how to carry your breakfast and lunch to work

Posted on July 23rd, 2013

With each passing day, my lunch arrangements get more and more ridiculous. Actually, I don’t think they’re ridiculous. They’re very practical and economical and smart. If you ask me. And, if I can be boastful, they’ve inspired others to get ridiculous too. Check out the I Quit Sugar team’s efforts from the blog the other day.

Here's how I bring in my lunch

Here’s how I bring in my meals. Zip lock bags and containers a’plenty.

My eating technique is this:

I make my own breakfast and lunch each day. I never buy takeaway – ever – and don’t eat out for breakfast very often (only under sufferance; I struggle to pay $17 for eggs).

As I don’t eat breakfast until about 10am most days, breakfast is eaten in the office or on planes. En route, as a rule. Lunch, I’m often in meetings, on shoots or interstate. And so I tote.

I eat dinner out a few times a week or at friend’s houses where I don’t necessarily eat what I’d normally like to eat. So breakfast and lunch is my own. And so I tote.

These are some of the things I do to tote:

1. I make my green smoothie which I carry in jars and drink bottles. I don’t go anywhere without one. It’s the easiest thing to take on a plane, or into a meeting. I use a really good metal Zip water bottle I got given at the Sydney Festival. You’ll see it in the photo below. (I took my smoothie to a cafe for catch ups with my brother Ben.)

Ben and I, with my green smoothie on the table.

Ben and I, with my green smoothie on the table.

You can find green smoothie recipes in the I Quit Sugar Cookbook.

2. I freeze kale or spinach (parcooked) and add some frozen peas and place in a cup. I put two eggs (uncracked) on top and cover with plastic. Then tote to work, crack the eggs, stir, microwave for 2 minutes to make a muggin. More details on that below.

Tip: I keep some eggs in the fridge at work because they can be added to all kinds of breakfast meals, or salads for extra protein. The I Quit Sugar General Manager Zoe does similar, with a tin of “Emergency Salmon” in a drawer at her desk.

3. I take some of my Coco Nutty Granola and yoghurt (full fat) to work in a jar.

4. I do Porridge Whips: yoghurt (full fat), oats and berries (for extra flavour) all mixed together in a blender.

5. I put leftover soups and bone broth in jars and old vitamin containers and freeze them. This way they don’t spill or leak in my bag as I’m tote-ing. They defrost (in the fridge) during the morning, and they’re ready for heating at lunch time.

Tip: I use old medicine and tablet containers to transport most of my meals. Yoghurt containers also work well, as do coconut oil mason jars.

Here I am, tote-ing across Oxford Street

Here I am, tote-ing across Oxford Street

6. I bring in all the ingredients for my Fudgy Protein Bites in one jar and make them in the kitchen. Pop in the freezer and they’re ready in 10-15 minutes.

All the ingredients for Fudgy Protein Bites in the rice malt syrup jar, heating in hot water. And I'm melting the coconut butter to add to the mixture and then pour into moulds.

All the ingredients for Fudgy Protein Bites in the rice malt syrup jar, heating in hot water. I’m melting the coconut butter to add to the mixture and then pour into moulds.

7. I make warm salads: broccoli, pumpkin puree, harissa, frozen peas and capers all in a jar heated in the microwave. I’ll often add a tin of tuna on top.

8. I bring in Avocado and Coconut Popsicles leftovers and put it all in a cup. It’s like a granita. Try it!

9. I make up a muffin-in-a-mug recipe. Muggins. I usually par cook it so it doesn’t spill while I’m travelling, and then do the rest of it in the microwave at work. You’ll find some muggin recipes in the I Quit Sugar Chocolate Cookbook, and in the I Quit Sugar Cookbook.

Tip: I always freeze as many things as possible so there’s less to spill.

10. I carry sauerkraut and avocado in ziplock bags to add to whatever lunch I’m having. These are particularly good with a jar salad.

Tip: I wash my ziplock bags and dry them on the window.

11. If all else fails I’ll find some extra veggies. I swing by a market on the way to work and grab a handful of beans or sugarsnap peas to eat raw.

If you’re looking for more items to make and freeze, and tote… why not try the Breakfast Casserole, or Zucchini Cheesecake from the I Quit Sugar Cookbook.

How do you carry your lunch to work? What works for you?


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  • Kaitlin

    I eat the same breakfast everyday (except for weekends) is there a problem with that?


