How I Made Brown Bag Lunches Work For Me

For the last several months, I’ve primarily been brown bagging my lunches at work, taking either leftovers or extremely simple home-prepared foods with me to work to eat at lunch time. I admit that there was some serious resistance on my own part to starting brown bagging – I had a litany of excuses for why I shouldn’t.

Reasons Not To Brown Bag It

Brownbagged food is terrible Leftovers for lunch? A cheese sandwich for lunch? Blech.

Networking opportunities are lost The Never Eat Alone philosophy basically states that, well, you shouldn’t eat alone. If you bring in a brown bag and eat at your desk, aren’t you violating that?

It takes time at home to prepare a brown bag lunch This just means more time devoted to your job, doesn’t it? Plus, food preparation can be boring for some.

Remembering it This was actually a major issue for me – my morning routine didn’t include remembering a brown bag lunch, so I would often forget it at home.

Reasons To Brown Bag It

It saves money Eating leftovers and simple meals from home is far cheaper than eating a take-out lunch or going out to lunch with coworkers. Done every day, this can be a large wad of cash.

It saves time Microwaving a brown bag meal (and some of them don’t even need that) takes only a moment or two, then you’re eating and done.

Turning The Negatives Into Positives

Making brownbagged food good Previously, I wrote a substantial amount of advice on how to make leftovers quite tasty – mostly, it’s the spices and knowing how to use them. But what about other foods? If you prepare your own simple food (like sandwiches) for a brown bag lunch, use good ingredients. Select a tasty bread, get quality meat, cheese, vegetables, and condiments, and make appealing sandwiches. Also, select sides that excite you and use some variety – I love eating broccoli florets, but I try all sorts of things on the side.

Find new ways to network See if there are people that also brownbag it in the community break room at work (if there’s one available to you). Look outside your building. You’ll usually find some people that are brownbaggers that you can get to know. In fact, at one job, I found that the head of the organization was a faithful brownbagger and often viewed the other brownbaggers as the sensible people in the group. What about the others you’ve abandoned? It’s fine to eat out with them on occasion – just don’t make a habit of it.

Prepare your brown bag at the same time you prepare supper I found that preparing my lunch for the next day as I prepare supper (or dish up supper) the night before works well. Just serve a meal into a Tupperware container or, if that won’t work, spend the time while supper is being prepared setting up your lunch for the next day. That way, in the morning, you can grab it and go.

Use a morning routine checklist This seems silly, but I found that making a morning routine checklist after my son was born was actually a huge help in getting me to remember everything I needed to do in the morning, as I usually had pre-work tasks to do, had to get my son ready for daycare and take him there, and so on. Make one, laminate it, and use it without shame in the morning – that’s what I do.

Brown bagging can save a lot of money in the long run – don’t let lame excuses hold you back.