Six things I learned from my January lunch challenge

Today was the last day of my self-imposed challenge to pack or make my lunch at home every day I worked in January.

Another Lunch
I didn’t take any further pictures of my homemade lunches since the last one, so I’m reusing this picture as an example of a lunch I brought to work. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

I’m happy to report that I succeeded! I worked and packed or made my lunch 20 days in January, 21 if you count a day that I was off from my full-time job but taught a class at Salisbury University. I made my lunch at home that day.

Here’s my original post about the challenge. 

Here are some things I learned:

  1. I feel accomplished. Sure, I could have packed my lunch every day without making it a mission, but making it a mission made me more motivated and helped me feel accomplished as the month continued and I stayed on track.
  2. It really doesn’t take that long. I was sometimes too lazy to make a lunch before work in the past, but it really doesn’t take long at all. As long as I have what I need to make a sandwich at home, it’s pretty easy to put the bread, mayo, salt and pepper, lunch meat, cheese and lettuce together, and grab some kind of snack.
  3. It actually saves time. If I packed a lunch, I could sometimes avoid taking a break from work, which ended up saving me time.
  4. I didn’t always pack enough. The lunches I made weren’t always super-filling, so I sometimes added in healthier-looking snacks — not candy bars — from the vending machine (as I mentioned before, I know this is not a great idea, as I’m sure nothing in there is really healthy).
  5. It could get boring. I did eat a lot of similar sandwiches and wraps. I still felt accomplished, as I noted in No. 1, but I may think of ways to switch it up more in the coming months.
  6. It was not an instant fix. While I did save money on these lunches because I wasn’t eating out, I still did eat out for some other meals. The pounds also didn’t melt off; while I am a few pounds lighter than what I weighed in at on the first day of January, I’m still not where I want to be, and I felt like my weight stayed pretty stagnant during January. But I know that takes time.

For February, I’m going to continue to pack my lunch or eat at home on most workdays. I’m also deciding now that I’m not going to eat anything out of the vending machine during February.

I may allow myself something like two days to eat out for lunch in February if I choose. That gives me a little leeway, but it will still keep me thinking about healthy choices on most days.

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