough that there's extras. So the cost per meal goes significantly down if one meal can be divided up into 3 or 4. Of course, some people are anti-leftovers. In that case, Chick-Fil-A might be the best choice! =)

  12. The key for me is packing it while I'm cleaning up the supper dishes. Leftovers or a salad for me! I also love to take leftover pasta noodles with a can of tuna. You could keep a couple of cans of soup at work and some crackers. Take a bowl to work with a lid on it so you can heat your soup and then take it with you when you get out of the office at lunch. My friend use to do that and then go sit at the park or just in the mall parking lot and *people watch.* It really is amazing how much $ you can spend eating out!

  13. I have such a hard time deciding on lunch, too! =.) Glad to know I'm not alone! I can't wait to see what people say...I'll definitely be "stealing" some ideas! =.)

  14. do you like veggie burgers? the morning star ones? Well I buy those and bring them to work and get those whole wheat deli flats and put veggies and sometimes hummas on them! Good for you and keeps you full, but you gotta like veggie burgers: )

  15. i was JUST telling my husband the other day how i use to love the cafeteria pizza. lol. btw i'm in the same boat... taco bell today and i'm 100% I will regret this decision in about an hour.

  16. I'm usually a sandwich girl...but sometimes I bring wraps instead which is always a nice change. And I also enjoy bringing whatever we had for dinner in for leftovers. Mixes things up :)

  17. I have the same problem!
    I forget mine or I eat something ridiculous. If it's not a PB&J, it's a can of corn. Just a can of corn. Because I love corn and it's easy to grab a can and take it to work but it's probably not good to just eat corn. Seriously, I can't get a good system down. And some days I don't mind leftovers but MOST days, I get grossed out by reheated anything.
    If you figure it out, please let us know!!

  18. HAHA! I loved school lunch too! I loved the pizza, chicken tenders, and the REALLY soft chocolate chip cookies! Mmm!

  19. Our school lunch was so good...but I'm pretty sure that has changed drastically with all the nutrition requirements. I don't have to bring my lunch since I work for my parents--lunch at their house or lunch our is normally on the menu for me! However, Hubby does take his lunch & he's great at taking leftovers. Sure, they don't taste exactly the same but it's better than a sandwich everyday. He also does a lot of SmartOnes or Lean Cuisine frozen pizzas.

    When I was in college, I used to take my lunch to work & a chef salad worked great for me. Lettuce, meat, cheese, & other toppings in a bowl...a small container of dressing...and a small baggie with croutons! Perfect and fairly healthy!

  20. I hear you. I hate leftovers and I rarely pack a sandwich or a salad. I wish there was a magical solution!
    My favorite school lunches were either chicken patty sandwiches or hot dogs.

  21. I have to same problem and multiple solutions.

    1. Lean Cuisine or Smart Ones or Amy's the rest suck or are too unhealthy to be worth it

    2. I make bulk meals like lasagna and eat it every day for a week

    3. I use my Foreman grill in the morning and grill up chicken or fish in the morning and have a potato or rice and nuke it

  22. I bring a Lean Cuisine and then extra veggies to steam and mix-in. I feel like it makes it healthier & fills me up without being too expensive or too thought-provoking. I usually pick the LC's with broccoli in them already and then just add more veggies. I call it "voluminous eating" ha.

  23. I completely feel your pain, and have the exact same problem!!! I am also extremely picky, and either pack something and don't want to eat it and starve; or can't decide on something to pack and am so hungry come lunch time that I go out and spend way too much on something to eat.
    If you come up with a brilliant idea to solve this problem, let me know!

  24. Our school lunch was freaking amazing. Seriously. We even had a sushi station (this was K-8!!). Love that private school tuition at work.

    Anyways. Two suggestions: (1) leftovers!!! so easy! just pack the leftovers into single serving portions when you are done cooking, and voila...lunch. (2) pack lunch the night before. Stash it in the fridge and then you don't have to fuss with it in the mornings.

    Salads are also super easy...pasta salads...sandwiches...wraps...mix it up! Good luck finding something that works for you!

  25. I'm a teacher who has lunch duty every day- so I have to pack daily! The key is PLANNING!! when I go to the grocery for the week- I think about what do I want for lunch this week! Definitely I do sandwiches and leftovers and big pots of soup. I don't care for lean cuisines anymore... but I keep lean pockets around for days I'm in a pinch.

    Lately I've been into bringing the instant oatmeal and fruit to stir in to it. I also love to do a large baked sweet potato (just 6-8 minutes in the microwave, add a smidge of butter and brown sugar).

    THis is random, and you have to love tomatoes- but I like bagels with cream cheese and tomatoes - I usually slice the tomatoes and sprinkle on salt, garlic powder and italian seasoning. This tastes like a pizza in the end.

    sometimes i just pack cheese, crackers, and turkey slices.

    hope those ideas help :)

  26. I am with you on this. Lunch is a difficult thing to figure out. There are weeks where if I see one more sandwich I will hurl. Cheese and crackers are my 'go to'...but after several days of that I am in the same spot as sandwiches. I think frozen meals are disgusting and not worth the money (but I am a 'pickier' eater than most... I occasionally take leftovers, but not often. So, maybe the lunch fairy can visit us soon :o)

  27. I always bring my lunch and it's either leftovers or a Lean Cuisine/Smart Ones. So easy to just grab on my way out the door.

    Also, I keep a stash of granola bars, tuna, soup, pretzels, etc. in my desk in case I forget or my lunch doesn't fill me up.

