Lunchboxes

ftsolk
ftsolk Posts: 202 Member
So, I've been MIA for a while, and I'm not sure if I'm officially "back", but I'm here for now.

Recently, I've been realizing that I have an addictive personality in conjunction with some black and white thinking. Because of this, I've realized that calorie counting has the potential to hurt me more than it helps. I will either go to one extreme and restrict calories too far (even if it's unintentional- such as not eating if I don't know the exact calorie count of a dish), or I will give up entirely and binge after a time of restriction. In either case, the result is the same: I don't lose weight.

So, I'm trying to find ways to cut back on calories/portions without feeling deprived. This means no diet plans where I restrict any foods- though I am making some minor changes.

One of my problems is that, even though I work in a grocery store, my lunch schedule is very sporadic. Lately, I tend to get a 30 minute lunch break on 3-4 of the 5 days I work, but that isn't always the case. I start my shift between 9:30am and 11am, and get out by 5pm. I eat breakfast before work (usually around 8-9am depending on when I have to be at work). Sometimes, breakfast is leftovers. Other times, I'll spread peanut butter and jelly on a couple Van's Multigrain waffles, and serve it with a glass of organic whole milk and some fruit.

Lunch is between 1:30pm and 3pm on average if I get a 30 minute break. If I only have a 15 minute break, then lunch is typically smaller and closer to 4pm. I've managed to adjust to this, and I'll usually eat lunch earlier if I'm feeling hungrier. Unfortunately, this isn't always possible on busy days.

My sporadic lunch schedule also means dinner can be a little sporadic. Depending on my social calendar, I may go over to a friends' house for dinner or to babysit after work. During the typical school year, I have church 3 evenings a week. On alternating Wednesdays, I go out for dinner after church with a friend, and on the two other days, there are snacks/desserts that end up subbing in as dinner since I'm often out past midnight. Some nights, I eat dinner around 6 or 7pm. Other nights, I don't eat until close to 10.

I thought the one thing that I might be able to do to help me would be to get better at packing my lunch for work. Even though I work at a grocery store, if I wait to buy something at work, I'm likely to make some poor choices- like having half a tub of hummus with pretzel chips.

I'm just not quite sure about lunch containers. My ideal packed lunches change, so I definitely need some ideas. I'd love some kind of modular lunch system where I can mix and match the containers depending on what I want to pack- with the individual containers being microwave safe. (I also need to be able to pack a thermos in case I decide to pack soup or something similar- especially on a day I only have 15 minutes to eat).

To give an idea of some of the things I like packing in lunches (not all at once- obviously)

-Mac and cheese with hot dogs (and often spinach/broccoli)
-Roasted chicken sausage with veggies (broccoli, carrots, asparagus, bell peppers, sweet potatoes)
-Chicken wings (buffalo with ranch; honey mustard; Frank's Sweet Chili)
-Chicken drumsticks with the second two sauces listed above
-Chobani yogurt with peanut butter
-Cream cheese and olive dip with wheat thins
-Hummus with whole wheat pita bread or pretzel chips
-"Lunchable" cracker stackers (cheese, meat, crackers)
-Fresh fruit
-Raw veggies with dip
-Ants on a log
-Sandwiches
-Giant salads (only on days I get 30 minutes to eat, and I have a container for those).

The other day for lunch, I packed a Chobani Plum yogurt, a container of peanut butter, grapes, and buffalo flavored chicken from the deli. I also added a Suja Midday Thrive Greens juice from Target. For beverages, I usually just drink water or flavored seltzer, but occasionally, I do enjoy a juice (Naked, Bolthouse Farms, Suja), a cup of organic whole milk (especially with PB&J), or a bottle of Synergy Kombucha.

So, what kind of lunchbox systems do you use for yourself or for your kids? I've been using Easy Lunchboxes containers for a few years now, but I find that they aren't really working for me anymore. Often, I want to pack a warm main course (say, the chicken sausage with roasted veggies) with some fruit and nuts as a side, but there's no way to just microwave the larger section of the container and not the smaller two.

