June 26, 2015


General Health

This week in the Movin’ and Losin’ Monday class, our topic was “How to pack a lunch”. Now, you’re likely one of three people reading this—either (A) “Psh, I pack a lunch daily and am VERY capable of putting food into a bag and bringing it to work, (B) “Whoa, people pack lunches? There’s no way I have time in the morning and umm..we have a cafeteria”, or (C) “Lunch? What’s lunch?”

Whatever your viewpoint on lunch is, there are many positives to packing your own lunch/dinner/snacks for the workday. For starters, it usually ends up being a cheaper option. You can buy the food in bigger quantities at the grocery store, and portion it out for a few days. When you head to the cafeteria or out for lunch, you may not get all of the necessary food groups in one meal unless you pay for extras or ala carte. And, let’s be real, the portions are usually much bigger (read: extra calories) than what is recommended. Although swinging by the cafeteria or out to lunch with coworkers is ok in moderation, you will likely see your pennies adding up by staying in and packing your own.

Another benefit to packing your lunch is knowing exactly what you are eating, and being able to plan a healthy, well-balanced meal.  You can pack all of your food groups, and even measure them out so you know exactly how many calories you are consuming. Many storage containers (think Tupperware) have perfectly-portioned containers that area easy to pack, store and transport—helps to take the guess work out! You are ultimately in control of what you are putting in your body, and how much of it by packing your own lunch.

On the same lines of control, packing your lunch may help to alleviate any temptation to swing by the vending machine or to make a last-minute decision to get fast food. Even the simple idea of knowing you have food packed, could be enough to keep you on track and keep you away from the glowing LED lights of the vending machine.

When you pack your lunch, you can also leave room for healthy snacks that will help keep your hunger at bay, and will keep your metabolism revved.  Snacks such as an apple or other fresh fruit, vegetables and light dip or hummus, or even a cheese stick and nuts can be a beneficial and satisfying component of your wellness plan. I think too many times we worry about eating “too many times” during the day, but healthy snacks should be  incorporated into your day, and can help to keep you from feeling ravenous and making unhealthy, irrational choices.

I think many times people shy away from packing their lunch/dinner because it’s another task to add to their morning grind, and there are always options for lunch once you’re at work, but not so much for clothes (clothes > packing lunch). Making a PLAN for your week, and using a few tricks can help to make the process easier and with little stress.

  1. Pack lunch at night. Although the night-time routine might be hectic, finding extra time at night will be easier than in the morning when the work/appointment/day care etc. timeframe looms overhead. Wake up knowing you have that crossed off the list, and you’re ready for other healthy decisions.
  2. Use leftovers. Bulk up your dinner with extra lean protein, carbs, fruits and veggies and use them for your lunch the next day. You have to pack them up and put them in the fridge anyway, right? Take the extra containers out of the cupboard, and put them into your lunch bag right in the fridge. It’s an extra step that takes a few more minutes, but the return is quite worth it.
  3. Do it all at once. This is a trick that I use—I will make my lunches for the week on Sunday, and keep them together in the fridge, that way all I have to do is pop them in my cute zebra-print (truth) lunch bag and be ready to go for the day. This will take a bit of time to cut everything up and pre-portion, but it saves SO much time during the week, that I’m ok giving up a little time on Sunday to have the extra during the week. I also feel like I’m ready to go for the week, and have a bit more confidence in my health/wellness plan.

Last but not least, lunches do not have to be the standard “PB& J with an apple and carrots”—unless you like that. Lunches can be jazzed up easily with different recipes. Swap out your bread for a tortilla for a wholesome wrap or one of my favorites is using a pita pocket to chuck full of goodies to eat. Have a variety of vegetables cut up and ready to go, and try your hand at making your own light veggie or dill dip or even hummus. Pinterest is my go-to for inspiration for jazzing up my lunch, and I can almost guarantee you will one or 463 recipes that you like and can do for yourself.

Try it this week—pick one or two days that you are packing your lunch, and go from there. It will become easier with time, and you waistline and bank account will thank you.

Until next time!