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Posted on Nov 27, 2008 in Poll | 25 comments

Poll: When do you pack lunch?


When do you usually pack lunch? I pack my son’s bento lunch in the morning because I usually don’t have my act together enough to do it the night before. When I do manage to pull one together when cleaning up from dinner, though, mornings are definitely less rushed and I can see the benefit of packing sturdier foods ahead of time if they’ll stand up well in the fridge overnight. How about you?

When do you usually pack lunch? (Check one)

  • in the morning (40%, 459 Votes)
  • the night before (34%, 395 Votes)
  • start the night before, finish in the morning (25%, 288 Votes)
  • other (describe in comments) (1%, 12 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,154

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Poll voting closes at 9:55pm Pacific on Wednesday, December 3, 2008.



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  1. My mum packs my lunch for me. :)

    She spoons the leftovers into a small container with rice for me after dinner; and all she has to do in the morning is microwave it!

  2. After breakfast but before lunch when I am sure what needs other than food I will have around then (like doctor appointments & errands).

  3. Sometimes I grab whatever is lying around in the morning (for my bento), and sometimes I prepare something the night before.

    I’ve started buying metal bentos that I can put things like lasagna and other baked dishes in. I make those ahead and store them in the freezer. Than I heat it up in the morning while I’m getting ready. The ones I have all came with thermal lined wraps so they stay good and hot until I can eat them. :D

    More often than not, I just throw salad stuff (lettuce, tomato, chopped veggies) in one of my bentos and just go with that. (I keep bottles of dressing in the fridge at work).

  4. Getting up at 5:30 just to make it to work on time leaves me no time to spare for bento making in the morning. So I try to make omelets etc in the evening, store in the fridge and assemble quickly in the morning to keep things from getting to soggy/stale.

  5. I’m an other also. If I am packing leftovers I start the night before, but today I packed my hubs bento this morning. It depends on what I am doing for his lunch. If it is something I know he is going to not mind eating the next day I will do the whole thing the night before. Eh.

  6. I pack part of my daughter’s lunch the night before (usually the fruit and vegetable bits) and often pre-cut things like octodogs so I can quickly boil them in the morning.

    Sandwiches are always made in the morning; they don’t survive the night!

  7. Because my fiance and I work at the same place, but I go in a few hours after him, I make our lunches together after breakfast before I head in.
    To make my morning a little smoother, I prepare lots of things in advance: stir fry for the week, refrigerator rice, chopped veggies, GRAPES, you know.. the essentials.

  8. I start packing lunches at the weekend, then refrigerate or freeze them. I do most of the rest of the prep the night before at the same time as I put our breakfasts out (otherwise, we end up buying lunch - neither of us are morning people and if we have to do anything complicated before work it doesn’t happen).

    In the morning, all we have to do is grab lunches from the fridge, fruit from the fruit bowl, take coffee from the automatic coffee maker and drink it, pour milk onto cereal and we’re done.

    I’m a big big fan of cook-ahead - almost all of my lunches and dinners for the week are prepared on a Sunday afternoon (after I go to the vegetable market that morning) and then reheated through the week.

    We both have microwaves at work, so our lunches tend to be reheatable things. I often do soups for lunch (which we take salad and bread with), sometimes curries or casseroles with rice or pasta.

    Usually the only prep to do the night before is to measure out salad greens and/or bread into lunch containers (and very occasionally slice fruit). I keep bread in the freezer, and so once it’s in a container it goes back in the freezer until the morning (even if it’s been spread with peanut butter or marmite or something). It gradually thaws through the day and keeps the bread tasting fresh. This works for salad sandwiches too, but you can’t make them the night before, of course.

    If I’m really pushed for time, lunch will be a tin of flavoured tuna or salmon, salad, bread, and chopped vegetables. We always take fruit and a carrot as well, but I’m lazy and don’t usually prepare these beyond washing them (unless it’s kiwifruit - my partner won’t eat it if it’s not peeled and sliced).

    Our lunches don’t tend to be pretty, but they’re satisfying, nutritious, homemade and inexpensive - and I don’t have to cook all week!

