Back in January, we talked about starting the new year and forming healthy habits to promote a new and improved you. If you’ve been following along, you’ll know that March’s suggested “resolution” was to pack lunch everyday. I expect this one to be a little tricky. For me, I work at a hospital, with a really gross cafeteria and no restaurants in the near vicinity, so 99.7% of the time I pack a lunch to bring to work. However, I only work three days a week and on my days off I often find myself out running errands and starving because I haven’t properly planned for lunch. This leads to the inevitable drive-thru run. Or I grab a candy bar on my way through a checkout line. Definitely very unhealthy and, over time, pricey.
Packing lunch may not be intuitive. In today’s world we are used to instant satisfaction and planning out that satisfaction in advance may be an adjustment. But (I promise) it is something that you can easily incorporate into your routine if you decide to give it a go. Here are a few tips to help make packing lunch a little easier.
Leftovers. Oftentimes the issue with packing lunch is having something to pack. We get busy and we don’t make it to the grocery store and our refrigerators and pantries become bare. At times like these, leftovers are a magical thing. If you are already making a meal, it really doesn’t matter how much you make. Doubling a recipe really doesn’t add any extra time or effort. You are dirtying the pots and pans anyway so you might as well make some extras. Put the leftovers away as single servings and then you can just grab and go for a super easy lunch! Check out a great recipe for leftovers here.
Buddy Up. Sometimes deciding ahead of time to pack lunch can be a bit daunting. And really there are just some days we don’t have those extra spare minutes. So find a buddy–your spouse, coworker, or neighbor–and get them on board the lunch train. Pick someone who has similar tastes as you and then take turns packing lunch for each other. If you are responsible for another person’s meal, chances are you will find the time to pack it and prioritize them even if you wouldn’t have prioritized yourself. Then pack two, one for them one for you! Have them do the same and alternate days. Now you are only packing lunches for half the number of days, but still having nutritious meals on a daily basis.
Designate a time. If you aren’t a morning person then it will be hard to convince yourself to get out of bed early enough to pack a lunch. If your evening routine is jam packed with schoolwork, exercise, errands and chores then chances are you’ll hit the sheets before realizing you forgot lunch. So find the time that is easiest for you. Whether you pack in the morning, the night before, or on Sunday afternoons for the entire week, what time doesn’t matter, taking the time does.
Supplies. It’s hard to pack leftovers if you don’t have any containers. Stock up on portion appropriate sizes, sandwich bags, snack containers and lunch boxes. Try glass for a dishwasher and microwave safe option that lasts forever! And check out these cute reusable sandwich bags for a more eco friendly option.
Stash single serving sizes. Why pack snacks for a day when you can pack snacks for a week? Buying larger sizes and divvying them up yourself saves you money. So throw a handful of nuts, or a bunch of grapes into your snack container and then repeat times five. Your snacks will be right at your fingertips all week without any extra hassle.
Protect perishables. Scoop applesauce, smoothies or yogurt into single serve containers and pop them in the freezer. You’ll have a stash of snacks on hand that can double as ice packs. Come lunch time you’ll have a nicely defrosted cool treat!
No matter your motivation, packing lunch is good for you! So make a grocery list and jump on board the lunch box train.
Photo credits: earth911.com (lead photo) and Bagitconcious on etsy.com (text photo)