1. Control. Do you ever wait in the lunch line only to find when you get to the front that you don’t like what they’re serving? So you reach for pizza again. A healthy packed lunch lets you avoid the lunch line (and any temptations). Bringing your own lunch also lets you control exactly what goes into the food you eat.
2. Variety. It doesn’t hurt to cave in and enjoy the occasional serving of pizza and hot dogs. But if you’re eating these foods all the time, your body probably feels ready for a change. A packed lunch a couple of times a week means you can enjoy some favorites that you might not find at every school — like a piping hot thermos of your mom’s chicken soup; hummus and pita bread; or some crisp, farm-stand apples.
3. Energy. If you have a big game or activity after school, plan a lunch and snacks that combine lean proteins with carbohydrates to give you lasting energy and keep you going through the late afternoon. Some ideas: your own “trail” mix of dried fruit and nuts or sunflower seeds, whole-grain pretzels and low-fat cheese, or a bagful of baby carrots and yogurt dip.
4. Money. Packing your lunch will save you money—no doubt about it. And I’m talking hundreds of dollars in cold hard cash! Think about it. How much do you spend when you go out to eat? $5 per meal? $10? $15? Multiply that times 20 (5 days per week times four weeks per month). Yikes! A packed lunch, such as a turkey sandwich, baked chips, a piece of fruit and some carrot sticks will run you about three bucks. You’ll be saving money you could spend on something else fun. Reward yourself! How about a shopping trip? New electronic? Running shoes? Or some cool lunch-packing supplies?!