Lunch is often an afterthought. Most of our mornings are far too hectic with snooze buttons, workouts, showers and last-minute scrambles to get ourselves, our kids, our pets and our partners fed, dressed and out the door. (Wow, even reading that sentence is exhausting.)
We often spend seconds thinking about breakfast, much less lunch. But if you’re looking to put more accountability into your eating habits, you probably already have a secret weapon in your kitchen.
Meet your lunchbox — or maybe it’s an unused kid’s lunchbox. So what if it’s got “Star Wars” or “PAW Patrol” characters on it? We’re not judging. For about $10, you can successfully manage your next meal with this one simple tool that just might be the key to shedding that extra handful of pesky pounds you can’t seem to shake.
YOU’LL PLAN AHEAD
Whether you pack your lunchbox the night before or factor in an extra 5–10 minutes before the morning commute is up to you. Simply having it thought out and consolidated eliminates last-minute drive-thru trips, vending machine lunches and office-cafe crawls, while also saving you calories, money and even time.
A successful weight-loss plan is just that: a plan. It’s knowing what to eat, when to eat it and when to stop. A lunchbox filled with healthy choices answers the what and the when — i.e., at lunchtime, not after a slew of meetings when you’re just looking to shove the closest $3 sandwich down your throat. It also tells you when to stop: when the lunchbox is empty.
Once you get into the groove of thinking about how you’ll fill your lunchbox, you’ll naturally start factoring in the time to pack it, adding the contents to your weekly shopping list and saving money, too.
YOU’LL ADD VARIETY TO YOUR DIET
Most trendy bento-style lunchboxes have three, four, even five areas for food. Sandwiches, salads and wraps are obvious fillers for the biggest compartment — all are great vessels for whole grains, lean protein and veggies. The smaller spaces work nicely for fresh cut fruit, yogurt, hummus, nuts, popcorn or even a piece or two of dark chocolate. By filling the spaces with healthy, nutrient-dense foods, you’ll be armed with plenty of supplies that allow you to skip the vending machine snacks.
The extra compartments allow for more creativity, too. Some lunchboxes function more like coolers, with cold packs or insulation in case your work space doesn’t have a refrigerator. Those options are great to keep things like salads, yogurt, tuna or chicken salad sandwiches and veggie-packed wraps fresher for a longer period of time, and they offer you more options than the processed, shelf-stable foods that once littered the classic lunch box.
YOU’LL MASTER PROPER PORTIONING
Lunchboxes are not designed to hold an oversize, restaurant-portion feast. The bento varieties naturally limit portions, and even those without dividers limit how much food you’re able to tote in one box. Unlike eating out — where you’ll be tempted to finish an oversize sandwich and fries just because they’re there and you don’t want to waste the hard-earned money you paid for them — packing a lunch enables you to be in control of how much you consume.
The key to successful weight loss can be as simple as arming yourself with the right tools.
Not sure where to start and what to pack?
If quick and easy is your need, start with this lineup of lunches ready in less than 15 minutes. For those organized enough to pack lunch the night before, here’s a list of boast-worthy, make-ahead lunches. And for those who simply want to be the envy of all of your co-workers, here’s a tasty lineup that upgrades your sad desk-lunch to stellar status.