What To Pack For Lunch To Lose Weight

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Do you need some new ideas for what to pack for lunch to lose weight? I’ve read a lot of tips and tricks on what to eat for lunch and I have my own dietary needs, but most of it never takes into account the time factor in relation to meal prep.

I’m sure you’ve read a post or two (or twenty) about prep + planning that make it sound so easy. To me, they’re more like guidelines and exaggerations. After all, we don’t live in a perfect world — yet. We all have busy lives and it’s difficult to prep food in advance every week without fail.

What To Pack For Lunch To Lose Weight

Packing a lunch every day is a great way to start (or keep) healthy eating habits. When you’re stressed at work and pressed for time, or running from one errand to the next, fueling up often ends up being something you do in haste, desperation, or simply on the way to your next appointment. Preparing and packing a lunch ensures that you won’t be taken in by what’s convenient but less than ideal nutrition-wise. But packing lunch is also a lot more complicated than it seems like it should be, because time and planning are essential to making a meal that’s healthy, that satisfies, and that travels.

Maxine Yeung, R.D., C.P.T., and owner of The Wellness Whisk, tells SELF, “I’ve noticed that people tend to have more balanced dinners than lunches, likely because they are home cooking dinners and often eat lunch out or just pack a quick sandwich.” Besides being more expensive, buying lunch every day sets you up to accidentally eat more calories than you meant to (even if the store-bought lunch seems like a healthy option). And a hastily slapped together sammy is unlikely to have all the sustaining nutrients you need, so you’ll probably end up snacking later.

Throwing together a quick sandwich isn’t the only speedy brown bag lunch option, however. And according to Yeung, when it comes to packing a healthy, balanced, sustaining lunch, the secret is in the storage.

Before we get to the details, it’s important to note that weight loss as a goal isn’t necessarily for everyone, and healthy eating can look completely different from person to person. What works for some may not work for others. For anyone who has a history of disordered eating, even if you’re in recovery, you should speak with a doctor before you change your eating habits or pursue any weight-loss goal. Even if you don’t have a history of disordered eating, it’s really important to have realistic expectations and make sure you’re approaching weight loss in a healthy way. Many factors play into weight loss—like exercise, getting good sleep, managing stress levels, and genetics—so simply eating fewer calories may not bring the results you want. With so many factors at play, it’s no wonder weight loss varies so much person-to-person. But if you just want to eat healthier in general, these simple tips can help you do that, too.

The key to a properly prepped and packed lunch is containers that do the portion-control for you.

One way to make sure you’re getting the right balance of nutrients, especially at lunchtime, is to actually measure it all out. This can be harder to do when you’re putting things in a storage container compared to dishing it out onto a dinner plate, where it’s easier to visually judge portion size, Yeung notes. To properly measure out your packed lunch, you have two options. Either actually get your measuring cups and spoons out (a tedious task that may further put you off the lunch-packing grind). Or, do as Yeung suggests and invest in containers that will do the portioning for you.

She tells SELF, “While I don’t measure my food, I do have a variety of containers ranging in sizes from a quarter to two cups, which helps keeps my portions in control. For instance, I’ll pack nuts and hummus in my quarter-cup containers and fruit in half-cup containers. For packing entrees, I use the 2 cup size containers.” Bucking the trend of topping a base of grains with veg and protein, she uses what she calls her “reverse plating” method, filling the container halfway with veggies and splitting the remaining space evenly between whole grains and protein.

There are lots of great products for packing up a perfectly portioned lunch, including cute bento boxes and Weck jars. But you don’t need to buy anything special to make the system work. Yeung says that though she is particular about the sizes of her storage units, she isn’t picky about the containers themselves. “I don’t use anything fancy to pack my lunches. It’s usually mason jars and basic Tupperware,” she tells SELF. So if you’re ready to alter your lunch packing habits, there are plenty of affordable, handy, and BPA-free storage options you can buy. A better midday meal is just a new Tupperware container away.

Here’s How to Pack Your Lunch to Help Support Weight Loss

Before we even dive in, we know what you’re thinking. It’s way easier (like WAY easier) to grab lunch out with coworkers, right? Packing lunch is such a drag. Not only do you have to do all the things to get ready for work, but now you have to food prep? Yeah, we know, making your own lunch is a hard sell.

But, what if we told you it didn’t have to require a ton of your spare super-duper valuable time? We have solutions. We’re letting you in on some top-secret hacks that only the boss ladies know about when it comes to packing lunches for work with little to no time. Oh, and they’re weight loss-friendly. Pretty dope, huh?

