green your lunch (@ the office)

Do you take a lunch to work? I read something that said the majority of workers go out to eat for lunch every day, costing an average of $2,000 per year. That’s insane! While I do occasionally go out to eat, most days I bring lunch from home. Leftovers, a quick bento, or a sandwich usually do the trick, plus a few snacks.

Using the bento system has seriously greened up my routine, as it’s a no-waste system that doesn’t require plastic utensils or little Ziplock baggies of anything getting tossed out after your meal. But I’m not perfect and still end up using too much packaging in my daily routine when I’m not planning ahead well. So I decided to do a little post on how to green up your meals at the office to inspire myself and maybe you, to do a little better (kinda like my “green your grocery shopping” post I did way back). It all adds up!

green your meals at the office

Some ideas:

  • Use a Bento box (I use the one shown, which you can get on Amazon), or if it’s an all-in-one meal, a mason jar is awesome! I especially like the short, squatty ones for this.
  • A small tote makes a good lunch box if you have a fridge at the office (no need to have an insulated cooler).
  • BYO silverware. I have a bamboo set and I love them! I use them all the time, but if they are in the dishwasher I toss in regular old silverware with my lunch. I hate plastic utensils!
  • Invest in a couple cute, dishwasher safe travel cups, water bottles, and mugs. And use them.
  • DIY your snacks. I’ve been making our own “Lara Bars” and they are SO easy if you have a food processor. Just chop up some dates, dried coconut, and cocoa powder, then heat up some brown rice syrup and almond butter – mix together and press into a pan. After a couple hours in the fridge, cut into squares to take with you on-the-go! I will have to do a proper post on this because I’ve made lots of fun variations and they are better than the store bought kind, and wayy cheaper.
  • Take whole fruit, and keep a paring knife at the office to cut up the fruit at your desk. No need for brown apples in a throwaway baggie!
  • Make your coffee at home. Extra points for fair trade bulk beans and a reusable coffee filter. 🙂

Any ideas I missed? Any on-the-go conveniences you can’t seem to give up? For me it’s definitely coffee; I only hit up a coffee shop occasionally, but I NEVER remember to bring a travel mug on those days. Must be better! I feel so guilty every time I get a disposable cup (even though I do try to recycle it!).

Advertisements

make your own salad bar!

I love a salad bar as much as the next self-respecting veggie, but a) going out to lunch is expensive, and b) salad bars seem so germy! Shudder. What I love about them, though, is having all those OPTIONS. It is so much more fun to compile a salad with dabs of everything, isn’t it?

So, I decided to create my own, so I could pack a yummy salad every day for lunch at the office, and I might just do this every week! First, I chopped up lots of veggies, salad size, and put them in containers. I dumped a few canned goods like marinated peppers and artichoke hearts into their own containers, too. I whipped up a yummy marinated bean salad. I even threw some sunflower seeds in a small container. Then I put all those small tupperwares into one large plastic tote with a snap lid. Here’s my “salad bar:”

IMG_1521

It fits nicely on the bottom shelf of my fridge so I can just grab the whole thing in the AM, and assemble a salad superquick. I even made some fast side salads with dinner during the week with it. Mix-and-match!

IMG_1522

Notice just above, I pre-washed varieties of greens and mixed them together in a plastic container (the kind you buy bulk spinach in – just wash between uses). With a few paper towels in there the greens stayed fresh all week.

Do you love seeing what’s in people’s fridges? Welp here’s mine just for fun.

IMG_1523

I use a bento box or a large, flat glasslock container (depending on what’s clean) to pack my salad. Then all the juicy stuff stays separate until ready to mix together and eat! I use silicone cupcake cups, small jars, etc in addition to the little plastic bento containers. It’s like food Tetris! IMG_1463Have fun playing with your food!

operation: get hot. hawaii-bound edition. week 1 recap.

