By Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN
Considering bringing your lunch to work? You should: Not only does brown bagging it save you money, it can also help with your weight loss efforts. Plus, bringing your lunch to work is a great way to ensure that you get lots of healthy nutrients from your meals and leave lunch hour feeling energized for the afternoon. Here are five great reasons to brown bag your lunch:
The first — and maybe most interesting — benefit to bringing your lunch to work: It might help you shed a few pounds. Bringing food from home almost always means fewer calories due to more controlled portion sizing. When cooking at home and packing your lunches, make sure to keep portions for salad dressings, oils, nuts, grains and other higher calorie foods reasonable, while increasing the amount of low calorie foods like vegetables and fruits included in your lunch.
Cost savings is another great reason to bring your lunch to work. Most of us could save between $20-$50 weekly if we skipped purchasing lunch at work. Over time, that money really adds up! Sure, you may have to increase your grocery shopping costs for the week, but aim to look for sales at the grocery store. For example, Sundays are generally days where there are more sales on produce and protein. You can also purchase at the farmers market where produce can be more affordable too.
Bringing lunch means that you’re not standing in line with the rest of your coworkers to purchase food. This means more time to relax and enjoy your food without feeling too hurried. You can use this extra “you” time to meditate, go for a walk, get ahead on projects or just relax.
It’s not just the food we eat that brings satisfaction, but the situation in which we eat our food. As I mentioned above, you may find that you have more time to eat your food, which means you’re not rushing. This leaves you with more time to slow down, enjoy your food and feel fuller and satisfied. Boost your mealtime satisfaction by giving yourself 15 to 20 minutes to eat each meals, taking deep breaths while you eat, turning off electronics and distractions and focusing on what you’re eating.
Even though the local deli may promise the freshest produce, the reality is that it probably quite as fresh as we might imagine. You’re more likely to get a fresher meal and more nutrient-dense produce when you bring your lunch from home. With the control of being able to purchase food and bring with you to work, you can make choices like organic and local produce and grassfed/wild protein. Over time it does make a difference to have better quality produce.
A few ideas to help you pack your best lunch: