Lately I have become very food-aware. I think it is the fact that this is my last year into my 20s that has triggered this transition from midnight kebabs to packed lunchboxes.
Recently, it came to my attention that you can be too food-aware and reach the limits of orthorexia (by the way this is a greek word that means eating correctly). I am not there yet but I do feel really bad about my body and health when I have the random takeaway.
I try to eat my 5 a day without a miss every day. Lunch is an important part of my day. Even though I have a full-time job that is quite far from home (about an hour each way), I like to cook every night and then pack half the portion for next day’s lunch.
After an exhausting summer of running to the supermarket every evening, having food spills in my bag on a daily basis and carrying enormous bags with me every morning, I think I have finally reached a balance point so here are my best tips for you:
#1 Pick your lunch box carefully
I used to carry around an old plastic tupperware that I found in a random drawer and did not smell very badly. Well, I have changed my mind since then!
While googling cute lunchboxes so that I would not do the walk of shame every time I un-pack my lunchbox, I found out that my random tupperware had the potential of being really dangerous (some keywords to avoide: BPA, PETA, PVC).
But even if a plastic tupperware is BPA-free, it does not mean that the product is harmless. The researchers found that over 90 percent of the tested products – many of which were BPA-free – leached chemicals that can act as endocrine disruptors.
To the best of my knowledge there are two solutions: either glass or stainless steel. Now I know a pyrex may be a bit heavy for your everyday bag; that’s why I gravitated towards the idea of stainless steel tupperware.
The pros of a stainless steel solution mainly focus around it being safe (nothing contradicts it so far!) and relatively light-weight.
The cons are that they are more expensive than the average plastic option, there is limited variety and you need to look carefully for one that will not leak liquids (it will normally state this in the description). Also, you will hardly find any stainless steel boxes with multiple compartments that are leak free at the same time. I have heard very good things about Ecolunchbox-es (even though I have not tried them out myself yet!)
Finally, think again before you place a stainless steel box in the microwave. This means that if you want to warm up your lunch, you will need to transfer everything on a plate.
If you still insist on a plastic lunchbox, make sure it states clearly that it is free from as many of the afore-mentioned keywords as possible and potentially that it is FDA-approved.
#2 Cook a generous portion for dinner and pack half for your lunch
Self-explanatory and you are probably already doing this! The important bit here is to have everything ready (including all your snacks: nuts, fruit, yoghurt) so that there is minimum effort in the morning.
#3 Research your work environment
Is there a microwave? Can you borrow plates, forks, knives? If not you probably need to carry those as well. If there is no microwave, your recipes will be influenced. Below you will find recipes for both cases.
#4 Favourite lunchbox ideas
I have a microwave!
- frittata with veggies
- chicken and brussel sprouts
- salmon and broccoli
I don’t have a microwave!
- celery,carrot sticks, radish, tomatoes with home-made guacamole as a side dip
- greek salad
- green beans with soya sauce