Food

How To Pack Lunch Like A Pro

Say goodbye to soggy sandwiches, mushy salads and stale snacks.

One of the biggest reasons so many of us are put off by a bagged lunch is that we haven’t figured out the best way to keep a particular food fresh; common blunders include packing it too early and using the wrong containers. Toronto-based Aviva Wittenberg has come up against almost every obstacle in nearly a decade of packing school lunches for her kids and work ones for herself. She started sharing her packing tips on Instagram and her self-titled food blog, and recently published Lunchbox with Penguin Random House, a cookbook that includes 75 recipes and years’ worth of secrets.

According to Wittenberg, there are only two key ingredients to a delicious packed lunch: planning ahead and investing in great gear. Here’s her best advice for A+ packing.

  • Use an insulated lunch bag and add an ice pack for cold foods, especially on warm days. Not all workplaces have refrigerators, and employers are legally only required to provide a break room, so it’s up to you to keep your food fresh. To avoid risk, the only two things Wittenberg doesn’t pack for lunch are sashimi and partially cooked eggs.
  • To keep baked and fried foods crispy, let them cool to room temp before packing them for lunch. If you’re short on time, pack warm, crispy food in a small paper bag and cut a few vents to allow heat to escape.
  • Prevent sandwiches from getting soggy by packing tomatoes, cheese, grilled vegetables and other similarly wet toppings on the side in a resealable pouch. Pop them in right before eating.
  • For salads that maintain their crunch, layer ingredients: heaviest on the bottom (beans, grains) and most delicate on the top (greens, herbs). Pack dressing and crispy toppings separately to mix in at lunchtime.
  • Keep hot foods hot by investing in a high-quality Thermos, ideally wide-mouthed and dishwasher safe. To warm it, fill with boiling water, let stand for 10 minutes and drain before filling with hot food.

 

Let’s Do Lunch

Technology has advanced, and so have lunch boxes. Here are some of our favourite picks

Bentgo Modern Lunch Box
Perfect for extra fruit for dessert or to separate greens or sides. It’s adjustable, microwaveable, dishwasher-safe and leak-
resistant. It also comes in five colours and has a matte finish, making it the designer’s dream lunch box. $35, bentgo.com.

Bentgo On-the-Go Salad Container
This all-in-one box is designed to separate dressing and toppings from greens without requiring multiple containers. It’s leakproof, mess-free and even comes with a reusable fork. $25, well.ca.

Kinto Day Off Tumbler
Kinto’s simple, no-fuss design comes in an array of gorgeous matte, muted colours and can keep beverages hot or cold for up to six hours. It’s also perfect for those prone to losing pieces; they sell replacement lids for every colour. $54, kinto-canada.ca.

Zwilling Thermo Food Jar
Zwilling’s engineering take on food storage is vacuum-insulated and can keep food piping hot or ice-cold for up to 11 hours. It’s dishwasher-safe and leakproof, and comes with a fold-out spoon and a lid that can be used as a bowl. $43, kitchenstuffplus.com.

a pink soft zip lunch box

Yeti Daytrip Lunch Box
This soft-shell box is pricey, but it comes with a three-year warranty and is made by one of the top names in outdoor gear. Its specialized foam insulation keeps food at a stable temperature for hours, and it features magnetic closures. $100, yeti.ca.

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