So, let’s get to it. Grab your note pad, and jot down notes on what’s going to make your life easier when it comes to packing your lunch. Because guess what? Packing your lunch may be a gamechanger, helping you reach your health goals, no matter what they are.

Why Eating Lunch Out Every Day is Not Such a Great Idea 

Real talk-we need to talk about why eating lunch out can be a real buzz kill for your weight loss success. While that caesar salad and taco bowl may appear healthy (those salad dressing are quite deceiving), your daily lunch outing may be holding back your health success more than you know.

Here are just a few reasons why you may want to say no to that afternoon lunch date with your coworker BFF and ask them to join you in your brown bag lunch challenge instead.

Hello Sodium….and water retention

Let’s just take a moment to talk about the fact that sandwiches really aren’t all that healthy. Sandwiches are often a go-to lunch choice as they are easy, affordable, and can be woofed down at your desk. So, what’s the problem? Cold cuts are loaded with sodium, and too much sodium equals water retention. Too much sodium can lead to a higher risk of high blood pressure. So, the bottom line? Ditch the lunch sandwich. And, if you don’t want to totally give it up, make your own sandwich using one of our sandwich making hacks below.

Trans and hydrogenated fats

(yuck and yuck): Can we just say no to trans and hydrogenated fats? They are a serious no go when it comes to supporting health. They are notorious for increasing your risk of things like high cholesterol, diabetes, and heart disease. Yeah, no thanks. The problem here is that these fats may be hidden in that salad dressing your drizzle (aka pour) all over your salad, and any fried food you grab on the go. The biggest issue is that when you eat out, you don’t control what goes into the foods you are eating. These fats may pop up in places you wouldn’t expect, like that healthy-looking salad dressing.

Those Calories Add Up

While weight loss is definitely much more than just calories in, calories out, we have to be careful with how many calories we are eating when dining out.  Fast foods can rack up your calorie intake, quick. To help cut back on your calorie intake, making your lunch yourself is the ideal way to focus on quality foods and really make those calories count.

Let’s Talk Money Honey

We can’t forget the fact that eating lunch out can quickly lead to quite an expensive habit. With the average take out lunch costing $10, you could save yourself up to $200 per month, if you pack your lunch instead! So, from a financial standpoint, making your lunch just makes sense.

The Top Hacks You Need to Pack Your Lunch Like a Pro

#1 Make the Standard Sandwich Healthy

We already talked about how bad deli meat is, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to totally give up your fav lunch sandwich. Try making your own with roasted turkey breast or rotisserie chicken with some avo mayo, and all the fixings (lettuce, tomato, onion.) Lay low on the carbs by opting for lettuce leaves or even sliced bell peppers for the “bun.”

#2 Keep it Simple

Simplify your life by keeping your weight loss friendly lunch simple. Stick to the basics. Choose a healthy fat, clean protein, and complex carb. A great healthy lunch would be a large dark leafy green salad with two hard-boiled eggs, tomato, onion, sliced avocado, with a drizzle of raw apple cider vinegar. Serve this up with a side of hummus with bell peppers.

#3 Stock up on Storage Containers

When you prep lunch, having a handful of storage containers on hand is going to help make your life easier. Opt for glass to avoid BPA exposure, and if you’re really feeling fancy, get a bento box to fill with all your fav lunch goodies or mason-style jars for salads. Plus, glass mason jars get bonus points since you can use them for all of your post-workout shakes after you get your sweat dripping workout on using FitOn’s free fitness app.

#4 Use Leftovers

You know that healthy homemade dinner you had last night? Think about how you can double or triple your dinner recipes to repurpose for the following day’s lunch. Trust us, it will save you tons of meal prep time. Plus, leftovers can be delish. You can simply spruce up that zucchini lasagna with a sprinkle of nutritional yeast for added flavor and protein, and some freshly chopped basil for flavor. Yum!

Ditch the Daily Lunch Outings

So, there you have it. The four hacks you need to pack your weight loss-friendly lunch and ditch those daily lunch outings.

Eating more whole and nutrient-dense homemade foods vs. fast food lunches may be the trick to kicking your weight loss success into high gear.

So, what are you waiting for? Go old school, and pack yourself that brown bag lunch. Hey, you may just set a new healthy trend at the office all while boosting your health and saving yourself some cashola. Now, that’s a win.

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