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How to Pack Eco-Friendly Healthy Lunches

Updated on August 29, 2013

Packing lunch from home may seem like a time-waster in the morning, but it doesn’t have to be a painful process and actually has some great advantages. Firstly, it’s healthier than grabbing a burger and fries or a pre-made sandwich. Since you are in control the ingredients, you’ll know exactly what has been put inside which will be far less in sodium and preservatives.

It is also incredibly earth-friendly; instead of buying a meal that comes wrapped in plastic, placed in a paper container, all contained within a paper bag, pack it yourself. You’ll be saving a lot of packaging materials that ultimately end up in landfills. Simply make a delicious lunch at home and pack it in your own washable and reusable containers.

Perhaps the biggest pro for many is that preparing your own lunch is the financially viable option for any person new to the working industry. If you’re on an entry-level’s salary, relish in the fact that you’re also saving a whole lot of cash. While your colleagues are spending in-between $5 to $10 dollars per lunch, you’ll pocket that money by eating a healthier lunch made by your own hands, or if you’re still lucky, by your mom’s. Think of the money you could save for that vacation in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic with your buddies or the new iPad you’ve been coveting. You can easily save $100 to $200 monthly by spending the extra 10 minutes at night making your lunch for the next day. It doesn’t have to be difficult nor do you have to sacrifice on sleep.

Below you’ll find the 10 Commandments to making an awesome lunch for work or school and 5 Pinterest recipes that are easy to replicate but will have you excited come 12 o’clock.

The 10 Commandments of Packing Lunch

1. Thou shall not assume a sandwich is the only kind of lunch food.

Wraps, salads and leftovers are all great options that make lunch a more exciting meal to look forward to. There are moments when you are bound to strategically forget your lunch at home so you can go out to eat with your friends if you are not looking forward to the meal you have made. Make it with care so you can enjoy every meal.

2. Thou shall not skip breakfast.

Skipping breakfast is a sure-fire way to getting you to stop at McDonald’s for a McMuffin mid-way through your morning, or Dunkin Donuts for a fully-loaded everything bagel with veggie cream cheese. Nom nom! Sure it might be full of protein because of the egg patty or you can justify your bagel because of the vegetables in the cream cheese, but these delicious delights will take away from your budget and add themselves to your hips while you toss out all the waste you’ve created by making your purchase. Eat a healthy, fiber rich breakfast at home; it will fuel the start of your day.

1. Thou shall remember thy important food groups.

Remember to always pack a protein, a carb and dairy but also keep in mind all the colors of the rainbow. A 2006 Neurology study shows that people who have 2 or more daily servings of their vegetables, especially leafy greens, have improved mental focus while other studies have shown whole grains help you maintain mental focus. Different food groups offer different nutritional treasures we need to continue our day and be the most productive possible.

2. Thou shall pack 2 mid day snacks with thy lunch.

Packing snacks will keep your tummy from rumbling and your mind from wandering off to decadent snacks found at the convenience store next door to your office. Pack yogurt and granola for a mid-morning snack and an apple for your mid-afternoon snack. If you’re also headed to gym don’t forget to add a banana for extra fuel to get you through your workout.

3. Thou shall limit thy eco-impact.

Remember, by just washing your containers and making your own lunch from home you are simultaneously limiting your eco-impact. Buying pre-packaged foods and take-out might be fast and convenient but ultimately, you are creating more waste. Oprah-approved “Lunch Skins” are a great way to step away from plastic bags by using reusable and stylish sandwich bags instead. Also check out Bento boxes. These are a Japanese way of creating cute and whimsical lunches but can be used in more manly ways as well. Bentos are great because of their many sealable compartments that all fit into one another. Check out these by Laptop Lunches.

1. Thou shall pack the night before.

If you make the effort to pack your lunch the night before, you’ll be able to sleep an extra ten minutes in the morning without having to fumble through the kitchen, putting together a sub-par lunch. Wake up and only worry about showering, getting dressed and your morning fuel. It will make for a smoother start to your day.

2. Thou shall cook an extra serving of last night’s dinner for today’s lunch.

Cook a little bit more and pack it away for tomorrow’s lunch. This is an easy and quick way to have a great meal for lunch the next day. This, in turn, means you’ll never eat a sandwich that consists of mayo and cheese between two stale slices of bread. If you made chicken last night, turn it into a chicken salad or tacos. The meal doesn’t have to look the same. Get creative with yesterday’s leftovers.

3. Honor thy Mother Earth.

Eat your grains as Mother Nature intended them to be.

It is actually cheaper most of the time to purchase the whole grain pasta and breads, so go for that option. Whole grains are filled with more nutrients, such as vitamin B and fiber, than their bleached friends.

4. Thou shall not forget thy water bottle.

Staying hydrated is really important, but forget about buying bottled water and sugary beverages. Instead bring your water bottle and fill up at the water cooler at work. You’ll still be drinking filtered water but you won’t have to make a purchase and cause more plastic ending up in our landfills. Sugary drinks are also no good. It might be labeled ‘fruit juice’ but once the fruit is processed and preservatives are added, it’s just as good as drinking your favorite soft drink. Choose instead to squeeze your own oranges for orange juice because it will be filled with vitamin C and get your day going in the brightest way.

5. Thou shall not be lazy and pack lunch in disposable plastic bags to skip washing your container.

Put the Ziploc bags away and pick up the sponge. There is no use buying great reusable lunch items if you are going to be lazy about washing them. Keep in mind your carbon footprint and put in the effort for an eco-friendly, healthy and homemade lunch.

Packing lunch can be a great way to keep you motivated throughout your long grueling day. Take some advice from the 10 commandments of packed lunches and check out some Pinterest pins to get you motivated on packing lunch. You’ll ultimately benefit by having two snacks to fuel you in-between meals and a lunch that will be tasty and filled with beneficial nutrients. You’ll get all this and save money while helping save the earth as well.


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    • Nancy Owens profile image

      Nancy Owens 

      5 years ago from USA

      What good advice for us all!


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