How to Pack a Satisfying Lunch

January 27, 2009

For those of us on a tight budget, packing lunch can save a lot of money. This is only true, however, if the lunch is satisfying. If it’s not – if it’s unappetizing, unbalanced, or simply too small – most of us will head straight for a coffee shop or pizza place where we can satisfy our appetites. Saving money requires satisfying lunches.

A satisfying lunch meets five criteria:

1. It has enough calories to be filling. It really doesn’t do any good to restrict the number of calories you pack – if you haven’t packed enough calories to satisfy yourself, you will buy enough calories to satisfy yourself, and that will be more expensive.

2. It is appetizing. If an apple is going a bit rotten or a banana is so badly bruised that you really can’t bear to eat it, you won’t. Packing an unappetizing piece of food is just as bad as not packing at all – food only does you good if you eat it.

3. It is balanced. For a meal to be satisfying, it needs to contain carbohydrate, fat, and protein. If you leave any of these macro-nutrients out, you’re certain to run out and buy whatever you need to make up the deficiency, and for good reason. Your body needs you to feed it all three of these things at reliable intervals, and it panics when you cut one of them out.

4. It tastes good to you. A meal needs to satisfy our mouths, not just our stomachs. If the lunch tastes bad to you, you’re likely to pick at it, then go buy something that does tastes good. You’re much better off packing something tasty in the first place.

5. If there’s something you really need to eat everyday – and by need, I mean something that you crave so strongly that you will run out and buy it at 2 p.m. no matter what you resolved this morning – your lunch should include it. If you can be honest with yourself about what you need, and reliable about providing it, you’ll do much better when it comes to packing and eating your lunch.