Brown-Bagging & Freezer Meals Have Drawbacks Too

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There are many reasons why people would go through the trouble of packing a lunch every single day.

Some people may be obsessed with saving money.

Others may have dietary considerations, and find it easier to control what they eat by making it themselves.

Still, others do it for budgeting reasons and the simple cost-savings of purchasing groceries versus eating out each afternoon.

Personally, I do it because I have a preference for the way my food comes out when I make it as opposed to the options near my office.

Plus, I can eat it whenever I want and don’t have to worry about when the restaurant will open or how crowded it will be.

But, there are always downsides that many people don’t think of until it is too late.

“Brown-bagging” for this purpose consists of preparing a meal from groceries or packing left-overs for the most part.

The number one thing that gets to me is the work involved.

Sure, it’s relatively easy if you’re already going to be cooking, and just need to make a little bit extra for the next day.

But, what happens if you have a late day and don’t feel like cooking that evening?

Or if you have a dinner meeting and have no reason to cook.

Or if you are invited for dinner by a friend or family member?

You pretty much will be stuck having to find the time to cook if you find yourself in any of those situations, unless you take something home with you (which isn’t always an option).

Of course, there are those who say, “Well, why don’t you just spend a day cooking all of your meals for the week on the weekend”.

You know what I say to that?


That’s right, you get the evil eye.

And there are two reasons for that response.

First, who wants to spend an entire day every week cooking?

Unless you have a gourmet kitchen where you live that enables you to prepare, cook and store a business week’s worth of meals at the same time, then it’s a completely frustrating task.

Not to mention all of the clean-up that has to happen afterward.

The second part of this portion, and a huge reason why bag lunches suck as a whole, is the repetitive nature.

You obviously are making a large portion so that it will last over several meals, and even if you are making extra from dinner, you will still be having the same thing rather soon.

I don’t know about any of you, but with the exception of sushi and real pizza, there aren’t many things that I can (or really care to) eat more than once every few days.

But the whole point of spending the day cooking is so that you have the entire week’s meals done, so that would entail repetitive dining, and at the very least having something twice, if not more during the week.

One thing that may not have crossed many people’s minds, because I know it never crosses mine until it’s too late, is to make sure you undercook what you plan on having at a later time.

I’m sure there will be plenty of people thinking “what the heck is he talking about?”, and the answer is this:

If you plan on cooking chicken, fish, beef, or any other protein source, you want to eat it at its perfect doneness for your taste.

That means you have to undercook it the first time, so that when you are ready to heat it up for consumption, it won’t be too dry, too hard, too done, whatever.

Even pasta.

Dried-out pasta is the worst.

Otherwise, it just ends up going in the garbage, and you have to find something else anyway.

Now, I’m in no way saying that you shouldn’t be bringing your lunch with you each day because I (mostly) do and that would be hypocritical, I guess.

All I am saying is that there are some very logical and appealing reasons not to be so anal about doing it all the time and to allow for some deviation and variety if you can.

You can still save some money with coupons and lunch specials if that is your main motivation.

It’s not like spending a couple of dollars for a change of pace is going to kill you (and if it will, I think your problems run much deeper than money!).

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  1. Many people feel brown bagging your lunch can be isolating. Early in my career, I used to bring my lunch and other colleagues and I would still go out for lunch and eat it at a park or at the beach. I have brought my lunch for over 40 years and never left out.

    1. I never really felt that way. In all honesty, most of the time, I would rather eat by myself and do my own thing. Although, I can see how some people could come to feel that way. It’s just something I never considered personally, but thinking about it now, I can recall some people who had to go with the “eating out” crowd even if they already ate just for the company and not be left out.

  2. I take my lunch everyday. Most times, it’s a sandwich, along with a veggie, some fruit, and a container of yogurt. I mix it up by changing the type of lunch meat from week to week, and if we have meals that yield leftovers, I’ll sometimes take those instead of a sandwich. This usually works out 1-2 times a week. We’ll also buy some of the frozen Lean Cuisine meals or mac&cheese cups or stuff like which I’ll do once a month or so when I really need a break. Doing this takes 5-10 minutes to put together every evening. That little amount of time is very easy to handle. Once you get into the routine of doing it, making lunch will be just as regular of a thing as eating dinner, something you surely wouldn’t skip. For most people, it’s getting to that point where it becomes routine that is the difficult part.

    1. For me, it’s more about enjoying my food than the money or time, although I can’t understand how people can spend a whole day cooking and nothing else. I bought a bunch of cold cuts when the store had their own brand on sale and within 2 days I was sick of cold cuts and sandwiches in general. And, for some reason I have a huge aversion to buying prepackaged meals (probably my inner chef telling me what not to do). I guess for some, the money is an overriding factor, but when it comes to certain things like food, my taste buds and enjoyment take precedence.

    1. Oh, I absolutely do, I am a gourmet cook! Although, I do get a little tired of eating the same thing multiple times within a 24 hour period at times. But this isn’t about me, it’s for others to see that there are downsides to the whole “make your meals a bunch in advance” routine.

  3. I understand what you’re saying in regard to eating the same thing in just a few days….it doesn’t normally bother me but there are times where I just don’t feel like eating the same thing again too. To be ready for those days I have a stash of leftovers frozen and ready to go. Example: When I grill hamburgers or porkchops or make lasagna I make extra, put the extras in individual serving containers and into the freezer. That way I always have a stash of things I haven’t eaten in awhile ready to rock my face for lunch. 🙂

    1. Yeah man, that’s exactly what I’m talking about. How many times can you eat pasta or a sandwich without getting sick of it? It’s not just about the money or time but the enjoyment (or lack of) that needs to be considered too.

    1. I can’t do it all the time. Sometimes, I want something much different or what I can’t make at home. Enjoying food is totally worth the cost to me, otherwise it’s eating just to eat.

  4. I actually don’t mind cooking lots of stuff on one day so that I don’t have to cook anymore through the week. It is so much easier to have something made when you get home at 6. Otherwise, we’re eating hot pockets. I like to change up soup. leftovers, sandwich type stuff, and stir fry. I never know how much time I might or might not have to eat, so it’s just easier to have something there. When I work for the public health service clinic, it’s out on the reservation, so dining options are pretty limited. If you don’t bring it, you’re eating at the gas station.

    1. That’s one of those situations where you kinda have no choice isn’t it Kim? Although, I’ve seen on Diners Drive-Ins And Dives that there are a few gas stations which provide top-notch food service! I don’t mind cooking, but when people say they set aside an entire day to do it, I cringe at all of that lost time.

  5. I ALWAYS bring lunch because I want to be healthy and cheap, and bought food tends to cost more and be less healthy. If I’m really wanting it, I will get an indulgence but I think you need to be in the mindset that buying lunch out should be a treat instead of the norm if you really want to save money.

  6. I try to bring my lunch when I can, but I don’t beat myself up if I forget or don’t feel like bringing lunch. Sometimes I need to get out of the office to de-stress and that 10 buck lunch is totally worth it to save my sanity.

  7. I like doing both. I think it’s nice to get out of the office and go to lunch with friend(s). But that can get expensive. When I do bring lunch(about half the time) I usually bring leftovers or sandwich type lunch. I go all out though and make sandwiches with all the fixings on the side to keep it fresh, plus chips, veggies, fruit, etc.

    I’d rather spend the money going out than eating a PBJ and an apple every day like some brown baggers do. In addition, I generally make 4 lunches at the beginning of the week, 2 for me and 2 for my fiancee in order to minimize the time spent making lunches.