Why pack a lunch?
Time: Pack your own in 5-10 minutes vs. 30 minutes lunching out (travel and wait time). That is a savings of 83 hours a year or approximately 3 ½ days of your life each year that you could spend doing something you love.
Money: Lunching out daily adds up to approximately $1,200 – 2,500/year. Packing a lunch costs $300-600/year. Savings = up to $2,000/year. That’s a Disneyland trip for 4!
Control: You are completely in control of the nutrition, balance, variety and portion, whereas when eating out you surrender most of your control in those areas.
Components to consider when packing lunch:
Beverage: Water is always the best default when it comes to hydration, but many people either dislike water, or are looking for something more flavorful during their lunch break. I enjoy working with USDA certified organic Cascade Ice because it serves as a great sack-lunch beverage for a couple of reasons. First of all, it provides some bubbly flavor that adds some zip to lunch, and second of all, the ingredient list is so simple it eliminates all the unnecessary extras you find in most flavored beverages. You can find these at Smiths and Sprouts. I love the refreshing appeal of lemon flavor.
Balance: Complex carbs (grains), veggie, fruit and protein. You always want to have some from each of these categories to provide the significant source of nutrition that lunch represents. Sometimes getting a variety of protein sources is tricky especially if you don’t have refrigeration easily available. Thinking outside the sandwich box, I brought one of my favorite on-the-go protein options. Chef’s Cut Real Jerky is handcrafted jerky that uses top quality, real ingredients. It is lower in sodium and fat than other jerky on the market – and is a great source of protein that is nitrite-free. With a variety of jerky types, it provides healthy, high-protein, low-fat alternative to the over processed, high fat snacks out there. You can get it at Smiths, Sprouts or Costco. Try pairing it with some whole grain crackers, fresh veggies and some dried fruit and nut mix or with a salad for a satisfying lunch.
Variety: This doesn’t simply mean don’t pack the same lunch everyday, but it also means that you should vary the flavors and textures in your lunch. Sometimes we may have met our caloric or even volume of food needed at lunch to get us through until dinner, but if it didn’t satisfy the sensory needs and craving we have, we may need to rethink our packing strategy.
Sweet Tooth: It’s better to plan for your sweet tooth than ignore it and find yourself punching numbers into a vending machine after lunch to get that sweet fix. Fruit is nature’s dessert, but if that doesn’t quite cut if for you, pack a portion-smart dessert. Shoot for 80 calories or less: 2 Thin Mint GS cookies, a square of dark chocolate, 2 pieces salt water taffy.
Planning to pack can make a world of difference for your health, your time and your money!