Lunch is the time to fuel your body to finish out the day strong. While eating out every day may be fun and tempting, it can get costly quickly. Packing your own lunch will save you time and money, and it may even be a healthier choice—prepackaged and fast food contain more sodium, fat, and sugar than whole foods. Cooking at home with fresh foods will be more nutritious and cut out bad habits.
Know What’s in Your Food
When you are the chef, you know exactly how many croutons the salad has, and substitutions are no problem. Packing your own lunch can help you stick to a diet and use whole foods to customize and make any meal healthy. Many restaurants give massive meals, and if there’s food on your plate, it’s hard not to eat it. Portion control is easier when you make meals yourself, and limiting calories will help your waistline and your energy levels. Intentionality and planning in advance will keep your portion size down and make sticking to nutritious foods easier.
While it may not be glamorous, taking the time to make your own food saves the cost of eating out. Spending $10 a day on food will cost you $200 a month, and $2,400 a year! Your wallet will thank you. Take this opportunity to find more ways to save money. Repurposing leftovers to eat the next day saves food waste and money and usually provides a more robust meal than a prepackaged salad.
Make a Plan
Meal prepping may be an extra hassle, but it can be worth the time. Preparing batches of food that can last the week is cheaper and easier to pack every day. Making soup, cooking chicken, or cutting up veggies in advance will make packing your lunchbox easier in the morning so you can get out of the house quickly. Map out meals and go grocery shopping so you can be ready before the week begins. List your favorite dishes and foods and see how you can mix and match them to make combinations for every week. Pack a healthy snack, like an apple or dark chocolate, to have throughout the day instead of hitting up the company vending machine.
Think Inside the Box
Get the right tools for the best results. You’ll be more committed to packing your lunch if you have a quality lunchbox to keep it in. Bento boxes are favorites for their minimalistic layout to compartmentalize foods, and reusable containers like Mason jars work beautifully for salads and are so pretty to look at. If you pack sandwiches a lot, invest in a sandwich box. Investing in quality containers will make you more likely to use the tools and keep your food from getting soggy throughout the day.
Take a Break
A big appeal to eating out for lunch is a change of scenery and a break during the day. Don’t miss out on these benefits; take your packed lunch and find a bench outside or by a window to change up the pace. Or if you eat your lunch at your desk, follow it up with a walk with a coworker for some exercise and Vitamin D. Making lunch feel like an event will capture some of the appeal of going out to lunch.
Eat like a Hancock Health Doctor
Dr. Fadi Hayek, of the Sue Ann Wortman Cancer Center, skips carbohydrates completely when he’s at work and packs salads with proteins, including chicken and boiled eggs. Another favorite: chicken dipped in salsa.
“At first, cutting out the carbs was hard. But once I got over the mental game, it became much easier,” he said.