If you are a parent, you can easily recite the reason you pack your kids’ lunches every day: Brown-bagging it means that you can ensure healthy, balanced meals – and save money too. An added bonus is that you assemble those midday meals with love, making sure to include a few favorite goodies to show how much you care. If that’s the case, then why not take the time to bring your own meal to the office? Here are five ways to turn a kid-friendly spread into a meal fit for any adult:
1. It’s all in the bread
Your daughter may be adamant about PB&J on white, but that doesn’t mean you can’t prepare your sandwiches with a variety of breads, including pita, whole wheat roles, bagel, or Kaiser buns. The same filling can taste dramatically different on decidedly grown-up rye or a croissant.
2. Dress it up
If you’re making a tuna sandwich for your kids, throw in some chopped walnuts and apples for your own. Add sautéed peppers and sun dried tomatoes for the heat-up-and-serve pasta marinara you pack for them or top a cheese sandwich with sour cream and salsa. Sending the kids off with popcorn as a snack? Add some Cajun spices for your own version.
3. Use grown-up condiments
Just because your son likes mayo on his turkey doesn’t mean that you’re stuck with it, too. Try some honey mustard or cranberry relish on a smoked turkey sandwich for a distinctly epicurean taste. Local gourmet stores often stock uncommon toppers, including everything from Thai peanut sauce to Indian curry. While kids usually prefer to stick with what they know, adults know that variety is the spice of life – and of lunch.
4. Take a treat
No man (or woman) can live by bread alone. Make sure to include a snack or dessert that you love, whether it’s a package of sweet potato chips or almond biscotti to dip in your afternoon coffee. Packing at least one favorite item can keep you from feeling deprived.
5. Keep linen napkins, a glass goblet, and real silverware in the office
Restaurant-quality accoutrements make dining at work a little more civilized. The benefit? Less co-worker envy as they head out for lunch and you’re stuck at your desk. Also, “setting a table” will make you linger just a bit longer over your meal.