What’s cheaper than a gym membership and can keep your health and diet goals on track? The answer is simpler than you think.
It’s 2017, which means it’s time to follow through on our New Year’s resolutions! The problem we find with resolutions, however, is that even with sincere intentions, sometimes we aren’t patient enough to wait for the results. (If it sounds like I’m pointing fingers, you should know I’m also pointing one at myself.)
Whether you have goals of losing weight, saving money, learning to cook or becoming more organized, the only thing you need to keep your healthy New Year’s resolutions is a lunch bag.
A lot of people will tell you that being very specific about your New Year’s resolutions makes them easier to attain – and they’re right! Since some of our trickiest habits to break involve poor eating habits, incorporating a lunch bag into your daily lifestyle can create an easy, inexpensive way to help with all kinds of New Year’s resolutions.
1. Eating Healthier & Losing Weight
A lunch bag offers you one very important thing: control. While you can never be too sure what’s really in your store-bought burger or sandwich, packing your own lunch ensures that you know what’s going into your lunch and can easily monitor your intake of the various food groups. Portion control is a huge part of this process.
Fun fact: There is a peak in google searches for portion control right after New Year’s. This means people are looking to start the new year with a focus on their diet related goals. Do you want to become more ‘portion aware’? Keep reading!
Portion control means learning about serving sizes of foods, as well as how many calories each serving contains. In its most basic form, it helps people to gain control over their diets and to become more aware of what they’re putting into their bodies. Portion control is very popular for individuals who are working on weight management or monitoring their daily intake, but it’s also a good way to eat healthy and be aware of calorie intake.
There are various ways to incorporate the practice of portion control into your daily eating. Some people like to be very specific with their measurements, while others use basic size references to figure out portions. Here are some of the options you have:
Object association is a very basic form of portion control. This method requires food portions to be compared with everyday objects that are similar in size and weight, and it’s very helpful if you’ve left your measuring cups at home! E.g.- Three ounces of cooked poultry or fish is approximately the size of a deck of cards. See the guide below for more ideas!
Portion sized or marked containers and dishware take all of the time and guesswork out of making your serving sizes. Simply follow the measurement guides on containers to fill them with the correct amount or make your own labelling system! You can use various shapes for different measurements, or color-coded lids to differentiate between portion sizes.
Portion control plates are a very handy item to keep with you, especially if someone else is making your meal. Bring these plates along and you’ll know how much to serve yourself of proteins, starches and vegetables.
Hand Measurements are a super quick way to figure out portion sizes and calories. Check out the guide below for easy ways to measure with your hands:
Once you’ve mastered the art of portion sizes, pre-portioning will make meals a breeze! This kind of practice is like anything else—if you do it consistently for a month, it will become second nature. A lot of people swear by pre-portioning, since you can prep all of your healthy meals in a solid block of time and then have the convenience of grabbing them on-the-go for the rest of the week.
You can make portions ahead of time to keep in the fridge for lunches, or freeze portions that you can easily cook for dinner. (Pre-portioning is also super easy for everyone in the household to help with! Ahem…)
You can get really creative with this kind of routine – prep smoothie ingredients, vegetable medleys, various chicken flavors and more. Be sure to always prep your protein, starch and vegetables to ensure that you’re getting the proper nutrients at lunch.
Time for a confession: Most of the vegetables I used to skip were ones that took time to wash and cut. (i.e. broccoli, peppers, etc.) To avoid this issue, I prepare serving sizes ahead of time and store them in my Interlockers® for grab-and-go convenience.
Here are some tips to help with your healthy eating resolutions:
Don’t skip meals
Your body gets hungry for a reason, and ignoring that need for too long will eventually catch up with you. Skipping meals can cause you to overeat later on, which can ruin all that hard work you’ve been doing!
Make treats less accessible
We all know how hard it is to stop enjoying our favorite bag of chips when the whole thing is in front of us. Avoid the temptation by portioning some out into a bowl and leaving the rest in the cupboard. This way, you still get your treat but you’re cutting back on the excess.
Practice good eating in every environment
Going out for lunch or dinner doesn’t have to mean overdoing it. There are many establishments that have cut back on portion sizes or that offer more menu items for dietary restrictions. That being said, some restaurants will still serve you double or triple the regular portion sizes.
2. Cutting Back on Sweets
We know how hard it is to stay in control when it comes to bags of chips, baked goods and cookies. One great solution is to bring a small container filled with your guilty pleasure (no comma here) to avoid being tempted to stick your hand into the bag for “just one more handful”.
Want to know my favorite healthy snack? These little guys pack a ton of protein and lots of rich flavors. They have a chewy, moist texture like a delicious dessert. Just grab a few and go! They’re sooo good.
Stir all of the following ingredients together, and shape into small balls. Allow them to set in the fridge for an hour before eating:
- 1 cup oatmeal
- ½ cup toasted coconut
- ¼ cup protein powder (vanilla or chocolate)
- ½ cup almond butter
- ½ cup dark chocolate chips
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- ¼ cup flaxseed
- 3 tbsp. honey
- ½ cup dried cranberries
Source: Herbs of Gold
Check out these junk food substitutes for even more success!
If you’re being very meticulous about your new diet, portion control containers are the perfect tool for monitoring your intake. Not only that, but BPA free containers are re-usable and much better for the environment. You can easily stack them in your fridge with pre-cut snacks and even use different colored lids to organize the food groups. Check out this blog for suggestions on how to organize your lunch.
