The phrase “packing a lunch” almost seems like a foreign language to a college student. In my mind, it evokes memories of Capri Suns, Snack Pack puddings, and PB&J’s placed neatly into an L.L. Bean lunch box. A packed lunch is sooo grade school, right?
Wrong! Making the small change of packing your own lunch everyday could help change your health and improve your eating habits.
I know what you’re thinking – I barely have time to eat breakfast! How am I going to remember to pack a lunch without my mom doing it for me? With a few simple tips, you’ll soon be the coolest kid with a throwback Power Rangers lunchbox on campus.
Prep on Sunday
Sunday is the prime day to catch up on homework, recover from the weekend, and plan ahead for the week. So while you’re studying for your tests and figuring out which night you can go to Chuck’s, take some time to prep food for the week. I like to cut up fruit to put in my yogurt in the morning and use as a snack for lunch. Also, cut up some avocado, tomatoes and other veggies to throw on a salad. Having ready-to-go healthy food keeps you from being too lazy to get it together later in the week.
Perhaps the best way to prep is to make a simple dish on Sunday night and save the leftovers for the week. One of my favorites is chicken marinated in honey mustard and baked. It is easy, delicious, and tastes great on salads and sandwiches all week long.
Most importantly: invest in Tupperware to store your prepared food and keep it fresh all week.
Get the right snacks
It has been ingrained in our heads that snacks are bad for us, but that isn’t necessarily true. The problem is that people eat what’s most readily available, which is often chips or candy.
When you go grocery shopping, look in the produce aisle for pre-made snack packs. These often consist of a few different fruits or veggies in a good serving size. Avoid ones that include some kind of dip, as these can add unwanted calories.
These snack packs make it easy to grab and go when heading out the door. It also keeps you from getting that unnecessary bag of Ruffles from Food.com between classes.
Know what you’re buying
College students often make the mistake of buying whatever looks good when they’re grocery shopping. Instead, focus on what could be easiest to make when you’re in a hurry or just too lazy/incapable of cooking.
My go-to when grocery shopping is whole-wheat pita pockets. You can throw in lunch meat, veggies, chicken salad…really anything! Plus, it’s cheaper than going to Pita Pit four times a week.
Don’t overlook lunch options at the grocery store, either. Instead, think about what you usually eat for lunch and buy those ingredients. I know nothing can compare to that Jimmy John’s bread, but a loaf of whole wheat is better for you…and your wallet.
It seems like a lot of planning, but pretty soon thinking twice at the grocery story and preparing food on Sundays will be second nature. If you ever get lazy and feel the urge to grab Sbarro or a dining hall burger, just remember – if you pack your lunch, your body and your bank account will thank you!
By Marisa DeCandido
Photo Source: bodysite.com