  • Biljana G

    These are some of the things I do to tote:
    I carry almonds or walnuts in my handbag, and if I am out shopping for the day I bring along a tin of tuna, plastic fork and peace of fruit. I even carry around my own green tea teabags to friends and family, often laughed at, but I don’t mind.
    For work I always bring leftovers. Sometimes I resemble a bit like the Wog boy/girl with my whole tomato, cucumber, avocado, tuna, mayo all spread out on the communal kitchen table, assembling all the ingredients, again I don’t mind, as long as I am eating healthy.
    Love your posts Sarah, I am always learning something new from you and all the readers commenting. :)


  • Gemma

    Have you tried one of those little electric ones that you can plug in? And you can get mini pans for about $5 to fry haloumi, make fried eggs etc…worth a look :)


  • Gemma

    What about a thermos? Mine keeps soup warm all day – I just heat it on the stove in the morning then pour it into my thermos.


    Jane Reply:

    I’m with you on this one Gemma. I bring a small wide mouthed food thermos for leftover stews etc. With the correct prep it will keep food hot for hours. ‘

    i just can’t bring myself to nuke good food in the microwave anymore. I feel like I’m eating evil on a plate! Seems ridiculous when the humble thermos is handy, portable and effective.


  • Kelli

    Sarah – I wondered what your take is on canned foods and BPA?? I have seen Tuna in Oil in a glass jar but find it’s quite expensive…


  • Amelia Grace- Chai a Cup of Life

    When I was working in an office I would take for lunch whatever was left over from the night before
    * (normally Dahl, beans, rice, vege curry) or
    * keep whole vegetables in the fridge at work then cut it up at lunch to make a raw salad.
    * nuts in a jar
    * lots of herbal tea mixes
    * I even steamed vegetables in the microwave at work then added to a pitta bread with salt, pepper and a little spice.


  • Anna

    Thought I was the only gal taking ‘salad in a jar’ to work! People at work used to giggle at my tall jar full of salad stuff. It became ‘a thing’ after a while. :)


  • Anna

    I discovered homemade bento boxes a while back from a terrific blog,, and bento is designed to be eaten cold although some things you might want to reheat. So when I didn’t fancy Japanese-style lunches, I just used my bento boxes to store my carbs, protein and vegies in the little sealed boxes that make up the box set. So handy. Japanese grocery stores also sometimes stock little carrying bags to put you box in. Thermoses are also used for Japanese lunches as well or there’s those little miso soups you can make up at work with boiled water. Hope this helps!


  • Brooke

    I work on the road everyday and don’t have access to a fridge or microwave and I find it really hard to think of things to eat at lunch which fills me up and stops me from picking all day. It is also getting very expensive so if anyone has any ideas I would love to hear them.


  • Karen

    On some days I work till 9.30pm so take lunch and dinner with me. I make a big batch of quinoa and use that as a base for salads with avo, tuna, beans etc. Also use the sandwich press to cook things like tomatoes, also to warm some foods up. If I’m really rushed always have brown rice cakes handy to top with nut butter, avo etc. Olive organics do tinned fish in BPA free can and Good Fish have tuna and mackerel in glass jars.


  • Lisa&Nick

    Love all these blogs Sarah! I’ve read your book and am constantly re-reading it everyday! Boyfriend and I are nearly finished week 2 and he is struggling with not having his Saturday powerade which he believes is his only way to get through a football match as he states he needs the sugar for high intensity sports’!! Just wondering your opinion on powerade and if you have other alternatives that would be great! :)


    Alexandra Jackson Reply:

    Here is a recipe that I use:
    1l water
    1 lemon, juiced
    2 tsp honey
    1/4 tsp sea salt
    Warm water and honey slightly until honey is dissolved. Then mix with all other ingredients, chill and serve.


  • Jan

    This is great. Thank you for “knowing it all”.

    There are many research and scientific studies available on this topic. And most are not too positive.

    This is one of them:

    I suggest you check them out. Do you know who invented the microwave? Did you know they are forbidden in Russia?

    Read the material and please don’t try and make us believe you are the Microwave guru.

    I merely alerted Sarah on the use of it.

    I think everyone can do their own research. I don’t think it’s fair to grab one example and then claim there is no credible evidence. Gimme a break.

    I hope everyone does the research and come up with their own conclusion.

    Just don’t take “Miss Credible’s” word for it….

    Probably best to end the Microwave debate here and now before Sarah kicks us out of her kitchen


  • Jan

    Gimme a break Shannon! Are you now out to “get me”? Pounce on all my words. See if you can pin me down on something unhealthy. Don’t me immature please. CERTAIN non-stick pans are not healthy. Others are fine. Like Scanpan’s collection. Do your own research. Stop trying to be a smartsypants. Your tone is condenscending. And for what? Did I maybe say something “bad” to Guru Sarah?

    Get a life.


  • Amy

    I just thought it was normal for people to bring their own healthy lunch to work (instead of buying takeaway)… Until I started work haha
    My parents brought me up only eating home cooked meals and we ate out very infrequently. I cannot believe some of the crap people buy to eat. And how much it costs! On the rare occasions I have bought my lunch I struggle to find anything nutritious, it’s always expensive and I’m always starving afterwards. I know it sounds terrible but sometimes I’d rather starve than spend money on crap.

