I’ve told this story t a few times over the years, but never recounted it to a wider audience. A couple of years ago, in the early stages of my transformation, I had changed some of my eating habits to kick start my weight loss and compliment the running. Rather than buying pizza and over-stuffed hero’s for lunch, I switched to salads at the local deli. I was fairly consistent with the ingredients: lettuce, cabbage, mushroom, boiled egg, chicken, croutons and a little dressing. Every so often I made minor changes to avoid getting bored, like switching the mushrooms out for cucumbers. The salads were pretty good and the portion size was just enough for an office lunch, but they cost about $10 a pop (fairly typical for Manhattan). I don’t recall exactly when, but one particular day Jess and I were discussing food and I happened to tell her about my daily lunch ritual. She was particularly surprised by the cost and my willingness to spend so much. From my perspective, I felt it was worth it to gain control over my eating habits and the one area that had the potential to derail my efforts to get healthy.
Certain details of the story really registered with Jess and, looking out for my best interests as usual, she gave me this lunchbox as a gift shortly thereafter. It’s made by a company called Fit & Fresh and will keep “greens cool and crisp with the snap-in, removable ice pack! It also features a unique twist and release dressing dispenser built right in so you can shake and eat when ready!” Jess figured that, by opting to make the salads myself and bring them to work, I had the opportunity to save a bit of money while still maintaining control over my eating habits.
I took to the idea pretty quickly and developed a simple system, that I’m still using almost two years later. Every weekend, whatever ingredients we need for the week are added to the grocery list. At some point over the weekend, usually Sunday while watching some type of sports, I set about boiling, grilling, peeling and chopping the ingredients and then storing them in tupperware containers in the fridge. Every morning, I take ten minutes to shred some lettuce, drop in a handful of ingredients from each tupperware, top with some croutons and dressing, and away I go. At this point I have it down to an art and have halved the time it takes both on the weekend and in the morning.
I don’t really mind taking the same thing for lunch every day. Like I’ve said a few times, it gives me some control over a potential minefield and has definitely helped me lose weight initially and keep it off since. It’s not for everyone of course, especially the lack of variety on a daily basis – but being a creature of habit, I guess it just doesn’t bother me. In fact, I look forward to that 15 minutes when I can put my headphones on and eat my lunch.
Over the initial twelve month period I actually kept a track of how much the ingredients cost each week. Over the course of the year I figured to have saved around $1100 versus buying my lunch every day. These numbers are anecdotal, since I ended up spending the money on other things … but still, that was over a thousand dollars in pocket money that could have been used for anything!