As a real food practitioner and broke actress, I pack my food every single day when I go out. It’s become a daily habit. In fact, I think I’m completely incapable of leaving my house without packing SOMETHING, even if I know I’m going out with friends.
Bangin out my condiments at lunch with a friend
So, as an expert packer, I bring you some tips in case you need some motivation to pack your own food bag.
1. Do it the night before.
For real. If you leave it to the last minute, you will run out of time. Plus, if you haphazardly throw together something, it ain’t gonna be good. And ya not gonna want to eat it. Before bed, put together your fabulous meal so you can grab and go in the morning, hassle free.
Lunch on go on Greyhound travel day. Fish, guac, and vege.
2. Spend a couple hours each week doing a “meal prep.”
I know it’s daunting, and none us have the time to cook. But.
If it’s important to you, you MAKE the time. I used to tout the “I don’t have time to cook” mindset. I would be gone from my apartment ALL day, from sunrise (sometimes leaving at 4:30am or 5am) to go to an open call, then the gym, then work, then home, rolling in at 11:30 or 12p). I KNOW. New Yorkers lead a crazy life. New York ACTORS live an insane life.
….but. WHEN you prioritize home/cooking time, life gets so much easier. So much HEALTHIER. So much more badass. And let me tell you from experience; when you break out your delicious, beautiful packed lunch, wherever you are, people will come up to you and drool and compliment you on how amazing you are and be super jelz. Just a lil added perk.
Organizing the prep for optimal grab and go potential
Also, did I mention, packed lunches are cheaper? Yeah, no more spending money on $12 salads, cause you got your #BAS (Big Ass Salad, thanks Jillfit), for half that.
ANYWAY, all that to say, prioritize at least ONE NIGHT a week or ONE AFTERNOON or ONE LEISURE MORNING, to prep your proteins and your plants. Here’s what you can do in a dedicated evening:
-Boil a dozen eggs
-Roast a chicken, and/or bake some fish, and/or fry some chicken
-Put some chilli in a slow cooker or saute some ground beef with your favorite spices.
-Bonus: have some high quality deli meat on hand (I like Applegate Deli); some tuna/salmon cans- Trader Joes FTW; and/or good quality, soy-free jerky
-Cut up raw veggies like carrot, cucumber, bell pepper.
-Roast a big batch of Sweet potato, brussels sprouts, squash, carrots, or broccoli (any root vegetable you want)
-Make a batch of caulirice or caulimash
-Then of course, have your bananas and apples
-Have a shton of avocados on hand
-Drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar on stuff (that’s what I do, but making salad dressings are easy. It’s also getting easier and easier to buy clean salad dressings. Try PaleoChef.)
-Almond Butter for dipping
-Olives to throw on top of raw veggies (telling you, fill a mason jar with yellow bell pepper + cucumber + olives + a pinch of salt/pepper. Divine.)
-Tahini (miss hummus if your paleo? mix equal parts tahini, water, and lemon juice, season with salt, pepper, and garlic/paprika and your golden. Dip cucumber, carrot and/or smear on some applegate turkey.)
Roasting is seriously my favorite hobby
3. Pack something you are looking forward to eating
The thought of plantains get me through a day
Guys, real, whole food is delicious. Trust me. But you don’t have to have eat bland, dry chicken breast over leafy, undressed rabbit food, with a side of steamed broccoli (though, personally, I do love simple steamed broccoli). But really! If it ain’t your thing, find the food (REAL food), you love. And cook with fats and spices. If you look in my spice cabinet, it is over FLOWING. Ask my roommates. I have a TON, and they’re easy to grab. I love making spice blends or just simply using salt (big salt fan here. And the best thing is when you cut out factory foods, which has so much bad-for-you sodium, you now get to add salt to everything, no issue. Just make sure it’s not table salt (which has sugars). I like Celtic Sea Salt for all the time use. I also use different salt blends, to cook with or finish with. Check out the recipe for my absolute FAVORITE salt blend, called Magic Mushroom Powder).
Bottom line. Spices + Fat = Flavor. Do not be afraid.
4. Make the actual packaging user friendly AND a pleasure to eat from.
I have two little glass containers that are such a JOY to eat from. They’re pretty and if I need to nuke them, I can no problem. What I do is- put a couple little freezer packs in plastic bag and throw in the bottom of my backpack. Wrap my containers in a dish cloth (Ikea in case you’re wondering), throw them in a bag and shove in the bottom of my pack on top of the freezer pack. Donzo.
If my bag is full with audition/gym stuff, I’ll break out my Trader Joes lunch box. And carry it around like a boss.
5. Bonus: How to be a coffee and tea road warrior
If you’re dairy free, pack your dairy alternative creamer (in my case, full fat coconut milk) in a little container and/or a baggie of tea bags (Starbucks will usually let you have hot water for free). HOWEVER, if you buy coffee while out and about in NYC, go to Joe’s Coffee or Culture. They use the absolute BEST almond milk (Callifia Farms. So. Good.) you can buy. It’s as clean as you can go without making your own. And their espresso is out of this world. And their baristas are actually pros and know how to steam/foam non-dairy milk. Which is a skill, let me tell YOU.
Tea for everyone!
Finally, check out these goddesses below for some expert lunch packing advice…
Michelle Tam, at Nom Nom Paleo, talking packing a lunch like a boss.
Melissa Joulwan, from Clothes Make the Girl, details how she does her weekly cook up.
That’s it! Any more tips? Share below!
Now pack and prosper…