    Thanks for the tips Sarah :)
    May I say the best tip you’ve given is the picture of you with your cool “backpack”! This is the only reason I don’t ride to work currently because I find it so hard to cart all my food so that it sits upright and doesn’t spill anywhere…
    What brand is your pack?
    Thank you :)


  • Kate

    I think most of us are on the same page – we try to use the microwave as little as possible but also don’t disparage others if they choose to do something different. Thanks for the credible info sharing – I know far more now than I did 2 days ago.


  • Buy Inflatable Spa

    You’re way too cool with that backpack. Anyways, personally I would love preparing my own lunch than just buying elsewhere. Especially now that i have to always check on my diet.


  • Amanda

    New fav bfast I discovered when I ran out of home made IQS granola: cut up a rhubarb stalk, pop in saucepan with a bit of water, stew for a min, add some frozen mixed berries (1/4 cup?), micro plane grate fresh ginger, add a tsp rice malt, maybe some cinnamon or mixed spice, add some coconut shreds, almond flacks, chopped hazelnuts (ie-few chopped nuts), maybe some chia seeds. Stir (add bit water throughout if drying out). All this only takes a few minutes (even if it sounds involved) and really you can add what you want (ie- whatever you put in granola). When nice and warm and runny, serve with big dollop or 2 of creamy Greek yoghurt and stir through – tastes like dessert!


  • Katie bo batie

    I’m the same Sarah – I never buy lunch at work. Although one of my favourite indulgences is going out to breakfast, even though the $17 eggs are a rip off!)

    I get so many comments on my “gourmet” lunches from colleagues. Ladies at the last place I worked even told me I should quit and start a business making all their work meals, lol.

    One of my go to favourites is pre-cooked red quinoa with avocado, boiled eggs, seeds and diced cucumber; it’s a beautiful rainbow of a meal too.


  • Katie – Conquering Fear Spiritually (CFS)

    Great, great post Sarah- thank you! Very useful.

    Just to say that your Coco Nutty Granola you mentioned here is very popular in our house at the moment. I made a batch for myself last week and then the other half asked if he could have a batch to take to work. Now all of his colleagues are putting orders in! It’s so, so tasty- thanks for the recipe!

    Katie xx


  • rory robertson (former fattie)

    Hi team, here’s my selfie food basket for workdays, before a 7pm dinner. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea – a bit dull say some – but my sugar-free day at work – maybe four out of five days in a good week – often consists of two boiled eggs, two grilled mutton chops, several bits of broccoli, a couple of pieces of cheese and/or a handful or two of cashews or almonds. All eaten cold but all very satisfying, and ridding me of those formerly dominating “intrusive thoughts of food”. My office mates go crazy if I eat snacks of yummy boiled brussels sprout at my desk – something about the smell! Importantly, no sugary drinks are on the menu – ever:


  • Jan

    Where did I use insulting language?

    The point I made (to Sarah) was that the jury isn’t out on the health impact of microwave so it could be an idea to look at other ways of heating.

    I have linked in articles – scientific ones – that clearly support this.

    You condescendingly claim that the information in my link is not “credible”. You even repeat the word, to make your point. So I ask you? What makes you the microwave guru?

    How did I insult you exactly?


  • Jan

    Why do you assume I am stressed and what makes you think it is because someone doesn’t agree with me?

    Have you even read the debate?

    The point is NOT people not agreeing with me. I don’t care what you end up doing, seriously.

    The point is more that when someone (in this case me) brings info into a forum, it is a bit condenscending for the next person to determine that info “not credible” while the info that person brings apparently IS?

    I wonder how that works?

    I simply put Mrs Credible in her place. I am not stressed at all.

    I am off sugar for more than a year. I am very healthy and balanced. I am a happy person.

    But apart from sugar, I also do not take BS.

    And I never insulted anyone. I am merely gifted with a sharp tongue. The ones that run crying to the teacher are normally the ones that needed the retort.

    Have a great day.

    (oh and please tell me where I was rude? Please explain why someone can call my info “not credible” and why I cannot ask that person what makes her the judge?


  • Jane

    You know with the porridge I recall reading somewhere that you can put the oats in a thermos with boiling water and leave overnight, and they should be cooked and hot in the morning. Just an idea for those of u who reluctantly use a microwave for lack of other options. Maybe this would be an option to consider


  • April

    Oh no! Plastic/gladwrap is disposable and so unnecessary! I take my breakfast and lunch to work every day, and never have to use foil or plastic wrap ever.


  • PrimalMamma

    Yeah I hear you Sarah. I don’t own a microwave and don’t use one at all at home. But I take my food to work each day & microwave it. I get a very strict 30 mins for lunch, it’s impossible to heat up par-frozen soup (mine never thaws) on a stove in 30 minutes & actually get to sit, eat, enjoy & decompress from work before starting the afternoon shift. I don’t use plastic to microwave & I don’t feel great about it but it is what it is in our modern world. Namaste.


