As states start to open up, more people in the workforce are returning on site. This means that after months of working from home (and eating there), lunch is going to be a variable again. What to do? Packing your lunch can save you money and plus it’s good for your waistline. But there’s more to lunches than boring PB&J. Here are some tips to take your lunches to the next level:

Think Healthy

If you’re trying to lose or maintain weight, no doubt bringing your lunch to work will help you reach your goals quicker. In general, you’re going to want to strike a balance among macronutrients: protein, fat, and carbs. Using this as a foundation, you can build recipes that are satisfying and healthy. For instance, a salad in a Ball jar with greens, chicken, and a tasty salad dressing might fit the bill. If you use a calorie tracking app, you can calculate the nutrient facts. You have more agency when making your own meals because you can measure and control exactly what goes into each dish.

Stretch Your Budget and Efforts

If you have a large family or like to have certain staples on hand, shopping in bulk is an easy way to save some money. For instance, you might stock up on frozen vegetables at Costco. You can even do Sunday meal prep and put things in the freezer, so they’ll keep throughout the week. In this way, you can do the work once but extend the benefits. Now that’s smart, especially for people who hate to do the dishes.

Use Leftovers to Your Advantage

Did you make a big batch of spaghetti and meatballs last night? Why not savor the meal for lunch the next day? Entrees like pasta tend to keep their taste and freshness the next day. However, salads might not make the cut.

Be Realistic

Come to terms with your tastes and preferences. If the thought of having a hummus wrap for lunch turns your stomach, don’t pack it. Sometimes we have a tendency to force ourselves to eat certain things because it’s “healthy.” But this can be counterproductive. You might end up eschewing that wrap for a fast-food burger, costing you time, money, and your health. In this way, it’s better to pack something you like that happens to be on the healthy side.

Plan Ahead

Many people like to plan their meals out for the week on Sundays. Whether you use an app or an old-fashioned dry-erase board, what matters is that you have a way to hold yourself accountable to your menu.

Think in Practical Terms

If you’re serious about packing your lunch regularly, you’re going to want to invest in containers that keep your food fresh. Try to avoid plastic, as it’s associated with toxins. You can find dishwasher-safe bento boxes at your local grocery store or online.

 Find an Accountability Buddy

Trying to resist the temptation of going out to lunch? Join forces with a coworker at work with the same goal. You might eat together and even go for a walk before or after your break. There’s great power in accountability and a support system.

You’ve got this!

Lauren Caggiano

Lauren Caggiano

Lauren Caggiano is a Fort Wayne-based copywriter and editor with a nerdy passion for AP Style. In her free time, she enjoys volunteering, thrift shopping, fitness and travel. Learn more on her website: www.lovewriteon.com.