Do you typically brown bag your lunch to work? If not, you might want to take note of National Pack Your Lunch Day, which takes place on March 10th, and start a new tradition. You may think it’s not worth the effort, but we disagree. In fact, we think we can convince you otherwise. Here are five of the top reasons you might not be bringing your lunch to work, and the counterarguments to each of them.
Who has time to throw together a meal when you’re rushing to get ready for work in the morning?
With just a little pre-planning, it doesn’t have to take more than a couple of minutes to prepare your lunch—and most of it can be taken care of the night before. If you take an extra step in your grocery shopping and purchase the ingredients for lunches as you already do for breakfast and dinner, you’ll have everything ready and can simply assemble it each evening so it’s ready to go in the morning. Or, if you like leftovers, cook a little extra each night and pack a portion up to have it waiting for you in the fridge.
It’s probably not any healthier to bring lunch from home.
The nutrition of your lunches depends on the choices you make, whether bringing lunch from home or eating a restaurant meal, but it is far easier to make good choices when you have control of the food preparation. Portion sizes in restaurants are typically much too big, leading to overeating. Plus, most restaurant meals are loaded with fat, salt, and calories. A 2016 study showed that more than 90 percent of restaurants in the U.S. provide servings that exceed the recommended number of calories eaten in a single meal. You can avoid that by packing simple, nutritious, portion-controlled foods, which will help prevent weight gain over time since five meals a week, week after week, can make a big difference.
What will I do with my lunch hour if I’m eating at my desk?
Take advantage of a great opportunity to get things done! If you feel like you never have time to fit in a workout during the week, here’s a free hour for you. Hit the gym if it’s nearby, go for a brisk walk, take on several rounds of the office stairs, or close the door to your office (or find one that’s not used if you’re seated in an open floor plan) and do a routine of calisthenics or yoga poses. Alternatively, you can run your errands during your lunch break and enjoy a little extra free time after work for your exercise. Or, if you are super busy on the job, work through lunch so you won’t need to stay at the office quite so late.
I’ll feel antisocial if I don’t have lunch with my coworkers.
Just because you don’t go out to lunch every day doesn’t mean you can’t be sociable. Invite your colleagues to brown bag their lunches and join you instead. You don’t need to eat alone at your desk if you like breaking up your workday by chatting with friends. Get together and bring your food to a lunch area or kitchen if your office has one, circle around one of your desks, or sit outside in a nearby park if the weather is cooperating. And if you’re going to try to exercise during lunchtime, offer your coworkers to work out with you.
I don’t want to bring a boring sandwich every day. I need lunch ideas.
Sandwiches are easy because they are very portable, and you won’t get sick of them if you vary them up rather than bringing the same exact thing every day. Switch off between whole-grain breads, wraps, and pitas and fill them with an assortment of lean protein and vegetables. Perhaps chicken with lettuce and tomato one day, then grilled peppers and zucchini with a bit of olive oil and spices the next. You can also alternate in salads and dinner leftovers in plastic containers for ease of use. Homemade soup, brown rice with vegetables, and lettuce wraps are also great options.
So, all the arguments against brown bagging have been dealt with. It’s time to get healthy!