It may sound like I am overcomplicating things here, but bringing a packed lunch from home to my workplace actually means quite a lot more to me.
Here’s the why, starting from the obvious reasons and then to the more indirect reasons I do this.
1. Saving money
Of course, by making and bringing my own food I save a fair bit of money. By not eating out for lunch, I cut my food bill by about half the usual amount I typically spend on lunches.
2. Level up my cooking skills
Mind you, I am no cook. I lack the good sense of what food ingredients go well together, and the finesse of that’s required to know how to make a chicken crisp up without drying it out. So I had to experiment, and look up recipes. Sometimes it’s a miss, and sometimes I made it work and made myself a decent meal.
At least there’s a chance for growth here, and that’s always a good thing.
3. Supporting the environment by reducing waste
One of my biggest gripes against getting takeaway or catered food is the amount of plastic waste that comes with it, especially single-use plastic. Plastic spoons, packets, straws, etc. When I bring food from home I use my containers and metal spoons. I’d just wash them after I’ve eaten, and no throwaways.
4. Reminding myself of the socio-economic conditions around me
I am privileged, and I’m afraid of losing my grip on the reality that many around me do not have what I have. Poverty rates had increased over the last year due to the pandemic, and we have many still living with low household incomes and struggling with unemployment.
I can afford to eat out and cater food if I choose to, but by making myself intentionally make a home-cooked meal, one within a budget, it’ll remind me of what I have and what a lot of others don’t. It reminds me not to take for granted my living condition, and to empathize with those who lack.
5. Practicing self-control
Another reason to cook my own food is to keep tabs on myself and have control over what and how I spend. It’s to practice control over impulse buying and to have a habit of making healthier meals instead of just buying the tastiest-looking item on the menu.
Of course, there are also days that I do buy food at lunch, when I’m out with others or when I lack the time to prep the day before. There are some higher-spending days, especially on date nights of on weekends together with the kids.
But on other days I can choose to spend less by budgeting, and by taking the time to make a meal. So there’s the practice of self-discipline here.
It’s starting small, and then slowly making a change in my habits.
Those are my 5 reasons that I still try to do food prep at home and bring a packed meal of food to work.
If you find any of the above reasons valid, I encourage you to do the same. Maybe you can just start doing this once a month, then increase it to one day per week, and see how you fare. Who knows, it may eventually become a habit for you.