Save your health and wallet: Pack a lunch

What are the benefits of packing your own lunch when as a student you have access to all kinds of possibilities in the cafeteria?

It is a valid question.

When you pass by Einstein Bagels and the wonderful mixed smells of the fresh baked bagels and the strong aroma of coffee floats past your sleepy nose, it is difficult to resist. But it can be done, especially when you realize what consequences may seize you and shake you into reality later on when you are struggling to work off your weight and pay off your student loan debt.

So the most obvious thing is when you bring your own lunch is you save money. It may not seem like it at first when you’re buying the ingredients you need and it sounds time consuming. But in the long run, it is healthier for your pocket book and your body. Also, if you make it last, even though it grows tiresome to eat the same food all the time, you will thank yourself later.

Overall, what packing your own meal does is challenge how mindful you are about your habits and how healthy you actually eat. When you ask for extra cheese or another spoonful of sour cream on your Chipotle burrito or bowl, it increases your calorie intake when you should consume only 1,500 or under. Or you eat at Einstein Bagels for breakfast and later on, you go to Chipotle or Noodles & Company – that is quite an amount of carbohydrates.

Oh, and a note on carbohydrates. They are substantial for your fiber if you eat bread, especially from the bakery. Granted, it costs a few dollars more but it does not have the preservatives in it that Sara Lee has and you will enjoy your sandwiches more. Even if you eat the same thing every day, you will be amazed when you alternate between the different types of breads, meats, cheeses, vegetables, and spices or dressing. You use to making an interesting sandwich. If you think of food in terms of how it fuels you for the day, you make different choices that will help you, and you will discover how much better you feel, too!

Packing your own meal also teaches you to work within time limits. If you are running late to a class and want to grab something to eat, if you have prepared a snack bag of vegetables and some dressing on the side, you can retrieve the meal from the refrigerator and continue on your way. When you are at home and while you are studying for the next test, you can also improve your cooking skills, especially with the upcoming winter and your yearning for hotter dishes. You will teach yourself more self-sufficiency and even more responsibility.

On a final note, it’s not to say that you can never eat out or it is “bad” to indulge every once in a while. We all need that change and sometimes a different atmosphere or even another opportunity to visit with a fellow classmate. But by creating awareness of how much you are spending and what you are eating, you will improve how you feel about yourself and how you engage in your academic studies.

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