Recipes Photo Credit: Tracey Kusiewics

5 Genius Ways to Pack a Better Lunch

Ditch the brown paper bag and up your office lunch game with our creative cubicle-friendly recipes and tips.

Eating lunch at your desk gets a bad rep. But trust us, it can be a revelation. Here’s your playbook to eating healthy, tasty food with style as you crank out that killer set of blueprints or annual report.

1. We Propose a Toast

Sandwiches have long been a lunchtime staple, but the recent rediscovery of toast as a delivery vehicle for delicious ingredients has opened the door to mealtime possibilities beyond the ripe avocado; whether you call it an open-faced sandwich, toast or tartine, you can pile any number of tasty things on a single slice and call it lunch.

Left: Mashed avocado, roasted squash, pear, arugula, crumbled feta, almonds, togarashi and fried onions. Right: Brie, prosciutto, olives, roasted tomatoes, almonds and arugula.

Many arguments can be made in favour of the tartine over the two-slice sandwich: not only does it cut your bread consumption in half while exponentially increasing the bread-to-filling ratio, a tartine is nice to look at on the plate, its elements gently layered, unconfined by a lid. Two open slices seem like more than they do served pressed together—and if you pack the elements separately, you can easily assemble your lunch right before you eat it, eliminating forever the risk of a soggy sandwich.

When building your tartine, start with a foundation of good bread, then raid your fridge and pantry, considering flavours and textures, going for layers of creamy, crunchy and salty. On the base, you could start by smearing soft cheeses like goat, Boursin, ricotta or brie, ripe avocado, hummus, almond butter or even a layer of soft butter. Follow with thinly sliced cured meats like ham, salami or prosciutto, shredded chicken, good tinned tuna, thinly sliced cold steak or flaked salmon from last night’s dinner, or go veggie with cold roasted root vegetables or squash, roasted tomatoes, sliced avocado or sautéed mushrooms. Top with salty cheeses (shaved Parmesan or Gouda or crumbled feta), perhaps some peppery arugula or baby spinach, perhaps some briny olives, and something to add crunch, like thinly sliced radishes or sweet-tart apples, toasted almonds or pepitas. Grind over some salt and pepper and you’re good to go.

2. Have Salad, Will Travel

Cold-hardy kale does as well in the lunch box as it does in the garden—practically wilt-proof, it’s tamed by dressing, improving with time in the fridge. Thinly sliced Brussels sprouts—cousins in the brassica family—pair well with kale, or you could try adding some shaved fennel or bitter radicchio to the mix.

Recipe: Kale Salad with Grainy Mustard Dressing 

3. Get Lunch Done Like Dinner

Keeping future lunches in mind while preparing dinner will ensure you have some surplus cooked veggies, grains, pasta or pulses (beans, lentils and chickpeas) to use as a starting point. Don’t think of them as leftovers so much as your own homemade convenience food.

Recipe: Peanut Noodles with Chicken and Veggies

Recipe: Sheet-Roasted Salmon, Asparagus and Tomatoes

4. You’re Better Than Plastic

It’s not just that you’ll get your container confused with everyone else’s, and it’s not about that sneaking fear of what happens when plastic interacts with microwaves. It’s that bringing a small, manageable sense of occasion is never a bad idea.

In the Can

Klean Kanteen food canister (from $20),

Tin Soldier

The gentelmen’s hardware gold lunch box tin ($32),

5. Smelly Food Proximity Tool

No one’s saying you can’t bring that leftover trout almandine for lunch; you just need to know the limits of your olfactory footprint in order to be a good officemate.

Wasa Crispbread
Your coworker’s lap

Tinned tuna
2 cubicles

Hard-boiled egg
3 cubicles

Tinned salmon
4 cubicles


7 cubicles


10 cubicles


Only at home!

For more great lunch ideas, subscribe to the WL Daily!


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