Love Your Lunch! Secrets to a Healthy, Home-Packed Meal
With ever increasing demands for our time and attention combined with widespread availability of convenience & fast foods, it can be tempting to skip the brown bag in favor of the easier option, but bringing your lunch comes with some serious benefits. Here are some secrets from lunch-packing-pros to help you reap the benefits of bringing your own foods for lunches and snacks.
Save on salt, sugar, fat and other “junk.” Restaurants and convenience foods are almost guaranteed to serve you more fat, salt, and sugar than you need or would consume from foods you’ve prepared yourself. Bringing your own lunch means you know exactly what you’re getting.
Save time! No more hemming and hawing about what to eat during your break, no more waiting in line to buy food, or waiting for wait-staff to bring your overpriced soup and salad. It’s already done! Use that extra time to go for a walk or do something relaxing for yourself.
Save $$$! Most of us could save $20-$80 per week if we skipped buying food at work or going out for lunch. Over time, that really adds up! How would you spend an extra $1000-$4000/year?
Feel less hungry – and have more energy! Nutritious foods won’t zap your energy like unhealthy foods.
Secrets & Tips from Lunch-packing Pros:
Plan and Prep. It sounds time-intensive, but it will actually save time. Plan some meals. Make a list. Shop with the list, and then prep your foods (wash/slice/dice/store in individual serving containers) as soon as you get home from the store. When everything is in grab-n-go form, it makes it much easier to build a lunch when you’re short on time.
Piggyback meals. If you haven’t had chili-salad, you’re really missing out. Virtually anything can be repurposed into a great lunch with just a little bit of creativity and an open mind. Leftovers + healthy greens = endless power-lunch potential. (Or, can you throw leftover veggies with some whole grain pasta and white beans? Toss it with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar for quick and healthy pasta salad!)
Load up on staple items. Keep extra veggies for sandwiches, grain bowls, wraps, salads, etc. prepped and ready. Consider keeping some of your favorite wrap/sandwich spreads (hummus or tahini, anyone?) Don’t forget fresh fruits and veggies for snacks.
Use a lunchbox you love. It might sound silly, but if you love your lunch bag or box, it adds a little extra motivation for actually using it!
Include a treat. Pack a few squares of dark chocolate, or some small treat that won’t break your calorie bank a couple times a week. It’s important to look forward to what’s waiting for you when you open your lunch bag.
Start a lunch club. Do you have a reliable co-worker (or a few) with similar dietary preferences? Plan a day to bring two servings of your lunch – one for you, one for your co-worker. Tomorrow, it’s their turn! Enjoy some variety along with some division of labor!
There’s more to lunch than sandwiches. Packing your lunch everyday doesn’t mean you have to (or should) eat the same sandwich and snack day in and day out. Mix it up. Have some go-to items that are simple to prepare, but feel exciting when you get to dig in. Experiment with whole grain bowls, creative salads, wraps, bento box style lunches, or whatever else tickles your fancy.
About the Author
Eva Cassel, Health and Wellness Coach, B.S., CPT
Eva has a passion for helping others discover how to feel great and live their best lives. Empowering, motivating, encouraging, and supporting people in making sustainable, healthy changes that enhance life and happiness is what she loves doing most!
She has a B.S. in Health and Exercise Science, with a concentration in Health Promotion from Colorado State University; Wellcoaches Health & Wellness Coach training; ACSM Certified Personal Trainer; 4+ years one-on-one lifestyle, health and wellness coaching, and a lifetime of learning from her own wellness journey.
Outside of work, she loves a good trail run, enjoying delicious food or craft beer with friends, starting a craft project, wake-surfing, and spending time with her partner, Joe.