One stark difference between my coworkers during the time I lived in Shanghai was that the majority of Chinese workers brought their lunch from home, whereas foreigners tended to go to restaurants to eat. Going out in central Shanghai is not cheap, but like New York City or San Francisco, it has a fantastic selection of exotic dining options. Chances are however, that if you live elsewhere in the world, you frequent your local Chick-Fil-A or Chipotle simply because it’s the most practical lunch option. Two thirds of Americans go out for lunch, costing them over $2000 per year.
If you love going out for lunch to eat great food, that’s great. However, consider that you can save a lot of money and time, as well as eat much better if you pack your own lunch. I bring my own breakfast almost every day, and it’s not nearly as much effort as most people imagine. Furthermore, bringing my own lunch makes it much easier for me to stick to a paleo diet.
The photo below shows the three parts of my lunch box:
- 3 eggs and bacon or sausage: each Sunday, my wife prepares two dozen hard boiled eggs and a pan of bacon and sausage in the oven. These go into individually-packages ziplock bags for the week. Each morning we throw one bag into my lunchbox.
- My main course is usually leftovers. There are ideas online for how to pack a lunch box, but keep in mind you don’t need to prepare food specifically for lunch: if you go out for dinner, get some to take with you, and if you cook at home, just make enough for the next day. When I don’t have any other ideas, I grab some single-serving canned salmon or potato salad.
- My snacks for the today: almonds, dark chocolate, carrots and an orange. Like my breakfast, snacks are prepared a week or more in advance in individual ziploc bags.