What does a "work day" mean to you?
To some it may stand for long, grueling hours laboring outdoors, to others it may mean a day spent upright at a desk in a suit and tie. Personally, I've held a lot of different of jobs in my time as a working adult. To list a complete resume would take several full minutes, but the highlights would include stints as a food stylist, executive receptionist, painter-for-hire, medical records clerk, terrible waitress, model home stager, NYC dog walker, art installer, fast food sushi slinger, and even a period in college when I worked as a live artist's model. Needless to say, I almost never include a full resume when introducing myself.
From buttoned-up corporate environments to sweaty, labor-intensive work sites, the one constant throughout my varied career has been the importance of lunch. Nothing douses the creative flame faster than a sad fast food burger, vending machine soda or, worse, no lunch at all. That drowsy, irritable feeling you get around three every afternoon? That's more than just nostalgia for childhood naptime, it's your brain begging for a lunchtime spread that includes a rainbow of vegetables and nourishing light proteins. Take a pause in the middle of your work day, pry yourself away from the lure of glowing screens, step away from your desk, and set aside a few moments to nurture yourself with an inspiring, nutritious midday feast.
The recipes suggested here share some ingredients in common (definitely a best practice when stocking a fridge with staples for future lunches), including Greek yogurt, which is one of my favorite things to swirl into everything from feta dip to chicken salad. Do yourself a favor and skip the fat-free variety in favor of the more full-bodied version, it will add dreamy flavor and texture to any dish it touches. In addition to being simple to shop for, all three recipes lend themselves to being made the night before, with minimal cooking and prep time required.
Whether you're a dog walker or a corporate finance analyst, the best labor is that which is undertaken with love, and approached with creativity and innovation. The best way to nurture that enthusiasm every day is with a balanced lunch of delicious, yet lightly filling ingredients. All three of these workday lunches can be easily prepared with love the night before work, and provide the protein-laden fuel that will inspire a day's worth of creative fire.
Find my recipes for Chicken Salad with Red Grapes and Za'atar, Creamy White Bean & Feta Spread, and Vegetable Burritos Wrapped in Collard Greens over at Kaufmann Mercantile (the dreamiest online shop imaginable for a kitchen prop stylist, and the place to find the Organic Linen Napkin, Southern Field Industries Tote Bag, Weck Canning Jar and Waterproof Waxed Canvas Lunch Bags glimpsed in this post).