It’s funny how some designations stick with you throughout life. For example, most kids in elementary school are divided into two groups; the cold lunch (aka boxed lunch) kids or the hot lunch (school-provided) crowd. Many in our office were cold lunch kids, and still lug their compartmentalized Rubbermaid to the lunchroom each and every day. It’s easier on the pocketbook and the waistline, and it’s easy enough to do with a little proper planning.
The most common reason that we hear from coworkers as to why they don’t bring their own lunch is usually related to time. They run out of time in the morning and forget to make the lunch, or don’t plan for making lunches when they do their grocery shopping. While it’s not always a walk in the park, there are some the things you can do to make life on the cold lunch side of the fence a bit easier:
1. Proper planning prevents poor performance
And by plan, we mean build it to fit into your schedule and your habits. That may mean designating a certain day to prep the week’s food or getting up a little earlier each day to pack your lunch. Whatever works best for you is what will stick. The most important part—like building any routine—is repetition. They say it takes 60 days for a new action to become a habit, so try and stick it out for two months.
2. Shop smart
At the grocery store, pick up things that are easy to pop into a lunch as sides. There are a few different strategies you can take: make extra of your nightly entrée to bring for later lunches, or prepare specific lunches by day.
Think back to your school days and the food pyramid for inspiration. Pack lunches that include foods from different groups to a) stimulate your palate and b) make you feel fuller faster. Eating a lot of one thing or the same thing every day can make you feel less full, or bored with your meal, and then you off the wagon. Some of our standbys include:
- Nuts. Trail mix is great for different flavors plus they’re a good source of nutrients (just don’t get the super salty kind).
- Lean protein, like turkey or chicken. Again, different flavors and spices help keep things from getting boring and bland.
- Vegetables…usually carrots or celery. Easy to prep and munch with low-fat dip or peanut butter (in place of nuts, of course).
- Cheese. It’s great for your bones and for your muscles, what’s not to love?
- Dark chocolate. Great if you’re like us and need a little something “sweet” to wrap up the lunch hour. Choosing dark chocolate is healthier for your heart and waistline than it’s milk or white relatives.
3. Ditch the brown paper bag
We love using containers with compartments; they’re reusable (score one for the environment!), they keep our food separated, and help to keep it all looking appetizing.
For more ideas on bringing your lunch, try using Pinterest to see what people with more time are doing, and incorporate those ideas when you can.
When you pack a lunch, what do you typically include?