  28. I feel the same way!! I usually pack a sandwich, but, by Wednesday I want to gag. I try to pack leftovers, but, I haven't been real good about that lately.

  29. I posted about this a few months ago and people had some good ideas...

    I am loving these comments with suggestions! I need them!

  30. oh i feel your pain. i have the exact same issue because one can only eat so much pb&j.

    i don't really have a whole lot of suggestions...but i have enjoyed reading everyone's comments on your blog.

    i really need to try the leftover ideas. just need to start cooking ;)

  31. I don't know if you're a big dinner cook but I am always bringing in leftovers for lunch or any new frozen meal. As awful as that sounds, some are actually pretty darn good and a great alternative to fast food.

  32. You are so lucky. I am probably one of the pickiest people on the planet. Usually to work I take a Lean Cuisine (I almost hate to waste a meal on one), but I was at Sam's a few weeks ago and they had a sample of "chicken salad." All you need is canned chicken and Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing, mix them together and you have a fabulous chicken sandwich. You could totally just grab the ingredients and go.

  33. i like Lean Cuisine, Smart Ones, and other preboxed lunches. I also make things like chicken or tuna salad over the weekend so I can easily prep a sandwich for work. In the fall/winter, I also like the soups to go and I keep a box of crackers in my office.

  34. It was the best when i worked for my dad and i forced him to take me out for lunch every day. sigh, that's the only thing i miss about that job!

  35. I am with you on this! I'm a teacher and don't have time to go out for lunch so I have to pack a lunch. And, I am not a fan of sandwiches. I usually bring leftovers. And, once or twice a week, I take a frozen meal.

    A few fellow teachers and I talked about doing a lunch co-op where we bring lunch for the group once a week but that never really got off the ground. But how amazing would it be not to have to worry about lunch?!

  36. Pretty sure I just spent more time reading all the comments on this post looking for ideas than I did actually reading this post. haha

    Anyway, do you have a Trader Joe's around? I am became so over sandwiches unless they are PB&j that I had to come up with some other options so now we go to Trader Joe's every week. I usually get Pita Puffs (like Pita chips but better) and take those with some sliced cheddar cheese. They have a lot of good lunch options on the whole. We used to buy their pre-packed salads and those were always good too.

    Not sure if I was any help.

    Your lucky to be a non-picky eater because I am a picky eater and it makes everything so much more complicated! haha

  37. I'm completely with you on this! I try to be organised and pack my lunch, but I probably only remember to do it like once a week!

    Loads of these comment ideas are great though,I think I'll have to try some!

  38. Leftovers!! That's what I bring at least 4 days a week. And on that lame 5th day I bring a Lean Cuisine...gross.

    And I have to admit, I am one of the lucky few who can still enjoy a cheap cafeteria meal. And my school has a teacher menu in addition to the kids menu, which means yummy salads and sandwiches. It's a benefit of the job :)

  39. I loved cafeteria food. Except for those raisin bar things. Gross. Now I run into the same issue with lunch as you do. It just got too darn expensive to keep eating out. So now we pack our leftovers into separate containers after dinner so that we can just grab those. Or I keep the freezer stocked with Lean Cuisines and grab one of those. Mr. P used to pack me a lunch but he quit that.. Come to think of it, maybe I should just get him to start that again!

  40. My favs:
    1. Fake bologna, american cheese, dijonaiise, hot pepper relish, lettuce on potato bread
    2. Laughing Cow Cheese, black beans, corn, lettuce, green tobasco sauce, in a wrap
    3. Canned chicken salad (lite mayo, celery, spicy mustard, garlic salt, pepper, pickles diced) w/ lettuce, hot pepper relish, pepper jack cheese, and extra celery for the crunch!

  41. On Sunday I try to prep everything for my lunch, using plain chicken breast cooked in the frying pan. Usually I'll chop some red pepper and onion, grate cheddar or pepperjack cheese, and buy a package of flour tortillas. I portion out the veggies and the cheese into small containers, enough for the week. So in the morning I put salad dressing in my bag and grab one of each containers. Sometimes I take salsa or guacamole, other days I use dried cranberries and feta crumbles, depending on what I bought that week. I've found that chicken is a great base and doesn't require much work. Doing the prep work on Sunday makes my week much smoother.

  42. I also loved school lunches, and I am also so unpicky, my friends think I will someday end up getting a disease from bad food.
    But, I like someone above do leftovers all the time. I'm single, so I make just a little extra and eat it later, or make a big thing of something and freeze it for later use. My other suggestion, make your lunch the night before. It always feels like it is something huge, but it only takes me 5 minutes to throw together leftovers, veggies and fruit. And snacks for the day. I've seen by packing the lunch, I eat much better (and have lost a little weight) because I think about it ahead of time.

  43. I liked school food too! In fact, I still do, which is lucky as I'm now a teacher!


  44. I'm so boring with my lunches. A lot of times I'll just bring leftovers, but I also keep a supply of cans of soup. Progresso and Campbells both have a "Light" variety of soup and they're really great and less than 200 calories for the whole can. Chicken Noodle, Veggie, Southwestern, Gumbo, Tortilla, Italian Noodle, etc. I eat one can (add a little water to fill me up a little more) with either some crackers or some veggies/fruit. My office is freezing year-round so I never mind having a warm bowl of soup for lunch. I keep them in my office so I always have them on hand if I don't have left-overs. I have soup at least 3 times a week and love it! Hope that helps! Please share the tips/tricks and advice you decide to try!


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