A week ago I started on my goal to get superhot for Hawaii. I’m basking in some week 1 success, and rewarded myself with a very NON sugar free Peppermint Mocha from Starbucks today because, get this, scale says I am down 6lbs! I’m guessing about 4 of those pounds are water weight, because I don’t feel like my clothes are any looser. When I lost 6lbs on Weight Watchers, I could tell. Ya know? So, I’m trying to be realistic here, be proud of myself but not get too cocky, because week 2 will probably be a little different. I have no delusions that I’ll be losing 6lbs a week and looking like an Olsen twin by week 5.

Here’s what made the week easier {and dare I say…fun}:

  • Planning and being excited about trying new recipes.
  • I haven’t counted a single calorie. I just went to the gym a few times, snacked when I was hungry, but avoided starches and {added} sugar. Since I don’t really eat much meat, I mainly filled up on veggies {salads and soups}, fruit, eggs, nuts, & yogurt. Did gorge myself on turkey burger lettuce wraps a few times though – YUM! When the food is GOOD it’s really not that hard to skip the plate of pasta. Yet.
  • Drank lots of water & tea.
  • Learning to do Bento boxes. It’s so fun! And there are so many blogs about Bento! Here’s my second Bento attempt {spinach quiche, apples, raw veggies, edemame}. Not cute. But delicious! Admittedly all I’m doing is just transporting food in smaller portions for lunch. But that in itself is a great thing!
  • Realizing I haven’t been feeling nauseous after I eat.. the entire week! This is kind of a huge deal.

This week I plan to just keep it up and see how it goes. Might do something a little more exciting with the Bento box.

A quote:

Instead of giving myself reasons why I can’t, I give myself reasons why I can.

-unknown

beginner bento

I’ve always thought Bento boxes were the cutest thing, and have always wanted to make them. I mean, hell-O! Little equals cute. Rice balls in the shape of Hello Kitty? TINY containers? It’s origami food! Sign me up! Of course, it’s a kid thing, kinda-sorta. And I don’t have a kid to pack a cute lunch for. But they are super awesome for adults anyway. They don’t have to be all for cute factor, like these:

Source.

Bah! I die. I am dead. Cute overload.

Anywho. I decided to spring for one and give it a shot. I got the Laptop Lunches box. It’s totally cute {but tiny! whoa!}. Super good quality. I received it today, but I’ve been reading about Bento for a few days. Lots of perks. First, I pack lunches anyway. So this way it’d all be in a nice-neat container in the office fridge.

Second, they are GREEN! No extra packaging. BPA-free and you’re golden. No baggies, no plastic forks {they generally come with real silverware}. I LOVE THIS. Because even though I’m a responsible Earth citizen at home, I am ashamed to say it kind of goes out the window at the office. I still recycle paper and aluminum, but I go through my share of plastic silverware and paper plates and bowls.  I feel guilty every time I toss something in my trash can.

Third, I’m on Operation: get hot. Hawaii edition. {I’m sorry I am lame and name everything. If I don’t make it a big production I tell everyone about I will be eating donuts two-fisted within days. It’s true.} This is a great lesson in portion control. Plus it takes planning. Again, that is my secret to success. Lots and lots of planning.

Here was my first attempt. This one’s a bit heavy on the dairy because I didn’t have any pre-cooked chicken or tofu or anything, and I’m trying to avoid flour and starches. We’ve got: salad with cherry tomatoes, Feta cheese, and kalamata olives {balsamic vinegar & olive oil in the littlest container}; carrots and celery; apples and a baby bell Gouda; yogurt with walnuts and flax seed meal.  It’s not really super artsy and cute, but I think it’s still really pretty and appetizing.

Maybe the food gives you an idea of how small this is. Like those baby carrots are standard baby carrots and they look HUGE in that tiny container. Same with the walnuts. That apple is a tiny one from our tree. Little.

Can’t wait to try some really FUN Bento meals and share with you. Next week’s menu will definitely include a few of these. Do you Bento?