As a defiant response to Sad Desk Lunches, the Food52 team works to keep our midday meals both interesting and pretty. Each week, we'll be sharing our happiest desk lunches -- and we want to see yours, too.
Today: Prep some basics on Sunday to make packing lunch a breeze for the whole week.
Though we enjoy throwing food together on the fly, sad desk lunches often result when not enough time has been put towards planning our midday meal. Let’s face it: Early mornings are not an inspiring time to plan your lunch.
But making a different dish for each day of the week can be cumbersome. Instead, make your work week easier and your lunches vastly better by taking an hour or so over the weekend to think ahead. Pull together some lunch staples, and you can mix and match ingredients all week.
Here are our favorite ways to get ahead on your weekdays before the week even starts:
- Start with starches. Make some basic brown rice on Sunday afternoon -- it will serve as a canvas for your lunches all week. Or you can go for some more dressed-up options, like cauliflower couscous, freekeh with fennel and mint, or orzo salad. These dishes keep well in the fridge and can be thrown into a salad, added to leftovers, or just eaten by themselves.
- You'll want some protein in your lunch, too -- make a batch of beans (hello, Taco Tuesdays!) or a few servings of green lentil salad. If you're feeling really ambitious, roast a chicken on Sunday night for an awesome week of lunches. Your coworkers will be super impressed.
More: Save those chicken bones, and make them into stock.
- Take your sandwiches to the next level by making your own bread. If stored correctly, it will last you all week. Bake a whole-wheat loaf, fluffy challah, or classic sandwich bread, and then make your coworkers jealous with your avocado toast or a gourmet turkey sandwich. And remember to wrap it up right.
- Now for the fun part: toppings. There are tons of make-ahead spreads to add to sandwiches, salads, or pasta -- like pesto, aioli, muhammara, and hummus (bonus: a lot of these can double as dips for office snacking). After you have the basics down, try some wilder options, like mint-pistachio pesto, beet hummus, and pimentón aioli. If you're a fan of good old PB&Js, try mixing things up by making your own nut butter.
- If you love a good salad for lunch, prep your dressing ahead of time. Throw together a red wine vinaigrette or sesame tahini dressing, or be a green goddess for the week. You don't have to limit these dressings to leafy greens -- they go well on roasted vegetables and grain salads, too.
- Last but certainly not least, don't forget lunch dessert!
What do you make ahead of time to prepare for weekday lunches? Tell us in the comments!