3. Becoming More Organized
When you introduce a lunch bag into your routine, a lot can change. This not only includes your eating habits but your organization and planning habits as well. If you’re keen on improving your organization, committing to packing your lunch can be a great motivator.
Here are some organization tips to help you plan better:
Make a list, check it twice
The only thing better than putting together a To-Do list, is being able to check everything off! Get your organized year in gear by adopting the practice of list making to ensure that you don’t forget anything, no matter how small it is. Check out these tips to make your list more efficient:
- List your tasks in order of importance: This will make you less likely to skip over the things that require more attention.
- Be specific: If you have a large project due in a few weeks, break down what you want to get done by day or by week. “Get Project Done” is not specific enough and will likely give you the excuse to put it off. (This is also true for your grocery list—be specific about what you need for your weekly meals so you don’t find yourself overspending or buying junk food!)
- Have the list represent the entire week: This will give you a better idea of how much time you need to get things completed.
- Make sure your list is always visible: Having a visual reminder of your goals will keep you on track!
Schedule your upcoming week
Utilizing a wall calendar or scheduling app is perfect for organizing your upcoming week. I use both options; one in the kitchen and one on my phone so I can check it on-the-go or while I’m making meals. Here’s how to improve your organization:
- Fill out your calendar for the upcoming week as early as Saturday. This will help you to recognize when you’ll be around the following week and what days you’ll need to pack lunches. If Sunday is your day for groceries, this will also help you plan out what you need to pick up.
- Write in what meals you’ll be having each day. This way, you’ll know what to prep on the weekend or what dinners to cook extra portions of for next day’s lunch. (You’ll be so happy you’re not racking your brain for lunch ideas at 8:00AM!)
- Most calendar apps for your phone will suggest alarms a few hours or days ahead of an event; set these little reminders so you can stay on top of your schedule.
- Here are five organization apps to try, including a mind-mapping application for all of your great recipe ideas!
Source: Urban Parent
One of the most dangerous assumptions we make is that eating out is convenient, and packing a lunch requires time and thought. The real convenience is having a lunch bag at your fingertips, full of your favorite things and ready whenever you are. After all, organization in all aspects of your busy life starts with solid preparation and a full stomach!
4. Saving Money
If you’ve gotten used to eating out at lunchtime, packing a lunch might seem daunting at first. Luckily, eating in is one of the easiest ways to cut back on weekly spending! If your New Year’s resolution is to be more frugal, you can start saving money even if you’re only bringing a lunch a few times per week.
Here are the basics. Let’s say that a cheap lunch out costs around $12. If you’re eating 5 lunches out a week, that adds up to $60/week, $240/month or $2,880/year!
Now, if you pack a lunch 3 days a week and only eat out twice, you could be saving yourself as much as $1,728. (If another one of your New Year’s resolutions is to travel, $1,728 would definitely help!)
Here are some tips to get you excited about lunch making:
Ease into it.
Starting a new habit isn’t always easy. If you’re accustomed to eating out often, packing a lunch 5 days a week could turn you off of the commitment quickly. Ease yourself into it by making lunches 2-3 times a week, ensuring you pack hearty meals that you’re excited about.
Eating out a few times a month is still acceptable, especially if that’s your time to catch up with coworkers or to treat yourself to your favorite restaurant. As you become more comfortable with food preparation, packing a lunch will get easier.
Aside from saving money on groceries, using reusable containers in your lunch can also make an impact on your wallet. Ditch disposable baggies and go for reusable containers that will keep your food safe and fresh. This is especially helpful if you’ve got children to pack lunches for, as this will make their food easier to access, eat and organize. Check out the potential savings of going reusable:
Source: The Huffington Post
Display your savings.
Eating in today? Feel free to drop a five or ten-dollar bill into a lunch jar! It can be very effective to have a visual of just how much you’re saving when you decide to pack a lunch. Keep the jar somewhere near the kitchen to remind you of your resolution and how easy it is to save.
5. Learning to Cook
There’s nothing like a lunch bag to remind you to cook something. Getting into the habit of packing a lunch is a great excuse to learn and practice new recipes!
Here are 5 of our favorite recipes from Arctic Zone to give you some inspiration!
- Egg White Omelet Wonder
- Couscous and Tuna Tango Salad
- Harvest Salad
- Easy Broccoli Stir-fry
- Wild and Free Jar
Up for a challenge? Check this one out:
6. Controlling the Hanger
Hangriness affects 1 in every 3 people. (Okay, we made that up. But it sounds serious, doesn’t it?) If being hangry around lunch time is a constant problem in your life, packing snacks is the easiest way to combat it.
Effects of Hangriness include lack of focus, possible illness, tiredness and classic mood swings, not to mention potential friend loss, raised voices and dramatic statements such as “I just literally CANNOT today!” and “Why does this e-mail even exist?!”. Without the right sustenance, you’re setting yourself up to feel crummy. If you care about your colleagues, pack that lunch!
The bottom line is, packing a lunch isn’t what it used to be. Lunchtime has evolved! Now you can choose from fashionable, functional lunch bags that complement your personal style. Big personality? Go for a bright pattern. Corporate meeting downtown? Try a professional lunch bag that carries like a handbag. Whatever your style, investing in packed lunches can make a huge impact on your resolution to stop spending at lunch.
Lunch bags can be a huge help when it comes to making life smarter, healthier and easier! Whatever your resolutions are this coming year, we hope that we can be a part of them.