Fall is just around the corner — and with the change in season comes not only preparing for the colder months ahead, but getting back into a routine with your family. From hearty yet healthy recipes that will delight even the pickiest eater to tips on how to make your home more comfortable, Canadian Tire is making sure you’re Ready For everything the season has in store.
For many people, summer, plus a drastic shift to working from home, has undoubtedly knocked regular lunchtime routines way off course.
However, with fall approaching and kids heading back to school, it’s a perfect time to get back into brown-bagging it. By that, we mean prepping and packing lunches again. Kids aren’t the only ones returning to some semblance of normalcy in September, either. Employees may start trickling back into offices come fall, meaning you can no longer simply whip up a quick lunch in the comfort of your own kitchen during the day.
Get a headstart on impressing your colleagues and peers with stellar home-cooked lunches using our foolproof tips for making lunchtime meal prep easy... and dare we say, fun?
1. Stock up on Tupperware and lunch totes
Lunches look far more appetizing when they aren’t mangled in a Ziplock bag.
Before you get cooking, it’s important to stock up on the vessels that will transport your meals safely to school and/or work. To ensure freshness and avoid leaks, Glasslock Food Storage Containers are a great option. They’re microwave safe, BPA-free and are available in a variety of sizes to carry your main meal as well as snacks. This Starfrit Lock & Lunch Kit is another, with easy locking lids that make them perfect for kids.
If you’re in the market for a new lunch tote, the Thermos® Duffle Lunch Tote has a sleek design and is made of insulating foam to keep your lunches fresher longer.
2. Get inspired at your local farmer’s market
One of the best ways to get recipe inspiration is to see what produce is available locally. Hit your neighbourhood farmer’s market and check out what’s in season. If it’s apple season, you might be inspired to make an Apple Grilled Cheese with Turkey, Cheddar, and Apple Butter. That certainly beats PB and J on Wonder Bread.
Farmer’s markets are also great sources for locally produced honey, jams, jerkies, pickled vegetables and dried fruits that can help make your packed lunches worth looking forward to.
3. Get the right kitchen tools and equipment
If you don’t have the right tools and equipment, you won’t be motivated to prepare meals. Dull knives, a lack of pots and pans and constantly improvising to peel and process ingredients will send you running back to microwave lunches and takeout in no time flat.
Start with the basics and make sure you have a good cookware set. The PADERNO Hard Anodized Non-Stick Cookset,12-pc is a reasonably priced set that includes all the essentials. A food processor is also a great piece of equipment that you’ll use consistently for soups and sauces. We recommend the easy-to-use and low-maintenance Ninja® Professional Food Processor to make blending and chopping your ingredients a breeze.
4. Keep it simple
A tasty and satisfying lunch doesn’t have to be complicated or require hours of cooking. Keep your recipes simple but make sure they’re things you’ll actually enjoy eating. One-pot meals like stews and curries freeze well and make for satisfying lunches you can heat up in the microwave.
If you prefer cold lunches, level up your sandwich game by using artisanal breads and fresh produce as opposed to jarred spreads and processed cold cuts. Alternatively, salads simply require a bit of washing and chopping, making it easy to prep a hearty salad for lunch the night before. How does an Autumn Kale Harvest Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette sound? To save time, get a salad spinner like the MASTER Chef Salad Spinner, 5-L to make drying your greens quick and easy.
5. Set aside time for meal prepping and cooking
It goes without saying that once you know what you’re making and you’ve collected all the necessary ingredients, you need to set aside time to make it all happen. Start by scheduling time on the weekend to dedicate to cooking and weekly meal prep. Over time, as you get more efficient at meal prepping, it’ll become much easier, less time-consuming and part of your regular routine.
A slow cooker, Instant Pot® or 6.5-qt dutch oven makes cooking in larger quantities a breeze, while this 15-piece Anchor Hocking Premium TrueSeal Storage Set comes with a range of sizes that’s perfect for keeping a week’s worth of meals fresh. It also boasts clear inserts on the lid (for easy labelling) and Canadian Tire’s TESTED badge, meaning it's been given the seal of approval by real Canadians.
6. Get the kids involved
Make packing lunch a fun part of your kid’s morning routine. The key is to make the process easy and give them a little autonomy when it comes to deciding what they eat. We’re not suggesting you let them pack chips and cookies and nothing else, but your kids are more likely to eat, and enjoy, a lunch they packed themselves.
Get your kids set up with the Rubbermaid Lunch Blox Kit and a station full of parent-approved options. Yogurt, apple slices, granola bars and nuts are all great healthy choices. You can also allow your kids to build their own sandwiches by offering them a selection of lunch meats and spreads. Before you know it, you’ll be retired as chief lunch box packer, and your kids will have lunches they’ll be excited to eat—instead of looking to trade away.