Why do we have a canteen truck on nearly all of our job sites? The only answer is convenience. The food isn’t cheap, and it isn’t very good – or good for you. Yet at noon when the truck rolls onto the job site and honks its horn, most workers on the site flock to grab a bite–the easiest and most logical option for lunch – the truck is right there! Why bother preparing food at home if I can just get it here? Actually there are actually a number of reasons why we would be better off brown-bagging it instead of eating fast food or canteen offerings for lunch.
Perhaps the most obvious advantage of bringing your own lunch to work is the fact that you can bring whatever you want. This means you have the ability to eat a lunch that fulfills all of your nutritional needs and leaves you energized to wrap up your work for the day and feel less drained when you get home.
In addition to providing the energy you need, eating the right foods will keep you in shape and able to work. This is especially important in the United States – where the population is consistently ranked among the most obese of all developed countries in the world – where over two thirds of us are overweight.
Another benefit of bringing lunch to work is time saved. All it takes is a minute in the microwave, and you’re free to spend the rest of your lunch break catching up on lost sleep, or relaxing and reading a book if you can find somewhere quiet. Even short periods of relaxation in the day are massively important for reducing stress levels, which can have lasting health benefits.
At my laziest, I was spending roughly $7 every morning on a coffee and a breakfast sandwich, and then at least another $10 on lunch. Compared to the $2 or so per meal that I’m spending to prepare my own food, and less than a dollar for four eggs and a coffee prepared at home every morning, I’m currently saving $70 a week in food costs alone. That adds up to saving almost $4,000 a year, for eating healthier food that isn’t difficult to prepare. The markup on fast food and coffee is huge, and there is a lot of savings to be had by preparing your food at home.
I started bringing my lunch to work after eating off the canteen truck for the first few years of my career in the field. There was no time to go out and get something to eat so the truck was the only option. Since food truck options were not the best for my health I started packing my cooler daily with healthy options from home. I usually make a salad or take left-overs from dinner, add a yogurt and fruit and this takes care of me around coffee break and lunch. For me it works: I eat healthier, it cuts down on wasting food at home, I do not have to spend time during the busy day to get some take out, and I save a little money. Bob Tierney, General Superintendent
Saving money is not limited to individuals. Consider the cost of obesity on a broad scale. Estimates by the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine indicate that missed work as a direct result of obesity costs approximately $4.3 billion annually.
The obesity-related healthcare expenses are staggering, with estimates by the Journal of Health Economics peaking at up to $210 billion annually. These preventable diseases could be alleviated, in part, by maintaining a healthier diet and lifestyle.
How to do it
Meal Prep Sunday has emerged in recent years as a trendy catch phrase on social media. While sharing pictures of your food online isn’t the most productive use of time, this trend has led to a number of useful resources for those just getting into weekend meal prep. A comprehensive guide by reddit user ‘whatstheworlddoing’ can be found here, and an entire community based around meal prep exists at reddit.com/r/mealprepsunday.
Cooking food at home is a good idea if you like the idea of being healthier, having more free time during your lunches, and saving significant amounts of money on food and health expenses. Cooking healthier food at home can also lower your risk for preventable diseases and lead to a longer, happier life. Thanks for reading, and bon appétit.