Top 5: Laws of the Lunchbox

With the rigors of the morning workday including pointless meetings, office gossip and hours on Facebook, who wants to be greeted at noontime by a sad, stain-ridden paper sack whose food contents reflect the imagination of those in the HR department?

It is possible to create tasty, thrifty, tidy, too-fun midday meals without tons of planning, pre-morning prep or dependence on the company nuke-box. Just follow these five laws of the lunchbox.

Move over pre-wrapped cheese slices.
Move over pre-wrapped cheese slices.

1. Live it Up: You're already saving money by steering clear of McBurger Bell, so why not make the eats better, and healthier? Consider sandwiches made with cucumbers, avocados, tomatoes, or grilled veggies (pack them separately to avoid the gooeys,) or salads topped with salmon, egg or sunflower seeds. Make a few meals with a roasted chicken plucked fresh from the deli. And don't fall back on cheese slices wrapped in plastic - depending on your entrée, go for goat cheese, prosciutto, even grated Parmesan.

2. Nifty n' Thrifty: We don't care what Chester Cheetah says, those single-serving bags of cheese snacks are expensive, and if you add up the offerings made to the vending machine god, you'll realize why you couldn't make your car payment last month. Use sealable plastic bags or containers for snacks and pack your own beverages, too. Wanna kick Chester where it hurts? Try spiced pecans, bagel bites or veggie chips in addition to fresh fruit and veggies with hummus. Wash down with flavored tea, iced coffee or lemonade.

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