National Pack Your Lunch Day: Pros, Cons & Unsolved Mysteries

Yes, dear readers, National Pack Your Lunch Day is an actual calendar event (March 10 for the unconverted), like Bike to Work Day or Bring Your Kid to Work Day. This alone tells us everything we need to know. Because mostly these National Days are reserved for things we want more of. More exercise! More kids achieving gainful employment and leaving the nest before age 30! Do we see a National Fender Bender Day? A National Parking Ticket Day? No and no. But National Pack Your Lunch Day? You bet!

Interestingly, there’s no record of who started the day, or when, or why. Suspicious? Me too! Conspiracy? Perhaps. Why the buzz around boxed lunches? Let’s unpack what this National Pack Your Lunch Day is all about.

The Pros and Cons of Brown Bagging It

Although the origins remain a mystery (one might suspect some kind of brown bag lunch lobby), National Pack Your Lunch Day invites an exploration into the “bring or buy” decision most of us make daily.

First, the Cons:

There are good reasons why a sack lunch isn’t everyone’s happy place. Among them:

  • I Can’t Cook! PB&J gets boring day after day after…. There’s one in every office (you know who you are, Jordan): The top dog, the superstar, the MVP of homemade lunch. When they saunter to the lunch area with their pyramid of Pyrex in tow, we scamper behind like seagulls at the beach hoping for scraps. Remember the days of lunch box trading on the playground? There are those of us who had nothing tradeable. An apple for a homemade lemon bar? No dice! Are these the children who grow up to be serial lunch buyers as adults?
  • Everything Tastes Better If Someone Else Makes It. Whether it’s the chocolate chip cookies at your friend’s house, the guacamole your neighbor brought to the football party, or the “filet o’ fabulous” from the fast food place, when it’s served to you on a plate, brought to your front door, or handed to you through a car window with soda and fries, there’s a LOT to love.
  • But What Am I Craving Right. This. Minute? Some of us have no idea what we want for lunch until it’s half past noon and hanger (hunger + anger) has set in. Meal planning doesn’t work for those of us who are committed to a lifestyle where each meal represents an emotional story arc tied to the past three hours. Who knows the night before whether meatloaf or micro greens will best reflect the next day’s psycho-gastronomical needs?

Of Course, the Pros:

Like drinking more water or taking the stairs rather than the elevator, we’re all well aware of the many upsides to taking your lunch to work:

  • Fresh (or Fresher) Food: If you’re doing your own lunch prep, you know how close the pita bread is to its sell-by date. And you won’t toss wilted lettuce into your Caesar salad just because no one’s looking. Even if lunch for you is just processed cheese and white bread, you’ve still got built-in quality control on your side. No mystery meat in homemade stew!
  • That’s Not What I Ordered. Be as picky as you like. Skies the limit when you’re packing your own brown bag.
  • Controlled Portions. It’s harder to eat too much when all you’ve got is what’s in the Tupperware. Come mid-afternoon, when your take-out colleagues are comatose with the after-effects of Cheesecake Factory-style portions, you’re just getting your second wind! The after-lunch hours are where the bag lunch bunch truly shines, surpassing colleagues a little each day, until that big promotion and corner office is in the bag. All this thanks to a lunch bag? Yes, indeed—and make it a fancy one so they know you’re a star!
  • Less Expensive. If your brown bag lunch is blackened salmon with truffle oil, you’re better off at the deli next door, but mostly lunch made at home is far less expensive than a meal out. No middle-men in the brown bag lunch supply chain. You’re the buyer, cook, sous-chef, and server.
  • Lunch Bunch. Eating with work friends is fun and good for stress-reduction. And bringing your lunch to work means more time lounging in the lunch room and less time standing in the take-out line.

A Few Tips for Packing Your Lunch

If you’re thinking you might dip a toe or two in the homemade lunch waters, here are a few tips for quick success:

  • Don’t Make It Too Healthy. Unless you’re a tried and true, sticks-and-twigs-style health nut, there’s no need to attempt a lifestyle overhaul with a packed lunch. Make sure there’s dessert in your insulated lunch bag, not just carrots and celery sticks. Pack stuff you actually want to eat and brown bagging becomes fun.
  • You’re Going to Need a Lunch Bag. And it just so happens that we offer a plethora of promotional lunch bags. Hopefully your employer is reading this and planning to buy you and your colleagues an insulated lunch bag with your company logo on it, just to get Pack Your Lunch Day off to a good start. In that case, check out this trendy insulated lunch bag or this “old school meets new school” bag cooler. And while we’re at it….
  • You Might Also Need a Tumbler. This one works for hot and cold beverages, plus we’ve got other custom tumbler options to meet every lunch time beverage style.
  • And a Straw. Pick one that’s easy to clean at work. This one comes with a cleaning brush. More straw options here.
  • Go Out for Lunch Once a Week. At Least. Don’t be dissuaded by the hard core brown baggers. Packing your lunch isn’t about non-stop mason jar salads and bento boxes. It’s just a good way to eat what you want and save a few bucks. Austerity is not required to reap the benefits of brown bagging—like eating what you want, avoiding take-out lines, and saving money.

Lunch Boxes Are for All of Us

We may not know who’s behind this National Day, but let’s let Pack Your Lunch Day be an exercise in options. With better food in your box (not necessarily healthier, just yummier), and a better box to bring (we offer lots of custom lunch bags), we think even the most committed fast fooders might want to get in the brown bag game now and then.

P.S. Check out a few of our favorite lunch coolers, tumblers, and straws:

Karleen Wise Andersen

From marketing tips to product recommendations, I’m here to help small businesses be their best.

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