There are many reasons why people would go through the trouble of packing a lunch every single day. Some people may be obsessed with saving money. Others may have dietary considerations, and find it easier to control what they eat by making it themselves. Still others do it for budgeting reasons and the simple cost savings of purchasing groceries versus eating out each afternoon. Personally, I do it because I have a preference for the way my food comes out when I make it as opposed to the options near my office. Plus, I can eat it whenever I want and don’t have to worry about when the restaurant will open or how crowded it will be. But, there are always downsides that many people don’t think of until it is too late.
And, for the record, I don’t consider buying those boxed, microwave meals in this exercise. Actually, I don’t really consider it food at all since in most cases those things are so small, they couldn’t even satisfy my father who had a bypass procedure and gets full quite quickly. Brown-bagging for this purpose consists of preparing a meal from groceries, or packing left-overs for the most part.
The number one thing that gets to me is the work involved. Sure, it’s relatively easy if you’re already going to be cooking, and just need to make a little bit extra for the next day. But, what happens if you have a late day and don’t feel like cooking that evening? Or if you have a dinner meeting and have no reason to cook. Or if you are invited for dinner by a friend or family member? You pretty much will be stuck having to find the time to cook if you find yourself in any of those situations, unless you take something home with you (which isn’t always an option).
Of course, there are those who say, “Well, why don’t you just spend a day cooking all of your meals for the week on the weekend”. You know what I say to that? That’s right, you get the evil eye. And there are two reasons for that response. First, who wants to spend an entire day every week cooking? Unless you have a gourmet kitchen where you live that enables you to prepare, cook and store a business week’s worth of meals at the same time, then it’s a completely frustrating task. Not to mention all of the clean-up that has to happen afterwards.
The second part of this portion, and a huge reason why bag lunches suck as a whole, is the repetitive nature. You obviously are making a large portion so that it will last over several meals, and even if you are making extra from dinner, you will still be having the same thing rather soon. I don’t know about any of you, but with the exception of sushi and real brick oven pizza, there aren’t many things that I can (or really care to) eat more than once every few days. But the whole point of spending the day cooking is so that you have the entire week’s meals done, so that would entail repetitive dining, and at the very least having something twice, if not more during the week.
One thing that may not have crossed many people’s minds, because I know it never crosses mine until it’s too late, is to make sure you under cook what you plan on having at a later time. I’m sure there will be plenty of people thinking “what the heck is he talking about?”, and the answer is this:
If you plan on cooking chicken, fish, beef, or any other protein source, you want to eat it at its perfect doneness for your taste. That means you have to under cook it the first time, so that when you are ready to heat it up for consuming, it won’t be too dry, too hard, too done, whatever. Even pasta. Dried pasta is the worst. Otherwise, it just ends up going in the garbage, and you have to find something else anyway.
Now, I’m in no way saying that you shouldn’t be bringing your lunch with you each day, because I (mostly) do and that would be hypocritical, I guess. All I am saying is that there are some very logical and appealing reasons not to be so anal about doing it all the time and to allow for some deviation if you can. You can still save some money with coupons and lunch specials if that is your main motivation. It’s not like spending a couple of dollars for a change of pace is going to kill you (and if it will, I think your problems run much deeper than money!).