At one point in college, I was eating three meals a day on campus, and it was miserable. Thankfully, I usually just have to bring one or two meals with me now and with all the practice I’ve had, I’ve gotten much better at packing a good lunch.
First of all, why bother? Bringing my own food saves me money and often allows me to have healthier, tastier options than I could buy on campus.
That being said, there are definitely times to buy food. I used to be so stubborn about not buying food. My parents nicely informed me that I was being absolutely ridiculous and that it was okay to spend $5 on a sandwich every now and then. So I’ve been working on that.
I’ve learned to buy food when I’m busy but on most days, I do try to bring my own food. My biggest priorities when I’m bringing food to campus is to have something that tastes good, fills me up, and packs well.
Learning how to pack food well has probably been one of the bigger challenges. Having your lunch leak all over your backpack and opening it up to find a soggy mess is not super fun.
Part of the solution is to use the proper containers. At our house, we have a lot of cheap Tupperwear, which work fine, but I make sure to use the good ones for lunch. Containers that screw shut, like the one shown above, are great.
I’ve also started using glass containers when I want to microwave my food – it’s a little heavier but it’s an easy switch to make and makes me feel a little bit more comfortable about the chemicals that get into my food. Old jars work really well for this, and as a bonus they fit into the cup holder on the side of my backpack. Yes, sometimes this makes me feel obnoxious (I think it’s a little silly that jars of all things have become trendy) but it is practical, cheap, and works well.
I also have a ton of tiny little containers that are great for small snacks or dressings. I use them instead of the little snack sized plastic baggies to cut down on waste.
The other two containers that keep me happy throughout the day are my coffee thermos and my water bottle. For coffee, this Contigo travel mug is phenomenal. It doesn’t leak and keeps contents hot for hours. Sometimes I actually have to take the lid off to let it my coffee cool down enough to drink.
As for water bottles, I like the kind with a straw. I don’t know why but I always drink so much more if there is a straw around. I have this CamelBak one and I like it but over time, the straw has become a little leaky. My favorite is this little baby one from Thermos. It’s small, but I am lucky enough to have water fountains everywhere around campus. I would rather fill up a small water bottle multiple times a day than carry around a big heavy one.
So once I have all the proper containers, all I have to do is fill them with delicious food.
First of all, I make sure whatever I’m bringing won’t go bad if it’s out of the fridge, especially on long hot days. I also make sure I’m going to have time to find a microwave if it is something I want to eat hot. Finally, I try to make sure my meal is nutritionally balanced and will keep me full and happy while I’m at school.
Some of my favorites are:
- veggie burgers
- rice bowls
What are your tips for packing a good lunch?