This post is sponsored by McKenzie Natural Artisan Deli. All opinions are my own.
When I started going to the gym (um, again) last year, I didn’t think it would last. It never does. But then it did. Soon, it was part of my routine — a part I really liked. Now, I go five days a week and do a mix of cardio (mostly the exercise bike) and weight machines. Each time, I leave feeling good.
This story could have ended there. Working out is a good step in a healthier direction, and that’s pretty awesome. But I didn’t want this story to end there. And though I joke about it, I’m not working out so I can eat whatever I want. I work out so I can be healthier and live better.
So, the story continues as I look for more ways to up my healthy living. Packing lunches more days each week helps for sure. And by more, I mean several more than the zero of most week.
Making lunch really helps me stay on track for a few of my 2018 goals — Not just losing weight but also making saving a priority. When I pack lunch, I both avoid costly takeout meals and have thoughtful control over what I am eating. That means more money in my bank account and fewer extra calories consumed because a bag of chips looked particularly alluring.
Recently, New England company McKenzie Natural Artisan Deli reached out to me about their high quality deli meat that’s now available in Shaw’s stores in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine. Made with whole muscle meat, McKenzie uses no hormones or antibiotics in their deli meats, instead opting for all natural, clean ingredients. And they’ve been at it for awhile. The company, created in Vermont, has been making deli meats since 1907.
I appreciate the longevity of this company, and the tasty, wholesome meats they make. They’re perfect for keeping in my fridge for easy lunch making every day of the week.
Here’s a few things I am doing to make better lunches that I can’t wait to eat at work
5 Things I Remember for Packing Better Lunches for Work
Shop thoughtfully. When I used to grocery shop, I focused heavily on dinners — proteins, veggies and carbs that would make dinners at home a cinch. And I would make sure we had breakfast stuff too. But lunch? Well, that was sort of the forgotten meal … until I had to pack lunches for my kids or eat myself. Now, I actively plan lunches and snacks while shopping too. A stroll through the produce section, a swing by the deli counter and hop down the snack aisle helps … Easy to pack fruit like clementines, soft bakery rolls and all the fixings for sandwiches and grab and go snacks are all priorities.
Plan ahead. The worst mornings are the ones when I had no idea what anyone is taking for lunch. Those are the days that I find myself rushing around trying to pull together whatever I can for my kids and I (and the days where I often just grab something out instead). But when I think ahead, mornings are so smooth. I can whip up three personalized sandwiches (turkey and brie with lettuce and tomato for me, roast beef, lettuce, tomato and barbecue sauce for my son and ham, lettuce and tomato for my daughter) without fuss. And the rest is just choosing snacks and sides. Easy peasy
Have the gear ready. Why should the kids be the only ones with special lunch boxes? I got myself one too — a snazzy turquoise, white and grey number that holds everything I need (including my water bottle). When it comes time to pack, finding something to put my lunch in is a no-brainer. The key here though is to make sure everything gets cleaned the night before — something I have been urging my kids to do for years.
Don’t go overboard packing. When my kids get all starry eyed, seeing the petite bags of chips, cute fruit snacks and other things I buy for snacks, I get it: It’s really tempting to just pack it all right away. But packing lunches is like any meal. You need to be conscious of how the food you pack fits into the greater scope of your eating day. When I pack, I try to include several fruits and veggies to snack on with something — like a satisfying sandwich — for lunch. And sometimes I will toss in something fun too — like chips or fruit snacks or a cookie. Everything in moderation, right?
Remember: It’s ok not to eat it all. This was probably the biggest lesson for me — not feeling the pressure to eat everything I pack. One I let that go, it was very freeing.
Do you pack lunches for work?
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. Her latest cookbook is The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook, published by Rockridge Press, which focuses on quick, easy, from-scratch cooking for busy people. A single mother to two kids in middle school, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.