Earlier this week ‘Lean Green Dad’ a friend and former guest of the show posted on twitter that buying lunches everyday costs workers nearly $2,000 per year according to a workonomix survey.  I responded on twitter by adding how I feel healthier by packing lunch. As the day went on I kept thinking about how much of a ‘packed lunch’ fan I am and was inspired to write an instagram post about packing tips.

I pack my lunch almost 100% of the time. It not only helps you save money, but it also helps you eat healthier.  Whenever I do decide to go out for something to eat, I feel bloated and bogged down in the afternoon, so its not a great treat for me. With a little more explanation than on the instagram post, here are the tips I use to make brown bag lunches not so blah.

1. Pack something satiating- rice, beans, potatoes, noodles, etc. I find if I pack ‘lite’ meals I end up snacking more and feel more restless as the afternoon goes by. Packing something heavier helps to fill you up and keep you full. Once you’ve reached that ‘too hungry’ point its all over, you start reaching for the highest calorie foods (like nuts, chips, etc.) and end up feeling not great.

2. Pack something colorful- we eat with our eyes before our mouths. This like red peppers, bright greens, tomatoes bring the color. This trick helps in multiple ways. First, you’ll appreciate the ‘good looks’ when you open up that Tupperware and you have something that looks appetizing. Second, when you have bomb looking lunches people start to notice.  I find this is a good way to tell others about being plant based without feeling like you’re boring them- they asked first so you can elaborate a little bit. Lastly, you’ll get in more veggies and greens in your day- more nutrients for your bod!

3. Pack something you actually want to eat, not something you think you should eat.  This is a common mistake, you think ‘I’m going to eat lite tomorrow’ or ‘I should finish the X item in the fridge’.  Then you get to lunch and you’re like ‘I do not want to eat this’. Pack things you can look forward to, this will help you swerve the temptation to eat out.

4. Make extra for dinner so you have leftovers to pack for lunch.  When you’re done with dinner pack the leftovers directly in single serve Tupperware so you’re ready for the morning. This makes things super quick and easy, plus you know you have something good that you’ll want to eat.  You can make it different than the night before by adding avocado, or serving on a bed of lettuce, or in a tortilla if you’re the type who doesn’t like to repeat meals.

5. If you miss ‘getting out’ at lunch go for a walk or run errands.  I find this is the best trick, sometimes I listen to podcasts and walk around the neighborhood at lunch, other times I run to the grocery and library.  Just getting out and having some time to yourself, away from the office, really helps make the day more enjoyable.

6. Take hot sauce or other condiments to work so you can sauce before eating. If you pre-sauce you have a chance of having soggy food, if you bring the sauce it feels fresher and thus more enjoyable. Hot sauce, liquid aminos, and ketchup are all good, versatile, options.

7.Don’t be too much of a stickler, allow yourself to eat out every once in a while.  I try and say yes 90% of the time when people ask me to join them, so I probably eat out 1-2 times per month.  I will however go out for coffee more often since I feel like I’m still having the social interaction but don’t have to buy food. I know some people will go out and bring their packed lunch while others are eating the restaurant food.  Obviously this depends on where you are eating and if you feel comfortable, but I think its a good plan if you want to join others.

I hope these tips helped- I’m always trying something new and rediscovering good lunch recipes.  My favorite right now is a tried and true rice and beans, then I flavor the beans different ways to jazz it up . What is your favorite lunch packing tip? Anything you think I missed?

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