I have become a pro at packing lunch. Not to brag or anything, but after doing it in college (when I would leave my apartment in the morning and not be back until dinner) or now when I am try to force myself whenever possible to have a technology and distraction free lunch, I’ve got it down pat. I had a little break when I was an intern, when one of the only perks we got after working for free, and spending long hours in the hospital was free lunch. But after becoming a grown up in the real dietitian world, I realized packing lunch was the way of the future. So, how do you get good at packing lunch?
Packing lunch tips:
1. Plan Ahead
This is basically in every piece of advice that I give, but stick with me here. I think planning is one of the key ingredients to a healthier lifestyle. Planning out your week means that you will have the ingredients on hand to make a healthy lunch. And as always, don’t forget to plan out those lunch meetings you are going to! Or when Bill from Accounting has a birthday, and the office has a potluck. Or when you and your fellow coworkers want to hit up the mediterranean style restaurant around the corner (we see you Perfect Pita).
2. Use Leftovers to save money when packing lunch
This is my favorite piece of advice. Leftovers for lunch requires little to no extra effort. Think about it. You are already going to be cooking (or meal prepping) dinner. What if you just add an extra piece of chicken, throw in some extra veggies and cook up your starch? You are already doing the work! Then you portion it out, put it in the fridge, and voila you are done!
3. Get Excited About Lunch
It can be really hard to get excited about your peanut butter and jelly sandwich when your coworkers go out to get Mexican food for lunch. Pack and make things that you are excited about! Now, don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but sometimes you gotta spice things up! This is why I am such a huge fan of leftovers! You can have a fun, healthy and delicious lunch, all from the night before.
4. Have the Correct Tools
Just like with anything, having the correct tools can make packing lunch, from drab to fab! I invested in some good glass containers to take my lunch in. I am also a huge fan of using mason jars to pack salads, soups or whatever when you are packing lunch. They stay closed, they are compact, and they make things so easy to carry.
5. Meal Prep
I wasn’t a believer until I started doing this. Meal prep changed my life! There are so many other things I have to worry about during the week, it was such a relief when I started meal prepping lunch and could cross that task off my to do list. And! Meal prepping means that you have more time in the morning to do things like sleep, or make sure you have a good breakfast.
6. Give Yourself Options
Even if you meal prep, that doesn’t mean you have to have the same meals or snacks every day! Package up a couple of different snack options so you can mix and match for yourself, depending on what you are in the mood for! Pack up a few different vegetable options, so you know can choose between carrot sticks and hummus or cucumbers and ranch. Don’t want an apple and peanut butter every day this week? Maybe try a banana with almond butter instead. The beauty of planning before you meal prep and pack your lunch is that you can be prepared for whatever food mood may strike you.
Benefits of Packing Lunch
There you have it! Some of my favorite tips for making packing lunch easy. While it may seem like going out for lunch is easier, often those meals are laden with sodium and other nutrients we want to minimize. By packing lunch you can control your portion, but still enjoy food that is delicious and healthy!
What is your favorite meal to pack for lunch? Let us know if the comments below! If you want to schedule an appointment with Klara or any of our nutrition professionals, please call 301-474-2499 or click here.
Whether you are a novice in the kitchen, or a seasoned chef, Dietitian Klara will work with you to help you reach your nutrition goals. Co-author of Nourished: 10 Ingredients to Happy, Healthy Eating, Cooking with Diabetes and Cooking with Food Sensitivities Guide.