I always thought the expression “Did you carry your lunch?” was funny. “Did I carry it where?” was always my first thought. But you’re better off if–more often than not–the answer is “Yes!” There are some compelling reasons why you should absolutely pack your lunch.
Cheaper. It’s less expensive, by far, than anything you’d buy at a restaurant or shop. Of course eating out is nice every once in a while to socialize or for a break. But if it’s the default, that’s tons of your money that could be better spent than subsidizing McDonald’s, Panera, or Chipotle.
It’s also less expensive for the planet. Instead of buying a bunch individually-wrapped, bagged items with a dozen napkins thrown in (that will go unused and likely be thrown out because they’re paper-thin, grease-stained, and smell like French fries), buy bulk and reuse packaging. It’s also a great way to use up leftovers.
Ultimately saves time and frustration. It may save you more time than you think. If nothing else, it will certainly save you some aggravation. Admittedly, I’m not fond of lunch packing time, but I’ve worked toward making it as effortless as possible. I make soups and stews in bulk, freezing them into individual portions. When I moved to a low-carbohydrate regimen, I kept a food log until I became accustomed to what was a well-rounded and satisfying meal, making it pretty easy to through something into a lunch bag.
Of course it takes time and planning to make a big pot of soup and ladle it into individual servings, but the reward is 15 lunches with that bit of up-front time investment. Instead of having to stop by somewhere and wait in line, at most it requires heating some food. Plus, you’ll never end up with the wrong thing.
The bit of time saved might not seem like a significant amount, but it gradually ends up saving hours over a year. The most valuable thing we as humans have is time, but we spend it mindlessly. We’re much more conscientious about how we spend money, but rarely consider how many minutes a day we waste on things that aren’t necessary or rewarding. Plus, it just makes for a less hectic day, leaving some time that could be used for mid-day meditation, relaxation, or taking a few deep breaths.
Better for you. You’ll likely eat something that’s better for you if you packed it. Relying on a restaurant–or worse, a vending machine! GASP!–introduces a temptation that would otherwise be avoided. And if you’re trying to lose weight, kick the junk food out of your life, or just feel better, it’s easier to fit into your daily planning.
You’re also likely to feel more satisfied, both physically and psychologically. You’re eating what you’ve prepared. You know it’s better for you, your wallet, and your clock. As the holiday season approaches, packing a lunch helps to counter the effects of some of the temptations that lurk around every corner, saves some money, and offers a bit of a break from a hectic time of year.