Tips from The Kitchn

6 Smart Tips for Packing a Better Lunch

Image Credit: Faith Durand

Packing lunch should be a simple task, but it's actually one that isn't all that, well, simple. Between deciding what to pack, how to pack it, trying to prep ahead, packing something you actually want to eat, and of course, remembering to grab your lunch before heading out the door for the day, it can feel tough.

From prepping to packaging and storing, these six smart tips will get you on the road to packing a better lunch in no time.

1. Pack a lunch you actually want to eat.

I know, it seems obvious and should go without saying. You're packing lunch for a good reason, so make it something you want to eat, rather than a boring meal that's likely to get pushed to the back of the fridge and replaced with takeout.

And remember, it's a workday lunch, it doesn't have to be fancy. Make it a simple, non-messy affair you can unpack and easily eat at your desk.

2. The key to eating salad every day is to not eat the same salad every day.

Salad makes a reliable go-to lunch, but be sure to change it up and keep it from getting boring. The key to this is using different toppings. Focus on variety, and if you're prepping a week of salads ahead, cut enough of each topping for just a few, not all, of the salads.

3. Protect whole fruit from bumps and bruises by wrapping it in a cloth napkin.

A piece of fruit for a morning or afternoon snack is always a must for me. And, while it's easy to toss it in my purse or tote bag on the way out the door, there's a better way. A simple cloth napkin keeps fruit clean and protects it from getting roughed up.

Image Credit: Emma Christensen

4. Keep chopped apples and pears crisp by storing them in a container, covered with cold water.

When exposed to air, cut apples and pears oxidize, turn brown, and get soft. Not very appetizing. But storing them in a container, covered with water, is an easy way to prevent this. The fruit stays fresh, and is good to use on your lunchtime salad or afternoon snack.

5. Streamline lunch prep by dedicating a cabinet or drawer as your "lunch station."

Whether it's a kitchen cabinet, drawer, or space in the fridge, create an area to store lunch items. It helps to make lunch a grab-and-go affair.

6. Box up leftovers right after dinner, and always have back-up staples ready to go.

If you rely on leftovers for lunch, there's no need to wait until morning to put lunch together. Save time by portioning leftovers into containers right after dinner.

It's also helpful to keep some staple items — like hard-boiled eggs, beans, or nuts — handy for those times when there aren't enough leftovers for a full meal.