  • Karla

    I have the exact same Zip bottle from Sydney Festival and I use it too! Wowsers. Great suggestions Sarah. Thank you as always.


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  • Jane

    Leen I make my own milk kefir and drink it every night as my bedtime drink. Easy peasy.

    I started with about a tablespoon of grains that someone kindly gave me. I put those in a deep-ish cereal bowl with about a cup or maybe a bit more of milk, then put on a saucer for a lid. and the lot goes in a cupboard. Then 24 hours later I drain it in a sieve into a bowl. Then I dump the grains back into the original bowl and add a little more milk – just to dissolve the kefir that’s still clinging to the grains. Then I drain it again. I then rinse the grains to remove the excess kefir, then back into my cereal bowl to start the process again. The kefir i”ve collected goes into a big mug with a teaspoon of blackstrap molasses and that’s it.

    The golden rules are you need to keep it in enough milk to feed it, and drain it off and re-milk it at least every 24 hours. There’s some contention about whether or not to rinse the grains after draining off the kefir. However I’ve found if I just add more milk to it as is, the remaining kefir clinging to the grains makes it ferment in about 8 hours instead of 24, For me it’s more convenient. And I know the fermentation is happening as when i open it up to drain it, it’s very thick and tangy.

    A couple of times I’ve left it for 2 days instead of changing after 1 day and that;s fine. It has a stronger flavour, but I don’t mind that. If you’re not going to be able to tend the grains for longer than that, it’s best to store them in the fridge with fresh milk, as this halts the fermentation process.


    Jane Reply:

    Oh forgot to mention – another golden rule is to keep it out of the light. It prefers the dark. I found it was fine over summer, as long as I kept it changing every day.

    Hope this helps. Kefir is such a good thing and isn’t really hard to keep going.


  • Sally

    sarah this article is very interesting;
    more and more like this in the media now.


  • Nicole

    Can you freeze green juice made in a high-speed blender? I ask because I read somewhere that green juices made in a blender should be had immediately whereas green juices made via a juicer can last a couple days…


  • Sal

    I’ve made the same work brekki now for over a year!


  • picardie.girl

    Hey Sarah,
    Thanks for the inspiring ideas! Just wanted to mention Pyrex as a storage solution that might suit you – one of their small containers would surely suit your wonderful muggins, and they come with a lid so no need for plastic. Glass is fine in the microwave too.
    I’ve made the muggins twice now at work after reading this and they worked beautifully.


  • Kirsten McCulloch

    I work in my converted garage now, so I tend to make lunch at home, at lunch time, but breakfast I often make and “take with me” – just a bowl of oats and chia seeds and maybe a sliced banana or grated apple with some boiling water to soak for a few minutes and then a bit of milk or cream added. I don’t have a fridge out there, but I do take out a mini eski with milk most days.

    My husband does what you do though, and freezes lunch (usually left overs) so it doesn’t leak on the way.

    I must try joining the green smoothy revolution. My mum is in love with them. Right now while it’s cold I must admit the idea doesn’t appeal much, but then extra greens right now could only be a good thing…


  • Georgie

    Hi, just come back from Australia where i was introduced to your book and found lots of handy tips to stay healthy onthe road.

    Flying non stop half way round the world, time zonetastic and all the rules and regs around liquids through security, I wondered if I could rise to the challenge.

    I did…..almost.

    I take apple cider vinegar before each meal that has dine wonders with my digestion. So I poured some into a 100ml bottle. I took packets of oat cakes and rice cakes and tubs of chopped veg, plus a couple of whole Avos which I could chop up on my veg or slice on my rice cakes. I also took and emply water bottle and two pots that stacked together, one with green powder and one with chia seeds. On board I put a table spoon of powder and one of chia seeds In the water bottle and filled it with the free on board water, gave it a good shake and then half an hour later, bobs your uncle, green juice with activated chia seeds!

    I made the mistake of taking a tub of coconut oil on my return which was promptly thrown out by security……aaaaah £6 down the swannie. But I improvised by buying a packet of pumpkin seeds when I eventually got through customs and put them in my empty water bottle then filled it half full of water. No liquid restrictions once I had got this far. As the 14 hour flight progressed my seeds gradually activated and I simply spooned some out when I was peckish and they quelled hunger pangs miraculously.

    Hope that helps you Wellness Warrior Nomads out there



  • Sasha

    Good stuff.


  • mel

    liv that sounds awesome! Recipe pretty please??


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  • Hannah Rose Cluley

    I’ve made the ‘muggin’ recipe a few times now, used all the ingredients it says in the recipe in the book, but it never works :( It just ends up either burnt or liquidy with a crunchy texture, please help!