How should I prepare my meats for lunch in office?

Hi Guys,

Need your advise on how I csn prepare food in advance to bring to office for lunch.
I typically pack lunch for Mondays to Thursdays and I was thinking if I can possibly cook my chicken breast few days in advance.
Plan is to sous vide them, take it out and sear them, slice them up and vacuum seal them again and put it in the fridge (not freezer).
Then I’ll just unseal it for my salads for lunch.
Do you this works and still remains some moisture in my chicken? And also from a food safety point of view, is this passable?
Before the device, my chicken breast had always been really dry and hard to eat.

Hi @kennethajm - you’ve asked the right person! I love chicken for lunch. Read on for a quick and easy method of making quality lunches for 2 weeks in advance with a minimum of effort and prep. 

Do you have a vacuum sealer? It’s not essential but it makes things so much easier and quicker (and safer).

1) Buy a pack of 2 chicken breasts. Decide on your choice of flavouring (I like ginger/garlic, but have also tried combinations such as balsamic vinegar & brown sugar, crushed cashews and satay sauce, various curry pastes etc. Doesn’t have to be fancy, jarred stuff is fine). Pat each breast dry with kitchen paper and then vacuum seal individually with your choice of flavouring. Don’t be shy with the flavouring.

2) Anova both breasts at the same time at 62.5c for 75 minutes. This cooks the chicken just enough so that it’s still extremely moist, tender and juicy, yet pasteurises the chicken so completely that you can store each breast in the fridge in it’s vacuum sealed bag for over 2 weeks before it starts to get questionable. 

3) Each chicken breast makes 3 to 4 lunches when wrapped with bagged salad (hey, SV is as much about convenience as it is about quality. Examples from my local supermarket chain). Wrap them in glad-wrap/clingfilm or sandwich bags and keep them in the fridge until it’s time to go to work. I use inexpensive sandwich bags and suck the air out with my lungs before tying a knot in them, kinda like a reverse-balloon thing. The more air you get out of the bag the longer they will be safe in the fridge for. Please feel free to add matched flavours like whole-grain mustard, sweet chilli sauce, and so on. Don’t bother with searing the meat.

4) Take one out of the fridge on the way to work. Leave it at room temperature (unless you live in somewhere with extreme room temperature) until lunchtime. Cold food lacks flavour depth, and who wants to eat hot cabbage/carrot? Room temperature gives you the best flavour, and 4 hours isn’t nearly enough time for it to go bad… 

4) The second breast is always way juicier and more flavoursome than the first. It’s been resting in the fridge for a week in the juices and flavouring it was cooked in, so as it relaxes it sucks back in a lot of that juice, and the flavour is drawn deeper into the meat.Given enough time, chicken breasts are flavour sponges, and this is the only way to give them enough time.

You will have the most sensational (and healthy) work lunches of anyone ever. The combination of quality animal protein (I buy organic free-range but YMMV) and decent mixed leafy/crunchy salad pretty much eliminates the mid-afternoon sleepies, and keeps my energy and brain levels up nicely. Be the envy of your work-mates. Never waste money on a fast-food lunch again. I do this daily and it hasn’t killed me yet, but I’m not aware of/responsible for your food prep techniques so you do this at your own risk. I would not recommend the double-breast method if you don’t have a vacuum sealer.

I would love to see your results! Good luck!
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I really should start making my lunch at least a few times a week. WE have a cafeteria that is supplemented by my company so it is hard to beat their prices. For example i get a bowl of homemade soup for $1.50. I could make chicken and buy lettuce at work.

Where I work in the summer there are very little vegetables and no fresh meat available in the tiny store. I got 1/2 price in the one restaurant but although the food was good I soon tired of it. So I would cook my meals at home but buy salads and take 1/2 home to go with supper. Worked for me.

Simon pretty much hit all the points I was gonna make so… Simon is the man!

Hey Simon! Moved office and discovered lunch in the area was way too expensive. Decided to sous vide!

But… food safety. I’ve poisoned myself a lot and would like to prevent that.

I’d like to bring lunch (150g) steak with quinoa to work. But I’d like to know the process to keep it safe for consumption.

Sous vide 500g steak
Cut into smaller portions
Chill in 50% ice bath for 1 hour
Put all portions in freezer
On work day, reheat portion for 1 hour at 60C
Sear the sides in a pan
Put the hot steak in a silicone food box to take to the office (8.30am and tropical weather here 35C)
Put it in the refrigerator in office immediately (9am)
Microwave for ?? long at lunchtime (12.30pm)

Please help! I’m not too sure about the reheating process and would like to stop poisoning myself.

Thank you.

Ok. In this instance I’d look at pre-searing your steak, so that you’re not re-bagging a couple of times before it goes into storage.

For food safety you really need to limit the time the meat spends in the danger zone and that includes when thawing and heating.

Your suggested methodology has one very long risk zone between the time it is packed in silicon for the trip to the office and the time it reaches fridge temperature. This will be quite some time after the food is put in the fridge as the silicon will be keeping the heat in. It may even still be within the danger zone when you extract it from the fridge at lunch time.

I wouldn’t be thawing, heating and searing to leave it sit in a warm area for the trip to work. I’d pack it frozen. This is why I suggest searing before cooking. It can thaw slowly in the fridge until lunchtime. Then come lunchtime give it a burst in the microwave to heat. How long it needs in the microwave will depend on how the meat is cut and packed, how much the package has thawed,
the power of the microwave and how much of a hurry you’re in. It’ll take experimentation on your part.