10 of Our Favorite Tips for Packing & Transporting Lunch

April 12, 2016

Your soup sloshed over, your purse still holds trace scents of the Green Goddess dressing incident, and last night's spaghetti made a run for it with the meatballs straight into the bottom of your bag.

We've all been there, face to face with the reality of packed lunches that didn't quite make it. But just because you haven't had a great relationship with brown bag lunches in the past doesn't mean it's time to lose faith in them quite yet. Here are 10 of our favorite tips on packing and transporting lunch—and making the distance from point A to point B just a little less of a battlefield:

1. Turn last night's dinner into a sandwich for easier transportation (Spaghetti? Make a meatball sub! Shrimp salad? Shrimp sandwich!).

2. To pack a jar salad, start with your dressing as your base layer (no more salad-dressing-container-spilled-all-over-the-purse!), then layer it with the least absorbent components of your salad to create a barrier between the dressing and the more delicate leaves.

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3. For salad lunches, go for sturdy greens like kale and romaine that have a better chance of surviving room temperature until 12 o' clock.

4. If you're a fan of hot lunches, invest in a tiffin, then store your base grain or bread in the bottom layer, a salad or vegetables in the middle layer, and your hot dish in the top—the layered tiffin will keep everything fresh until lunchtime (and you can reheat only the layers you want).

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Top Comment:
“It seems like it would be hard to eat a salad out of a mason jar, especially if the dressing is at the bottom. ”
— Anna D.

5. If you have a four-story tiffin, pack something crispy in the top layer to add variety and texture to your lunch. It will stay crispy and sog-free up there, away from the rest of your meal.

6. When packing a sandwich that has vegetable components, like a banh mi, pack the vegetables in separate containers to add to your sandwich at work.

7. When packing separate containers of vegetables, it's okay to put everything in the same container, but make sure to put the vegetables that weep the most water (like cucumbers and tomatoes) at the bottom, and those that weep the least (herbs like cilantro) at the top of the container.

8. If you're daring enough to transport a soup in your bag, pack it in a mason jar with a slice of bread at the top, which will absorb liquid before it seeps out. When you serve yourself, pour your soup over your slice of bread—it will just add extra texture.

9. If possible, pack all of your soup components at home, but don't add the boiling water until you get the work. Think of it as a pack-your-own cup of noodles.

10. For safe egg transportation, cut off the last two egg cups from your container of a dozen, place one or two eggs inside, and secure with a rubber band.

What are your favorite tips for packing and transporting lunch? Tell us in the comments below!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Anna D
    Anna D
  • WoooPigSooie
  • Leslie Stephens
    Leslie Stephens
I eat everything.


Anna D. April 14, 2016
It seems like it would be hard to eat a salad out of a mason jar, especially if the dressing is at the bottom.
Leslie S. April 14, 2016
Once you get to work, just flip it directly into a bowl and the dressing will be on the top! Mason jar magic
WoooPigSooie April 12, 2016
Can you tell me what's on the toast in the first image??
Leslie S. April 12, 2016
Hi there! It's mushrooms and garbanzo on toast! https://food52.com/recipes/33513-mushrooms-and-garbanzos-on-toast-with-cider-and-thyme