Lunch Bag For The Big Kids

So, do you remember when you used to go to school and mom always packs you a neat little lunch bag? Or if you carried a cool metal lunch box with your favorite cartoon printed on it (I certainly did, except mine had travel stickers all over).

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I think that it is a pretty neat idea.

It’s too bad as adults, we tend to rely on driving out for food and eating over-seasoned food made by someone else in an overly-used kitchen. Maybe because most of us don’t have our moms to prepare & pack the food for us anymore and are too lazy to do it ourselves or we claim to not know how to cook, or maybe, we’re just too embarrassed to be caught eating out of a lunch box by our colleagues. Either way, we’re just subjecting ourselves to the easy-way-out option which is to eat out. Not that that’s bad, but it is bad in the long run.

Therefore, I devised a plan where I eat out once or twice a week during the week days, and the rest of the days I bring my own food. Ever since my recent toe-dipping into the culinary world, I find myself loving the idea of cooking something exciting for each meal. Sure, there are lazy days when I resort to just making a sandwich, but that’s better than greasy stall food.

I’ve listed down a few reasons why I (and now you) should try to bring a lunch bag to work most days (or everyday).

TIME SAVED
Let’s assume like me, you drive out to lunch with your colleagues most of the time. Most of us are allocated about 60-90 minutes for lunch. The average time spent in the car there and back takes up about 30 minutes, 15 minutes each way. Sometimes, it takes us more than 15 minutes because of the lunch-hour traffic. Placing your order and waiting for your food takes an average of 10-15 minutes unless it’s fast food. Eating takes 20-30 minutes and since you’re with your colleagues, office gossip requires another 15 minutes of your time. That’s more or less about 90 minutes.

When you have a lunch bag, you only require 20-30 minutes to slowly enjoy your meal with the remaining time used to relax (read, check your Facebook, etc). It’s especially useful when you have tight deadline to keep, so you earn an additional 45 minutes to work on your tasks.

“But I have to waste sleep time & wake up extra early to cook my meals each morning!”
Not necessarily. What I’d do is to prepare my meal the night before, let’s say a basil chicken salad. I cook the chicken the night before, and store it in a sealed container in the fridge. The next morning, I only need to take it out and pop it in the steamer (you can also use an oven or a microwave) to warm it up while I take my shower. By the time I’m out, it’ll be warm and nice, I can just toss it into a tupperware with my salad greens and dressing (also prepared the night before) and I’m all set.

MONEY SAVER
It’s pretty obvious that you save a lot more money eating your own homemade meals. Based on my own experience, eating out roughly requires at the very least RM10 per day. Not to forget the government tax and service taxes your get with the bill. So let’s assume I spend RM50 per week on my meals. The cost to make a simple basil chicken salad only requires roughly about RM5 or less. That’s mainly because most of the ingredients are things that you already have in your kitchen and fresh produce cost less than RM1. Making sandwiches for lunch would only cost RM2. I would daresay that within a week I save about RM30-40. Just think about what better things you could buy with that money.

One of the best game plans for self-made meals is to stock up during the weekends. Buy all your meat, fish, veggies, bread, eggs etc in advance and portion them according to your needs. Freeze the meat & fish so they’ll last you up to 12 days, fresh veggies can be kept for up to a week. It’ll also be wise to plan what you want to cook in advance.

I’m an absolute sucker for nicely-designed tupperwares that helps you portion your food.

HEALTH REGULATOR
Who knows what goes into your restaurant food. They’re delicious and also loaded with way too much oil and salt. You don’t know what goes on behind the kitchen doors. You can assume it’s clean and that your food is very well-prepared but usually, things are not as pretty as they seem. Often, when you’re out, you tend to try to spend less by choosing the less expensive meal choices – which are basically loaded with grease and salt to make the cheap ingredients taste good.

When you make your own food, you control what goes into it and decide on exactly what you want. You’ll soon realize that there are more ways to flavor your food than to just add salt, salt and more salt. Most restaurants use salt because it’s cheap. Not to mention, salt is one of the major factors of why we sometimes feel bloated. With every homemade meal, you cut down your salt intake by 60% per week and you will be healthier than 70% of the world’s average population.

I used to always order iced lemon tea whenever I eat out because I keep telling myself that lemon is healthy. Which is true but it’s also a lie. Lemons are healthy, iced lemon tea on the other hand, is not. The amount of sugar added to water and a tiny bit of lemon makes that popular drink basically just a glass of lemon-flavored sugar water. And yes, you can gain weight from that glass of liquid. When I have my homemade lunch now, I drink either green tea, english breakfast tea or organic peach tea from REAL tea leaves. No sugar added.

Also remember this, one day you’ll grow old. Eating healthy versus eating unhealthily for the past 30-50 years of your life can affect your health dramatically. People don’t think about it now because no one thinks that far ahead. But, life happens and you will contract a lot of bad illnesses when you’re 60. Keeping your health in check now means less diseases, less stress, more happiness and less money wasted on expensive hospital bills.

It’ll be cool to try this out one day.

MASTERCHEF IN THE MAKING
Okay, well maybe not. But cooking is a skill, no matter how much you hate it. I used to hate cooking and it wasn’t until 2010 that I started cooking. I started small, like most people before I eventually moved on to bigger, more complex things. When you cook, you subconsciously learn to appreciate food more. You understand that food shouldn’t just be something that tastes good and fills you up. Trust me, I used to just eat because I’m hungry. But now I’m eating because I love the combination of flavors, the process of making it and also because I’m hungry.

You tend to learn new things that may be useful to you in future. In a way, it’s also an opportunity for you to feel grateful that you have the food & resources to work with while there are others out there who can only take what they can get. Why do you think so many cooking shows (Masterchef, Top Chef, the AFC channel) are popping up these days? People are beginning to realize that food-making is an art form. You don’t need salt to flavor food when you have other natural spices like thyme, paprika, oregano, and etc. You may not be able to cook with precision like those masterchefs on TV but neither can I – so what’s stopping you? You only need to cook for yourself, not three hard-headed judges. And especially not Gordon Ramsey, whom I really love but am terrified of.

So, let’s do a recap on WHY a lunch bag is a good thing and EXTRA reasons:

– Saves you time & hassle of driving out to look for food
– Saves you money that should not be spent on food with extra salt
– Healthier choices made by you, a much healthier you
– Leveling-UP your cooking skills (just like in The Sims) slowly but surely
– You can now impress your future in-laws or your date with your superior cooking skills
– If you had to live on your own, you’d know how to feed yourself
– If you’re ever abandoned on an island, see previous reason
– If you ever have kids, you won’t need to always rely on food delivery
– You won’t need to feed your kids crappy food (which they’ll complain about to grandma)
– You save money on Valentines day (because we all know dinner prices go up during Vday)
– While people are stuck with the same old choices of places to eat, you’ve got your own personal variety
– You will start a ‘lunch bag’ trend among your peers (that’s a given)
– When you’re old & healthy while everyone else is dealing with medical issues, you know who to thank

I’m not saying don’t eat out at all, it’s always good to have a sociable lunch session with your colleagues but keep it to maybe twice a week. 🙂

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