Time and time again, studies have proven that cooking at home leads to healthier eating choices than eating out. A John Hopkins study found that individuals that only cooked at home zero to one times per week consumed more daily kilojoules, fat and sugar than those that cooked at home more often. And a 2010 USDA study found that “for the average consumer, eating one meal away from home each week translates to roughly 2 extra pounds each year” and is “enough to shift the average adult’s diet quality from a classification of fair to poor.” While meal planning helps combat this problem, many adults struggle to find healthy and tasty lunch options they can prepare in advance that are portable enough to bring to work or when they’re on the go. So we’ve compiled our best lunch tips to inspire you to brown bag it more.
The first step in brown bagging it more? Planning ahead. Get some lunch ideas from friends or Pinterest, and be realistic on what you will really want to eat once noon rolls around. Because bringing a lunch you won’t end up eating will only waste time and money! Once you have some ideas, add your lunches to your Menu Planner, and shop for the ingredients you need or plan on making enough dinner to have leftovers for lunch. It may also help to keep a list of your favorite lunches, and what didn’t work, so you can have a good rotation of meals that won’t bore you.
Invest in Equipment
Another hurdle many brown baggers face is the portability of their lunch. You want to make sure your lunch will stay fresh and looking tasty after several hours that may include a car or public transportation ride and storage in a communal fridge. Investing in a variety of good, sturdy lunch containers and a quality lunch box or cooler can be the difference between eating and trashing your lunch. And if possible, stock your desk or eating area with napkins, utensils, extra seasoning, and other extras to help punch up your lunch if needed!
Have a Backup Plan
As we all know, some weeks are busier than others, and during busy weeks your meal planning may go by the wayside. But you can still avoid having a week of restaurant lunches if you have a backup plan in place! Try preparing some emergency freezer meals that you can grab when life gets hectic, such as a big batch of soup that you freeze in serving-size containers or slow cooker meals you just have to heat. Or utilize some grocery store cheats like buying a rotisserie chicken for sandwiches or salads or pre-cut fruits and vegetables to help get you through the week.
The trick to making any new system stick? Staying motivated! To stick to your new brown bag routine, try:
- Getting a friend involved – It’s always easier to stick to a new habit if you have some outside accountability. Ask a coworker if they want to have a brown bag lunch date a couple times a week, or ask your significant other to start bringing their lunch to work too.
- Putting up visual inspiration – Add some inspirational quotes or pictures to your Menu Planner or Memo Board or keep a tally of the health benefits you’ve achieved or the money you’ve saved.
- Rewarding yourself – Sticking with your new routine is easier when you celebrate your success! Maybe reward yourself with a new lunch container or a special lunchtime treat on Friday if you bring and eat your lunch all week. Whatever reward motivates you, include it in your plan for the best chance of succeeding.
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