The Healthy Habit That Has Made My Afternoons Better

I always had the best intentions of packing my lunch| but putting this healthy habit into practice was a different story. I was always filled with lunch ennui and jealous vibes when I would see my co-workers with their cute tupperware containers and mason jars stocked with fresh ingredients that looked much more appetizing than whatever I had grabbed out of necessity.

Occasionally| I would be inspired to have a productive Sunday afternoon where I would cook up a batch of my favorite chili or buy a ton of groceries (that I would never finish)| but inevitably once Wednesday rolled around| I would be back on the street| trying to figure out what sounded good to eat. Once I got in the groove of packing my lunch the night before ¡ª and remembering it before I left the house ¡ª the shift to making this a daily habit became natural. Here’s why you should try it| too.

It’s Much More Satisfying

At first| the idea of packing my lunch felt like a sacrifice| but since I started bringing healthy recipes to work| I have not looked back. Nine times out of 10| my homemade lunch is more palatable and filling than any grab-and-go salad| sandwich| or soup on the block. I’m able to bring foods that are rich in fiber and protein to fuel my brain as I write| and I steer clear of ingredients that make my blood sugar spike or leave me wanting a snack right after I eat. This was the big kicker for me that made this healthy habit stick for good.

I Always Know What I’m Getting

Even when the ingredients are listed on the menu| you never know just how much butter| oil| or other condiments have been used in preparation at a restaurant. Most lunch spots are in the business of making something tasty| so even if a meal “sounds” healthy| we know that’s not always the case. When I layer my ingredients and prep my homemade lunch| I always know exactly what I’m getting| so I can make sure it supports my needs.

I’ve Maintained My Weight Loss

Portion control has always been a big issue for me; if there is food on my plate| I’m going to eat it. By packing my own lunch| I’m easily able to manage portions and be cognizant about my ingredient choices. Eating a cleaner and lighter lunch not only supports my general weight-loss goals| but it also makes space for the occasional weeknight dinner out where I can indulge freely. There’s no reason to waste calories on a sad fast-food lunch!

It Saves Money. Big Time.

When developing my budget for 2015| I made a point to get real about the superfluous expenses I did not even realize I had. I knew that this meant regular Uber rides to work and daily coffees from the shop by my apartment had to go| but until I looked at my credit card statement| I had no idea how much money I was spending on my lunch every week. It’s tough in downtown San Francisco to find something that’s fresh| nutritious| and filling for under $10. That’s $50 a week I could be saving . . . or spending on SoulCycle.

Here’s What to Pack

Part of making this shift stick is to pack a lunch that doesn’t feel sad or unsatisfying when lunchtime rolls around. Try these 50 healthy lunch recipes| or cook these dinner recipes that make even better leftovers. If you’re looking to lose weight| check out these lunchtime rules| and pack accordingly.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Jenny Sugar