I keep looking at LunchBlox by Rubbermaid, but I'm not sure if those are flexible enough for me (and I don't really need the ice block most of the time), or Laptop Lunches, but I'm interested in other ideas as well.

Thanks for the help!
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Replies

  • jaga13
    jaga13 Posts: 1,149 Member
    I think you are over-thinking this. Buy a lunch box large enough to fit your food and an ice pack. I have a cheap one from the drug store.
  • strong_curves
    strong_curves Posts: 2,229 Member
    Often, I want to pack a warm main course (say, the chicken sausage with roasted veggies) with some fruit and nuts as a side, but there's no way to just microwave the larger section of the container and not the smaller two.

    Why not pack it separately? The stuff that you want to heat doesn't have to be in the same container as the non heat foods.
  • ashleypetrie4
    ashleypetrie4 Posts: 119 Member
    Iso Fitness lunch bags are great! They come with various sized containers and fit multiple meals and drinks. They are a bit on the pricey side though.
  • DeguelloTex
    DeguelloTex Posts: 6,658 Member
    Or dump the fruits and nuts onto a paper towel before you nuke the chicken.
  • jemhh
    jemhh Posts: 14,262 Member
    I use a thirty-one brand thermal tote and a variety of Rubbermaid and Noosa yogurt containers plus ziplock baggies. The bag is plenty big enough for all of my food plus I put in two big ice packs. Today I have 2 eggs, a chicken breast, a Noosa container full of cottage cheese, a full bell pepper, 300 grams of strawberries, and two granola bars.

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  • Hjones2889
    Hjones2889 Posts: 94 Member
    pack everything that needs to be warmed in 1 container and everything else in a separate one.
  • WBB55
    WBB55 Posts: 4,131 Member
    I like the lock-n-lock and/or Sistema containers for my lunches in a thermal sack. No leaks. Various sizes. Some are even partitioned. If I pack my food the night before and store it in the fridge, I typically don't even really need to add an ice pack or fridge if I know I'll get to it within 6 hours or so (depending on what I pack).

    I travel a lot on the weekends and pack 2-3 days worth of food quite regularly in thermal lunch bags. I don't always have a fridge, and I seem to not be dead yet.
  • dolliesdaughter
    dolliesdaughter Posts: 544 Member
    edited July 2015
    I have been using the same insulated bag for at least 8 years and I have glass dishes with rubber lids. Nothing fancy, it keeps my lunch cold and out of the petri dish that is called the "work refrigerator". I have 2 ice packs.

    BTW I don't understand why folks put insulated bags in the refrigerator??? Isnt the point of an insulated bag is to use instead or when a refrigerator is not available???? Just sayin.
  • jemhh
    jemhh Posts: 14,262 Member
    I put mine in the fridge if I didn't grab an ice pack in the morning.
  • janejellyroll
    janejellyroll Posts: 25,763 Member
    I have been using the same insulated bag for at least 8 years and I have glass dishes with rubber lids. Nothing fancy, it keeps my lunch cold and out of the petri dish that is called the "work refrigerator". I have 2 ice packs.

    BTW I don't understand why folks put insulated bags in the refrigerator??? Isnt the point of an insulated bag is to use instead or when a refrigerator is not available???? Just sayin.

    If it will be several hours until you eat it, an insulated bag won't ensure food safety without an ice pack.
  • ftsolk
    ftsolk Posts: 202 Member
    I have been using the same insulated bag for at least 8 years and I have glass dishes with rubber lids. Nothing fancy, it keeps my lunch cold and out of the petri dish that is called the "work refrigerator". I have 2 ice packs.

    BTW I don't understand why folks put insulated bags in the refrigerator??? Isnt the point of an insulated bag is to use instead or when a refrigerator is not available???? Just sayin.

    Sometimes, there are cases where I will have to go several hours between leaving my house and arriving at work, so I'll use an ice pack in those cases. However, at work, I prefer to keep my food in a refrigerator. I'm not going to unpack my insulated lunch tote just to put it in the fridge. The way I see it, the insulated tote will work for me in any situation- whether I'm packing lunch for work to keep in a fridge, or I'm going out for the day, and don't want to stop for fast food or starve. When I worked Sundays, I often packed dinner for work. I'd eat breakfast and lunch at church, but I kept my dinner in my lunchbag with a couple ice packs because it would be sitting in my car for several hours. Once at work, the lunchbag went straight into the fridge.


    I have tried using multiple little containers in a bag, but I don't really like that. I can never find the container I need, and I don't have a ton of storage space for lunch containers. That's why something like the Laptop Lunches System appeals to me. I can fit the multiple smaller containers in the larger one as needed, pull out the hot food to reheat, and it will help me keep portions in check since even the largest container is only so-big.

    Yet, if needed, I can also just use one or two of the lidded containers outside of the carrying box if I want to pack something in my thermos, or if I need to pack an extra snack (say, some peanut butter in one small container, some blueberries in a medium one, and a cup of Chobani yogurt).
  • DKG28
    DKG28 Posts: 299 Member
    i pack lunch every day. I have 1 and 2 cup size pyrex glass containers with lids, and dollar store shallow square microwaveable and freezable containers that fit everything from sandwiches to leftover dinners perfectly. I usually pack one of each - one for wet food, one dry food, or one hot/one cold. works for me. As long as I can find one bigger and one smaller container, that's usually what I need. I fix the bigger, shallow containers like I would fix a plate, and just pack runny or saucy things separately.
  • ftsolk
    ftsolk Posts: 202 Member
    The other thing I'm really liking about Laptop Lunches is that I can have it configured so most of my meal is available upon opening the main compartment. I only have 15 to 30 minutes for lunch, so the fewer lids to open and close, the better!
  • rainbowbow
    rainbowbow Posts: 7,490 Member
  • Need2Exerc1se
    Need2Exerc1se Posts: 13,576 Member
    My lunch box is a cheap soft side 6-pack cooler. It has one of those frozen cold pack things, but I rarely use it. I also just use cheap Rubbermaid type containers and pack things that need heated separate from things that dont. If I bring a salad, I pack the dressing in a separate container so the lettuce doesn't get wilty from being wet too long.
  • Gska17
    Gska17 Posts: 752 Member
    I love my LunchBlox, I carry them to work nearly every day. I bought this to carry them in:

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00QHO4ZZY?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o03_s00

    It's a large enough bag to add in another snack or soda. Good luck!
  • LianaG1115
    LianaG1115 Posts: 453 Member
    I use Fit and Fresh lunch boxes with the containers that have little ice packs that fit into the container tops and also have the rectangular thin ice pack that fits inside too. Amazon shopping rocks for this stuff!!
  • ftsolk
    ftsolk Posts: 202 Member
    I just bought a new lunchbag at Costco that's expandable, so it should fit my lunch whether I just use one multi section container or pack a lunch and a snack or drink.

    I'm definitely leaning towards Laptop lunches over Lunchblox. I saw both in stores, and I liked the Laptop lunches better. It's versitile, but it keeps potions in check, and the overall system has the same footprint in the lunchbox regardless of configuration. The same cannot be said for Lunchblox
  • Psychgrrl
    Psychgrrl Posts: 3,177 Member
    I use various size pyrex containers in a rolling cooler.
  • brendak76
    brendak76 Posts: 241 Member
    I used laptop lunchboxes for my kids for a couple of years and really disliked them. This was a while back so maybe they have a new system now. The lid for the small container for dips and sauces always came off and leaked. And I couldn't pick things like a whole apple. It wouldn't fit. An entire sandwich wouldn't fit either. The water bottle leaked. Nothing that was supposed to work in the system actually worked for me. Not to mention it was very difficult to clean.

    I'm a big fan of lock and lock though. If I want something hot I'll put it in the microwave and if I want it cold I'll use an ice pack or something. Most things I don't mind at room temperature.