Last December, I decided to make few changes in my everyday life. One of them was to bring packed lunch to the office everyday - unless I had a lunch meeting, of course.
There are two main reasons why I decided to make this change. You see, I eat at my desk on most days and that usually means either getting some hawker food or using delivery apps to get my lunch. As much as I like hawker food, I am rather intolerant to MSG. To counter this reaction to MSG, I usually drink a can of coke while eating. Sounds like a good meal plan but, in the long run, that was not something I was looking forward to do.
As for the food delivery services... As much as they are convenient, they are certainly not environmentally friendly. And in both cases, I was not always in charge of what I was eating. Things needed to change; I wanted healthy food and I wanted to be able to have it at my desk and fully enjoy it. So, I set this goal for 2018 and I am happy to report that so far I have brought two sets of lunches and snacks (one for me, and one for my other half) packed from home everyday.
To make sure this habit will stick, I had to make the necessary preparations. So, yes, I made tons of research, read countless blog post, watched countless YouTube video from menu planning to unboxing containers, as well as followed lots of Instagram accounts showcasing homemade on-the-go meals. Reading, hearing, and watching made me realise how this simple change in my life is going to benefit my health, my bank account as well as the planet. And this made it easier for me to jump on-board the "lunchbox life".
What's not easy, at least in my opinion, was that as much as there are many resources talking about menu planning as well as kids lunchboxes, I found that there was really little out there to help you pick the right containers that work for my eating habits.
Here's the thing: Before you dive in into buying new containers or planning menu, I would highly recommend that you start by watching your own eating habits when in the office. I did that for about 2 weeks and noticed that on top of a full meal I needed lots of snacks. So, I would find myself at the 7-eleven next door picking up Reeses Peanut Butter Cups. I also enjoy a hot meal - especially during the rainy season. I am not good on surviving on salads alone as I rather find it difficult to eat in small containers and I like my salads with lots of extra stuff in it. So, by observing how I eat everyday, it made me more conscious of what I needed to sustain myself throughout the day.
In my case, I needed some mini containers for snacks, an insulated one to keep food warm, and deep round container to fit salads and pasta as well as a bento style one for when I am having a meal where the ingredients should be either mixed together just before eating or separated by categories. Last but not least, I also added to my list a bag to help me carry all of it.
Before shopping for new things, I also took an inventory of what I had at home that could serve those purposes. I strongly encourage you to first look in your kitchen and pull all the containers that you already have before hitting checkout.
I scouted many sites and read countless reviews before making any of those purchases I also knew that I wanted to stay clear from plastic ones as much as I could.
The following are the pieces that are now part of my lunch everyday - some of them are in my bags when I am out and about and need to have a snack... yes, I am a snacker (And so is my little one).
1. Food Flask Box Appetit by Black + Blum
As I said, I like to have a warm meal especially because I am often cold. I also find it rather comforting to do so when you are having a meal behind your screen. The food flask is great it keeps your food hot for a good 5 hours the wide neck makes it easy to eat a soup from it and the design is just simple yet practical. It takes a really good amount of food and my other half has not complain about feeling hungry while we pack a warm meal. It’s super solid and it doesn’t leak.I found this one while vacationing overseas and it’s probably one of my best find. I can’t recommend it enough.
2. Main meal boxes
Depending on what I pack in the morning, I needed a variety of container size but I don't want too many. So, this allows me to pack accordingly.
For salads and pasta or soupy noodles, I picked the 6cup from Lunchbots. It's deep enough that you won’t splash sauce all over your desk but also makes it easier to toss the dressing of your salads.
I picked the Ecolunch box 3 in 1 Bento that is ideal for the main in one container and the side on the other. Or a sandwich in one and chips in the other being entirely in stainless steel it makes it rather sleek looking as well. This particular model came with an extra small stainless box that I use for keeping a snack of dry goods.
For the days I pack curry's I got this cute Bento box from Bento & Co that is more traditional yet super practical and fun, we all have our own in the family.
As I said, I snack at least 3 times a day and more when I need to zone out and on a project. So, for me, it was important to start bringing more healthy choices in the office.
For dry goods, I use the Ecolunchbox in stainless steel the one that came with the set, when I want to mix fruits as well as dry nuts I use a traditional Japanese one as it has to compartment and makes it easy to keep on my desk and keep snacking.
For dips when I am more in the mood for carrot sticks I am super happy with the Lunchbots 8oz round, it doesn’t leak and doesn’t take much space.
Finally, a Mason that I already owned is my go-to for muesli, chia seed pudding, I prepare few in the fridge and take them out when needed.
One of my biggest concern is that all of the meals would clearly not fit in my handbags and I was also worried about leakage, hence I decided to splurge on a proper insulated lunch bag.
I needed the bag to be light but sturdy as well as convenient to carry in and out of the office. I also want it to be discreet - I didn’t want my lunch bag to scream lunch bag. My choice went for the Built NY in plain black neoprene. It does fit in a meal plus snacks and cutlery very nicely, but just for one person.
As I've mentioned before, I work with my other half and I bring two sets of lunchbox in the office so I had to purchase a slightly bigger one to carry both of our meals.
For condiments and sauce when I need any, I did manage to find some tiny containers from when my daughter was a toddler that I use, and I do keep glass containers in general so I had few small ones that came very handy to mix with my set of luchboxes.
Finally the little extra for the mums that are reading this. I found two lunchboxes for my daughter that I adore. The first one is the Yumbox. It is super practical for little ones as they see all their meal in one place versus opening lots of different compartment I even noticed that she manage to finish her lunch more often while using this one.
The second one is the Omielife. What got me interested in this one is the fact that you can still have a warm meal at school. I will recommend the Omielife to older kids as it’s a little bit more tricky to open and close.
So far, I have achieved my goals and not only do I fee better because I am eating healthier choices but my bank account is happier as well. So, yes, I did start by spending a little bit upfront but it did pay itself back in two weeks.
Now, I am a little too obsessed by the world of lunchbox and keep seeing nice pieces that I would love to add to my new collection but I am still trying to be very selective. The only thing I am missing is a container that will make it a little easier transporting chia seed pudding one side and liquids on the other.
If I find anything I will update this post.
PS: I have made all of my shopping on Amazon and most items do ship to Singapore, for the Yumbox you can go to Agape babies where it’s available locally.