Brown Bagging

Why Packing Your Own Lunch Makes Sense

Whether you are an independent teen or a parent hoping to give your child a healthier lunch, packing your own lunch is often the way to go. School lunches continue to made headlines across the US for counting pizza as a vegetable and doing other ‘screwie’ things designed to make lunches healthier. Problem is that many of the cafeteria staff and food service companies do not know how to use the guidelines and make nutritionally complete meals that are both appealing and taste good. An additional truth is that although school lunches should be healthy, cash-strapped education bodies often just don’t have the cash or the employees it takes to cook fresh, healthy meals every day. Here are some really good reasons to pack your own lunch box or bag.

The right to choose: Often, students don’t like what’s on offer for lunch and will opt for things they can count on like pizza, PB & J, or fries. If you pack your own lunch, you get to choose what you want to eat and look forward to it. This also gives you the opportunity to make healthier lunch choices. Just because lunch is healthy, doesn’t mean it has to be boring, put some work into preparation the day before so that you are not rushed in the morning. For Parents of younger children please note that involving your child in the making of their lunch is a great way to: 1. increase knowledge of healthy foods, 2. increase acceptance of what is packed (i.e., they will eat it!), 3. teach them sanitary food handling, 4, teach them how to do by their self, 5. promote responsibility and 6. spend some quality time together.

Variety is the spice of life: Eating the same tired old food every day from the cafeteria will have you wishing for a change. Packing your own lunch (even if it’s only a couple of days a week) means that you get a chance to eat your favorite foods and give yourself a welcome change. It also means that when you do eat hot dogs or pizza at school, you will enjoy it more. You also might find that after some time your body tells you these things are not healthy because of the excess sugar and salts used in them. I know my family could not go to a Burger King, Mc. D’s or Wendy’s and eat a meal since the after effect would be bloating, diarrhea, and energy high and then crash.

Fuel your brain: Despite the fact that your brain only accounts for 3% of your body weight, it uses a massive 20% of the energy you consume. Keep your brain fueled throughout the school day with healthy snacks high in fiber, carbohydrates and protein. Refueling will mean you feel less tired during the day and remember much more of your lessons, which makes studying for tests so much easier!

Show me the money: Avoid using lunch money to buy lunch. You will be far too tempted to invest in pop or junk foods from the vending machine (if the school still has them). Instead, opt for homemade lunch and save your money for something useful. Help to motivate yourself by putting your lunch money into a jar or savings account and saving up for something you really want like a new skateboard, a game, clothing, phone or music player.

Making your own lunch does take time and discipline. If you don’t have time in the mornings, try getting everything ready the night before. If you are too busy during the week, consider cooking soups, pasta dishes or meals on the weekend and freezing them in individual servings. Make sure your lunch is interesting and appealing or it may just end up in the garbage like so many purchased school lunches do.

Note: This blog was adapted from the Tutor Doctor Corporate Blog posted 4/16/12 titled “School Lunch: It’s In The Bag

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Filed under Health, Nutrition Education, Parenting

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