This blog has MOVED!

Please visit for the most updated content. All these posts and more can be found over at the new URL.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Introduction to: What's for lunch?

An introduction to a series of posts that you will see over time. (Yes, this is endurance ride relevant - think of packing food for endurance rides like packing a series of lunches)

This question has vexed me most of my life - at least since my mom stopped packing a paper bag lunch with a marker picture on it, sometime in high school.

I'm notorious about "forgetting" to pack a lunch. I'm not hungry, actually borderline nauseous, most mornings and I'm not sure what miracle I expect to occur once lunch time rolls around and I'm at work or school. That since I'm not hungry in the morning I won't be at noon? That somehow the random banana and other carby thing that I did throw in the backpack will take me until 6p? That manna from the sky will rain down at an opportune moment full of nutritious goodness?

Needless to say, I end up VERY hungry, read to consume whatever happens to come across my path whether it's pizza at a lunch meeting, fast food milkshakes and fries on the way home, or cookies out of the vending machine. It costs me money, it costs my nutrition, and it costs me my health. Not to mention that eating junk and/or not eating at all during the day caused me to overeat during dinner.

Switching to a mainly protein and vegetable based diet and eliminating most non-fruit or lactose based carbs just complicated the issue. Some people can pack a salad and eat it for lunch, but the idea repulsives me --> salad for dinner yes, salad for lunch no. It's amazing how hard a lunch is to pack without the use of bread, processed food, that doesn't lean too heavily on any one food group (too much fruit, or too much cheese etc.).

Starting vet school a year ago didn't help and contributed to the issue. I'm less active, have less money, less time, and less energy to devote to my nutritional needs and packing a lunch that works.

Last year, my first year in vet school, was an experiment in lunch failure. I tried brining left overs each day. I tried bringing a whole bag of groceries and just keeping food at school. For various reasons, none of these options worked and I ended the year heavier than I had ever been.

Over the summer my cousin posted a link on facebook that completely changed how I looked packing lunches and packing meals in general. It was a smug mug album of lunches packed in divided containers. A light bulb went on! This would really work!

I've employed this system over the summer while commuting and working full time. It's worked like a charm. In the last 2 months I've lost over 9 pounds. I've managed to bring a lunch every single day, and my nutrition is more balanced and consistent than it has ever been.

Here's why I think this system works for me:

-Packing a predetermined container makes sure I bring the right amount of food. The container holds 500-700 calories generally - enough to keep me full from breakfast to dinner.

-Having all my food layed out and easily seen. It's impossible for me to only pack fruit because it's easy for me to see visually that I'm missing a main dish or protein. This is especially important for me to remember as I'm packing for an endurance ride.

-It makes it easy for me to bring food that comforms to my "dietary rules" and avoid the more processed food and carbs.

-I actually eat everything I bring instead of eating my favorite parts and ignoring the squished, slightly warm celery sticks at the bottom of of the lunch sack.

-This system makes it very easy for me to pack several lunches at a time, saving time.

This isn't just for lunches!!!!!

This works for ANY event that is going to require you to bring meals. Endurance rides? Easily package meals this way and throw in the ice chest. Having a variety of food that is easily accessible during vet checks is the only way I can consume enough calories. Bluegrass festivals? Travelling and odn't want to be at the mercy of fast food? Packaging your meals like this will make sure you bring enough food, and make it easily accessible without thinking - you preplanned that the amount of kinds of food when you were sane and not overcome with tiredness, fatigue, and hunger.

My hope is that by regularly posting some examples of some of my lunches, I can inspire someone to move on from the boring sandwich/salad/apple meals on the go. Save some money, eat how you really want, and eliminate the hassels of trying to feed yourself during events. This is the longest post since I wanted to provide some background. Important concepts to keep in mind as we explore the world of the reformed lunch are:

-Calories in my lunch box meals are typically 500-800 calories or so. This works perfectly with my average breakfast and dinner meals, but you may want to adjust accordingly

-The composition of my meals is typically wheat and yeast free and lower in carbs, higher in fat. Again, this are just suggestions so you should adjust to your preferences!

-If you have an especially inspiring lunch, especially if it works for ride food, please send a picture!


This is a example of the type of container that I use (was able to find it at Target) except mine is a ziploc brand:





  1. I am a "good" eater and would die without a regular lunch! I am a teacher and find it impossible to go out for lunch so I bring my lunch five days a week.

    I LOVE protein and fruits/vegies, and find that I have more energy if I eat this way. My coworkers tease me because I eat the same lunch virtually every day: a pre-packaged cheese (string, laughing cow, or mini bells), crackers (preferably triskits), yogurt, fruit in season (banana, cuties, grapes, apples, strawberries, etc.). Sometimes I throw in an extra: carrot sticks, raisins, hard boiled egg, or a handful of cereal for crunch.

    I start the day with an egg and an English muffin (usually), I have some cheese mid-morning, the above lunch, and on my way to or from the barn I eat another cheese, an apple, or a slice of bread with peanut butter.

    I cook dinner each night which varies hugely. Last night I made coconut curry chicken over white rice with grilled snow peas on the side. Later this week I have planned chicken parmesan over bow tie pasta with a side salad.

    Having "fresh" food in the 'fridge that you can grab and toss in your lunch pail makes it easy to pack even when you're not hungry. I frequently baggie up carrot sticks or grape piles so that they're ready several days in advance. Even better, I buy the carrot sticks in the snack packs. Sometimes the grab and go packaged fruits and veggies might seem expensive, but if you actually grab them on the go and consume them, it's far healthier and cheaper than grabbing a bag of chips from the vending machine (as you already know)!

    Good luck with your plan! I love to eat, and eating healthier food makes it possible to eat more! :0) I'll be interested to hear what other options you come up with.

  2. My breakfast is a hardboiled egg and dinner is generally a salad (when I'm home by myself), or something similar to my main dish in the lunch (when my boyfriend is home) with typically one veggetable side. Tongiht I'm having homemade saurkraut with onions, apples, and sausage (it's a hot dish) and that will probably be it.

    I love food, love eating etc, but even with that it's important to how I eat that my food is organized and "pretty". If it doesn't look appetizing, even if I brought it from home, the temptation to go to the school cafe and get a burger instead is really really great. :)

  3. You would probably freak out about some of my meals then. I am kind of a load it into one bowl girl. If appearance affects your appetite, compartments is definitely the way to go. :0)

  4. You've completely inspired me! Only someone with a crazy schedule like you *gets* how important convenience is.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.