Eating healthy is tough, especially when it comes to eating in the workplace. The temptation to grab a burger with coworkers on your lunch break sometimes overcomes that little voice inside your head that says you do not need to spend the money or you do not need the calories. However, if you do not go to lunch with your coworkers, you then receive the label of being the “antisocial one.” Who wants that title? No one, I am sure, but then again, who wants the title of overweight and broke? Packing your lunch on a daily basis is one of the easiest ways to save on food costs during the work week, as well as cut out calories and assist in weight loss. Once you start, you will not want to stop. The pros simply outweigh the cons in the end.
These days it seems everyone is trying to save money when they can. You may not realize it at the time, but if you add up all of the meals eaten out during any given month, you may be shocked at just how much you spend on lunch alone. If you choose to eat at a fast-food place, you are likely to spend anywhere from $6.00 to $12.00 on one meal. Eating at a sit-down establishment is even higher, adding in the tip for your server. Multiply those daily amounts by five and see just how much you spend each week. If you are able to handle the sticker shock, go ahead and multiple that figure times 52. You spend that much on eating out for lunch a year. Think of what you could do with that amount of money. It is enough to make you throw up that lunch you just shelled $10.00 for, is it not?
Arguably the most important reason people pack their lunches is it is simply healthier. When you are putting items together for a meal, you know exactly what ingredients are going into that dish. If you want a salad, you can put together the salad that is just right for you. If you want to make a smoothie, you know exactly what is going into it. On the other hand, if you are eating out, although the menu may tell you what is in the item you are ordering, few are realistic when it comes to calories and practically none list the additives that are almost always in a dish. The menus simply are not big enough to fit all of that into one teeny tiny space. Plus, how appetizing would those sound anyway? When you pack your lunch, you are using ingredients coming from your kitchen, food items you personally bought. You selected them and put them together because you like them and thought “hey, if I put all of this together, it will make one delicious dish!” Odds are, while you are packing that awesome lunch, you will be using mostly healthy ingredients, or if you are on a diet, packing your own lunch will hold you accountable and force you to make those healthy decisions actively.
Use up those leftovers
We all have them: the Tupperware containers in our refrigerator full of leftovers. After eating our meal, we put them there with the best of intentions, fully believing that we will, in fact, eat that leftover spaghetti. Flash forward one week. Said spaghetti is still there but is growing some kind of fungus that would require a scientist to identify before you can safely remove it. What happens to that food? It is thrown out. Money is literally put down the drain. The perfect solution to this travesty is to take this food with you to work for lunch the next day. Not only is it nutritious but it is a delicious option you simply cannot pass up, unless you made the worst dinner in the history of the world at which point you do need to ask yourself why you are saving the food. Most offices have a microwave, so why not throw that container in your lunch box and heat it up over the lunch hour. Save money and food and be healthy all at the same time.
More time for lunch, less rush
Most employees get one hour for a lunch break if working an eight hour shift. That one hour is well-deserved and should be utilized to the fullest. Step away from the desk and take a lunch. All work and no play make Jack a dull boy after all. The need for this break is often why employees will go out to lunch just to get out of the office. However, they do not really get a full hour to just unwind and relax. Time spent driving too and from the restaurant eats into that hour to the point where really, only 30 minutes is left to enjoy the break. If you choose to pack your lunch and to eat it somewhere on work property, you will get some of that time that would otherwise be lost. The trick is to make sure you actually do step away from the desk. Eat in the break room with the other smart coworkers who have chosen to pack their lunch, as well. You could come up with your own little “lunch club.” Eat outside if it is a nice day. Whatever you do, use that entire 60 minutes. Enjoy the fact that you are not fighting the lunch crowd only to shovel in an expensive and unhealthy meal quickly to make it back to the office on time. Plus you can avoid some of that heartburn that is inevitably going to follow eating too quickly.
Americans are notorious for our overeating and for our oversized meal portions. Take, for example, a combo meal at any fast food restaurant. You get to pick the size of your fries and drink from small, medium and large. Large is almost always an unreasonably huge amount of food that no mere human should be able to consume. This is not an eating contest. You do not win a prize for eating the largest portions possible.
However, you can still have the best of intentions when going out to eat and still get hit with a huge portion size. It is so hard to realize it as most restaurants bring out plates that are well over twice the portion allotment, but it is all on one plate, so surely one plate is a portion, right? Wrong! Avoid these tricks by packing your own lunch. You are the one in control, and you are the one who realizes how much you put into that lunchbox daily. If you only pack what you are supposed to eat at any given time, you will not be tempted to eat more. You may be tempted later in the day to hit up the vending machines for a snack, so in the event you are an afternoon grazer, pack a snack as well to head those thoughts off at the pass. Whatever you do, though, make sure you are packing the appropriate portion allotment for that specific food item or meal.
We are told to eat a specific number of vegetables, fruits, protein, and whole-grains daily, right? Aside from the fact that you can rarely hit all of these food groups when eating out for lunch or grabbing food from the cafeteria, you can also be creative in eating healthy. Lunch ideas are all over the Internet; one of these sources is Pinterest, of course. It is amazing what you can find out there, and if want to find a fun and different way to eat that celery that is taunting you in the refrigerator, look up celery and snacks on Pinterest and see all of the cool ideas people have put out there. The beauty of this is you do not have to figure it out for yourself. Make it fun so you actually enjoy opening that lunch box. Also, if you do plan on packing your lunch daily, try to not get into that rut where you pack the same turkey and cheese sandwich day after day after day. It will get old, only causing that temptation to eat out with coworkers to be that much stronger. Variety is the spice of life, so why not mix it up a bit?
Why not give it a try?
In the end, you have to look out for yourself as well as your pocketbook. Bow down to peer pressure and gladly take the title of being the “antisocial coworker.” Invite coworkers to join you. You cannot be antisocial simply because you are eating a homemade meal It may require self-control on your part, but the rewards are well worth the pain. So to quote Nancy Regan: “Just say no!” Your stomach may hate you for the moment, but your body and your pocketbook will love you in the end.