Pack Lunch Every Day

— Written By and last updated by Patricia Burch

The other day my college roommate reached out and asked me to send her a salad recipe I always made when we lived together. It was from the cookbook my mom made for me when she sent me off to college. After I sent it to her we chatted about meal planning for the week. She said “If I don’t plan, I’ll be too tired to make anything and then I just eat terrible.” She was right! Often times, when we choose to forego the meal planning, we end up making unhealthy choices or eating out. When we eat out, we tend to consume larger portions than we normally eat which includes higher fat, higher salt, fewer whole grains, and fewer vegetables. It’s also typically more expensive than if we made our own.

Bringing a homemade lunch allows you to have more control over the portion sizes and ingredients. With a little planning, a packed lunch does not have to be plain, boring, or leave you hungry. Whether it’s leftovers from the night before, or throwing together a few easy items, you can include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein for a satisfying meal.

Like Melinda does, a simple way to pack lunch is to prep the weekend before. Mel thought about what would be tasty for lunch and made a batch for the week. She doesn’t mind eating the same meal for a few days, but she switches it up week to week. Set aside a few hours on Saturday or Sunday to meal prep, which will help you have a fresh and healthy lunch ready to go all week. You can do something simple like Mel, such as making a large batch of roasted chicken, roasted vegetables and brown rice (the chicken and vegetables can even be roasted together to save time). Place a serving of each into five containers and lunch is ready for the week.

My favorite way to pack a lunch is to make extra for dinner to eat for lunch the following day. This is great if you don’t have time to meal prep over the weekend. I typically buy a few meats (often cutting the servings in half, such as filleting the chicken breasts or cutting a pork chop in half), brown rice, and whole grain pasta, and several different vegetables. These tend to be our weekly staples and make great lunches for the next day.

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