  9. I’m definitely a morning of lunch packer, which is probably silly with so many to pack, but I want everything to be as fresh as possible. I definitely stash leftovers the night before into easily microwavable containers. Sometimes I’ll go so far as to set out the bento boxes the night before, but that’s about it.
    I do plan ahead for what I’ll be doing for most lunches. Each month I figure out how many lunches/snacks I’ll need for what days and for which family member; I make notes and sometimes even sketch a little picture in a rectangle to start a mental image of what I’m going to try to make. This also facilitates making a nutritionally balanced lunch. So by the time morning arrives I’m usually packing on autopilot.

  10. I do pack in the morning … only for take picture with the day light !
    It would be easier to pack it the night before, insteed of putting leftover in recipient and then, in the morning, transfer them in my bento !

  11. Most days I pack it at night. I just don’t have the what with all in the morning. Occasionally, if it’s hot foods that need to cool I will start at night and finish in the morning.

  12. I pack one tier at night, usually veggies and fruit, and stick that in the fridge. I have the other tier out on the counter in the morning, ready to be filled with a sandwich, egg rolls, noodles, or pasta.
    =) I fill sauce containers with dressing or ketchup the night before, too.

    I move my cheese stick from the freezer to the fridge to defrost overnight, so I can just grab it in the morning and tuck it underneath my bento box’s strap.

  13. I don’t actually pack lunches currently, but I aspire to pack them the night before, haha.

    I plan to start packing them around the time I move to Fargo, ND. :)

  14. Since I work in the evening, I pack my lunch box at around noon before heading to work…my actual ‘lunch’ is closer to dinner time. Sometimes I don’t even pack, I just grab whatever is left over from the previous night’s dinner in whatever container it is in and stuff it into my lunch box.

  15. My son’s school doesn’t heat anything up, unlike my daughter’s, so I pack up what I can at night and then have to reheat his in the morning and put it in his thermos. It’s def. easier in summer when not as much hot stuff goes to school and we pack more finger type foods.

  16. I pack the night before, usually while I’m cooking dinner. I figure that I’m in the kitchen anyway, I might as well multi-task. I’ll sometimes half-pack & then add leftovers after dinner but I find I pack my kids a healthier lunch if I do it the night before. I’m much more willing to slice strawberries or make meat & cheese kabobs the night before as opposed to the morning (I am SO not a morning person!)

  17. We go shopping on Sunday, and divvy up the veggies and fruits into smaller containers (like carrots or cherry tomatoes). Each night, I make 4 servings for the two of us. I put the leftovers in containers after dinner, but hubby puts everything in the lunchboxes in the morning.

  18. Usually I pack the night before because I have to leave the house by 6:30am. But occasionally, I’ll pack in the morning. especially if I have a plan for something easy to heat in the morning; Like curry!

  19. I have done all three. The most common one though is for me to start the night before and finish in the morning.

  20. We exercise in the mornings, so if lunch doesn’t get packed the night before - it doesn’t get packed. We’ve actually gotten really good at remembering (fortunately).

  21. I pack my lunches at night — not because I have my act together, but because I prefer to sleep in for as long as possible! ;)

    The only times I don’t pack my lunch in advance are times when I know I have enough in the kitchen that I can just reach and grab for several different items, pop them into a container, and be done.

  22. I start prepping and assembling ingredients and the things I need the night before, I finish it off in the morning. Just because I haven’t had time to properly read and be informed about food safety. I don’t know which food are good to freeze, which are better fresh. It works, cos then I’m forced to wake up early for gym. I pack lunch for my man, his work starts at 6am so I’m usually cooking by 5am.

  23. I try to do mine lunch the night before but if I am feeling lazy. I fix it in the morning. If I am extra lazy or had a late night I don’t fix one at all.

  24. I do it in the morning. I keep sleeping later and later, so I end up not being able to have lunch some days… I need to get it together.

    It’s gotten to the point where I can’t even heat food up. I just have to dump it in - with my fingers, not even silverware! - and eat it cold. The only thing that warms it up is the rice, which is fresh.

    When I have time to cook, everything is yummy and still a little warm at lunch

  25. I do it in the morning. Although with winter, it requires a little more forethought to heat the soup and the thermos and fill the lunchbox. Those little laptop lunch meal planners are very helpful.