It's hard for some people to commit to packing lunch. Some people aren't cooks. Some people aren't planners. And some of us are just lazy. Not to mention that in many places, there's delicious food around every corner just beckoning us to buy it. "Come on," these foods beg. "You can sleep in an extra 15 minutes and you won't have to do any dishes. Besides, we're french fries. You love french fries."
There are good reasons to pack your lunch. You probably already know them. Done right, it's cheaper and healthier. There's less waste, and you know exactly what you're eating.
So how can you learn to love lunch again?
1. Vary what you eat. When I was a high school freshman, I ate cheese pizza for lunch every school day. Then I refused to eat pizza for two years. Lesson learned. It's boring to eat the same thing day in and day out.
2. Make it special. Though a peanut butter and jelly sandwich may be tasty, it can be boring. An almond butter and mayhaw jelly sandwich is exciting. Exciting helps you resist going out for french fries or getting oreos from the vending machine. Special can also mean using your favorite lunchbox or napkin or the silverware your grandmother gave you.
3. Plan. At least a little bit. Keeping lunch staples around (and saving them for lunchtime only) keeps morning prep to a minimum. Even better, pack your lunch the night before.
4. Have a back-up plan. Humans forget things sometimes. It's bound to happen. Have a plan for days when there's nothing in the house to pack or you leave your lunch at home.
5. Pack substantial lunches. Try to pack a few things from different categories. Some possible categories are: protein, carbohydrate, vegetable, fruit, nuts, goodies, hot, cold, room temperature, crunchy, creamy, salty, sweet, spicy, green, red, yellow. For me, having variety is what makes food feel like a meal rather than a snack. Sometimes this means a soup of beans and greens and piece of fruit (categories: hot, cold, salty, sweet, protein, vegetable, fruits, blue, green). Sometimes it's a smorgasbord of leftovers. Besides being more substantial, variety in your meals means you're more likely to hit all the nutritional bases.
6. Be social. If your coworkers keep dragging you off to lunch, find other ways to spend time with them. Start a lunch swap. Organize a bring-your-lunch-to-work day. Meet up after work.
7. Or don't. Your coworkers are jerks? Getting out of the office doesn't have to involve food. Put on a pair of headphones, head out for a walk, find a place to eat outdoors, or read a book.
8. Keep yourself accountable. Make a lunch date with a coworker or friend. Keep track of how much money you're saving or the number of healthy non-fast food meals you're eating. Offer to cook for officemates occasionally as vegan outreach.
9. Reward yourself. Have a piece of chocolate or a great cup of tea after lunch. Or let yourself eat out occasionally.
10. Know your limitations. And work with them. If your idea of cooking is opening a jar of spaghetti sauce or microwaving an Amy's meal, don't plan to cook huge amounts of leftovers or bulk meals. It probably won't happen. And if you are a perfectionist, don't let that get in the way of packing your lunch. Meeting some of your goals is better than giving up and meeting none of them. Balance your expectations with your abilities.