Breakthrough Patient Recruitment

: Kick off National Nutrition Month Like a Third Grader. Pack Your Lunch

Kick off National Nutrition Month Like a Third Grader. Pack Your Lunch

Project Manager

March is National Nutrition Month, and this year's theme is Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day. National Nutrition Month has been a staple for 40 years now, providing nutrition information as part of a campaign led by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation.


In that spirit, now is a great time to think about how to make healthier choices at the place where you spend the most time-your job. As I transitioned from full-time graduate student to full-time employee, I expected some challenges. But I have actually found that in a lot of ways, it has made me more organized.


In particular, having a regular schedule has made me eat so much more healthily. No more skipping breakfast because it is almost lunchtime, no more grazing throughout the day, and far less going out to eat. It also helps that my mom is a dietitian who packed me balanced meals throughout my middle school years.


So, in an ode to mom, here are my easy tips for packing your lunches for the week and making the whole process as painless, inexpensive, and healthy as possible.


  • Eat a good breakfast. My breakfast-of-choice? Greek yogurt, honey, and granola. Bam. I keep all the ingredients at work, so I have my coffee and breakfast and then enough energy to start the day.


  • Buy a bunch of containers in all sizes and use them to bring your food each day. You can buy a huge pack for about $5.


  • Make a pledge to only eat what you brought to work with you. No vending machine splurges in the afternoon. Stock up on healthy snacks like fruits and veggies, nuts, popcorn, or snack bars and eat those when you get hungry. This will not only save you cash, but it will help you keep track of what you're putting in your body.


  • Consider one-dish meals. I love making soups, lentils, pasta dishes, quiche, enchiladas, stir-fry … you get the picture.


  • Sandwiches! They are easy to make and delicious to eat. If you're a vegetarian like me, stock up on yummy veggies and pre-sliced cheese.


  • Bring fruit you can eat whole, such as apples in the fall, clementines in winter, and peaches in the summer. If it is a grab and go item, you may be more inclined to eat it. If you want more variety, like mango, melon, or pineapple, chop it all up at once and put it into portion-sized containers or bags so that you can just throw one into your lunch bag and have it ready to go.


  • Same goes for vegetables. Pick one day and prepare a bunch of them-peel and slice a whole bag of carrots/cucumber/celery (don't peel that) and put them into bags. Another cool way to do this is to use leftover jars, put your dip of choice in the bottom, and fill up with veggie sticks.


  • If you enjoy salads, prep several of the add-ins beforehand. Wash and chop your veggies in one fell swoop. If you want meat or tofu or another protein, prepare/cook it ahead of time. Then, just toss all the prepared ingredients together and you'll have a healthy salad for multiple meals. You can use a small container for the salad dressing to keep it from getting soggy. There are also specialty salad containers that you can use. Have you seen them before?


  • Get yourself a water bottle. It'll help keep you hydrated throughout the day and can help keep you from splurging on unhealthy sodas. There are even bottles with built-in filters. And if you don't like the taste of water there are a variety of flavor additives that you can use.   


  • Make a meal plan each weekend. For me, this is usually 2 to 3 meals that I will make for dinner and use the leftovers for lunch.


  • After a meal, pack your leftovers into meal-sized containers. If you made too much, a lot of foods freeze well, especially soup (my favorite). If you eat out, box up what you don't finish and bring that for lunch.


And one final tip to help make all of this a bit easier. Eat before you go grocery shopping. You'll be less likely to buy things you don't need, and then you won't be tempted to take them in your lunch!


Happy lunching!

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