Every day in the newsroom is different, but there are a few things you can count on. One of those is that, about 10:30 or 11 a.m., somebody in my corner of the newsroom will say ďOK, so who didnít bring lunch today?Ē

Considering my job, itís pretty embarrassing to admit how often I am either the person asking, or one of the people raising my hand. I just canít seem to get in the habit of packing a lunch. Even if I cooked plenty of dinner the night before, even if I really donít have the money for our daily deli delivery, my mornings are spent rolling out of bed, finding stuff for my son and husband, packing my work clothes if Iím going to the Y, or putting on my work clothes if Iím not.

Once theyíre gone, I run my fingers through my hair, brush my teeth, grab my phone, take my pills and Iím out. I eat breakfast on the way to work, and the first time I think about lunch is when the 10:30 call goes up.

In an attempt to address the situation, with school starting this week, I looked for a couple of recipes that seemed good lunch possibilities (for myself) in Chicken Burrito Bowls and Strawberry Spinach Salad with Orange Poppy Seed Dressing. They tasted good. Now I just have to add that 120 seconds to my routine required to box them up and bring them to work.

Five things I learned:
1. Yes, I know I can box them up the night before. Even days before. The burrito bowls recipe was designed to be cooked and immediately packaged into four plastic containers, fancy plate presentation here notwithstanding. What Iíve learned from this recipe is that the missing ingredient here has been forethought. Does anyone know where I could find some of that?

2. I suggest pounding the chicken some. I took mine straight out of the package and put it on the foil-lined pan. Thatís the second time Iíve done that in a week and wound up with rubbery, hard-to-chew chicken breast. After some reading on the subject ó OK a lot of reading ó Iíve learned and relearned and relearned, that boneless, skinless chicken breast needs to be firmly, but not angrily, beaten into submission.

Do it between two pieces of plastic wrap or inside a zip-top bag, with the flat side of a meat mallet, from the inside of the meat out, just enough so that itís an even width. This will help it cook more quickly, saving juice, and tenderize it so itís not so chewy.

3. You could also butterfly the breast, meaning cut it horizontally almost in half and unfold it so that it looks like a butterfly ó or just use thighs, which have more flavor to start with.

4. I love the dressing on the pasta salad, but you wonít need it all. You could cut the recipe in half and have enough to coat the salad. And, unlike the burrito bowls, this is not something you want to totally prep the night before. You can divide the salad into different containers, but Iíd bring the dressing along in a separate container and add it right before you eat it, or your spinach will get all wilty.

Eat all the strawberries within a couple of days, too. That should not be a problem.

5. The original recipe had white pasta. I used whole-grain pasta, so itís a darker color. I really donít mind whole-grain pasta. Some people say they donít like the texture or the taste, but I like both. I wish they made more shapes in whole-grain, such as cavatappi and campanelle. With whole-grain pasta I can feel like eating pasta is actually nutritious instead of just a plate of floury starch I have to feel guilty about. I mean, Iím going to eat it anyway. Iíd rather not have to wallow in the muddy guilt pond afterward.

Chicken Burrito Bowls
2 or 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
3 bell peppers, any color, sliced
1 large red onion, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon taco seasoning
Salt and pepper
1 jar salsa
3 cups cooked brown rice, divided
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can corn
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 lime, sliced into wedges
Fresh cilantro to garnish
Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with foil.

Place the chicken, peppers, and onions on the baking sheet and drizzle with oil. Sprinkle the taco seasoning evenly over both sides of the chicken breasts.

Salt and pepper the peppers and onions, tossing to coat. Top each chicken breast with a generous pour of salsa.

Bake in a preheated oven for 25 minutes. Rest chicken for 10 minutes, before slicing into strips.

Add a base of brown rice to 4 food storage containers. Top each with a scoop of black beans, corn, additional salsa, cheddar cheese, cooked peppers and onions, and sliced chicken.

Garnish with fresh cilantro and a lime wedge.

Store in the refrigerator (and enjoy any extras immediately). Can be kept refrigerated for up to 4 days.

Nutrition information per serving: 666 calories; 21 g fat (8.1 g saturated); 1,667 mg sodium; 83 g carbohydrate; 13 g fiber; 7.2 g sugar; 40 g protein
www.buzzfeed.com

Strawberry Spinach Salad with Orange Poppy Seed Dressing
8 ounces penne noodles, cooked according to package directions
2 cups packed fresh baby spinach leaves
1 cup sliced strawberries
1 cup pineapple chunks
ľ cup dried cranberries, or dried blueberries
Ĺ cup salted cashews, or other nut like pecans or walnuts
Orange Poppy Seed Dressing
Ĺ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
ľ cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup orange juice
2 teaspoons poppy seeds
Optional: pinch of salt and pepper

Combine all dressing ingredients in a jar, cover, and shake well. Set aside.

Combine penne, spinach, strawberries, pineapple, cranberries, and cashews in a large bowl and toss with the prepared dressing.
Serve immediately or cover and chill for 1 hour before serving.

Nutrition information per serving: 233 calories; 15 g fat (2.4 g saturated); 90 mg sodium; 24 g carbohydrate; 2.4 g fiber; 12.4 g sugar; 3.7 g protein
ó www.lecremedelacrumb.com

ó Jennie Geisler can be reached on Twitter: @ETNGeisler.