Packing lunches

Catherine is a freshman at NKU. At orientation, she was introduced to the Student Union and all the other hangouts on campus. During her first weeks, she develops a pattern in her schedule. She is eating at the Student Union four times a week with her newly found friends. She is having a blast and becoming really good friends with her peers. She finds the food court so appealing because it is quick and easy. She discovers Starbucks and starts to get a super tasty and overpriced coffee drink three times a week. She proceeds to do this throughout the year. Catherine was spending about $39 per week. She did not think twice about the money because she was making money by working on campus and $39 is not that much. Right? Wrong… At the end of her freshman year, Catherine spent $1,170. That is not pocket change. Spending all that cash made Catherine a new friend though. The friend is really clingy and will not leave her thigh. That friend’s name is Freshman Fifteen.

Catherine was beginning to see the results of her actions. She turned it around and realized packing a lunch was going to benefit her. Although, the brown bag is not the way to go when packing a lunch. You should use a lunch box. This way you will benefit our environment. Come on, they are not that dorky! In our mass-producing market, you can find a lunch box that will suit you. Regardless, yes packing a lunch is the way to go for college students. The benefits are undisputable. A student packing a lunch the right way will be helping their pocketbook, their health and the environment.

Now, you may think Catherine’s scenario is uncommon, but sadly, it is not. Situations like hers are ever so real on today’s college campuses. Within college campuses now, you will find communities of fast food offerings in addition to the restaurants off campus. For someone on the go, like many college students, a food court may be easy to fit in on the way to class. There is a solution though. Wake up 15 minutes earlier and pack that lunch. It is achievable.

For students paying for their college tuition, a common source of stress is cash. Hey, that is why we go to college in the first place, right? Students want the degree to get that job, which gives them an income. Nancy Anderson wrote an article called “13 Ways College Students Waste Money And Opportunities,” which was published Forbes. Number three on her list, behind tuition and rent, was food. She stresses the importance of cooking at home and not eating on campus. I made up the Catherine situation to exemplify the way spending can add up. It is a fact. Constant small spending does grow to a large quantity of money. In a world where money is cherished and imperative, college students have plenty of things to spend money on rather than a pizza or Big Mac. For example, a college student could use the money they spend on eating out and pay off interest on their student loans. By doing this, you are putting the already rapidly growing lump sum of money owed to your college on a standstill. Simply, the paid off interest on the loan will disable it from growing via interest rate. This could save a student hundreds if not thousands of dollars. It is hard for a college student to think “big picture” when it comes to finances, but they must. It is hard enough to pay off student loans as it is. Students must not make it harder for themselves by spending non-frugally.

Catherine was thinking of that new friend she could not shake. The “freshman fifteen” is a term given to the weight gain college students undergo because of eating habits and “weekend habits.” Convenience foods around campuses are not agents to great health. According to, fast food restaurants produce 28.5 pounds of grease per day. So what? Grease just upsets your stomach, right? That would be incorrect. Grease contributes to weight gain, clogs up arteries and does not digest well at all. If you are consuming grease, you better believe you are consuming fats too. I am not referring to the fats necessary for a balanced diet. These fats are called trans fats and are prevalent in fast food chains. Trans fat raises total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein, which is commonly called “bad” cholesterol. Also, trans fats have been under preliminary research and revealed a potential connection to higher risk of developing prostate cancer, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. Good news, though! You can avoid all this. By packing your lunch, you have the option to pick healthy fats, carbohydrates and proteins. For young people, we must be motivated to be healthy. People who are healthy have higher energy levels, are less likely to have disease, and have longer lifespans. That all sounds appealing to me… Not to mention, you might catch the eye of that girl or guy you are constantly staring at in English class. Who knows?

Not only are fast food chains encouraging us to consume unhealthy substances but they are hurting our environment also. Bruce Watson sums up this subject politely but clearly.  Watson says in his article, “When you think of green companies, fast food chains don’t exactly top the list. Fast food, after all, takes ingredients grown in monocultures around the world, transports them in gas-guzzling trucks and ships, then prepares them in air-conditioned kitchens before swaddling them in piles of plastic and paper that will eventually find their way into landfills. Overall, not an Earth-friendly process.” Do you see recycling bins at McDonalds? I certainly never have. Also, Starbucks uses single-use paper cups and 80 percent of their products are taken out of their stores. This means their paper cups are on the side of the road somewhere or in a trash can at someone’s work, which will all end up in our rapidly growing landfills. It is a problem because as consumers, we become a part of the problem. Some chains are making an effort though. For example, Chipotle has been using low-maintenance durable recycled finishes and materials along with water-based sealants and non-toxic cleaning supplies. Hopefully, other chains will follow their footsteps.

Now, how can you avoid all this by packing a lunch the right way? Do not worry, I will tell you. For one, stock up your cabinet with healthy food choices. Things like wheat bread, fiber bars, apples, low-sodium pretzels, lunch meat (turkey, ham), etc. are foods to be stocking up on. You can go online and search this stuff. Two websites to check out are and You can experiment with your own preferences and find lunches that are healthy and appetizing to you. While you’re stocking up on tasty foods pick up these items; lunch box, reusable food-storage containers, recycled aluminum for sandwiches, and a reusable water bottle. Yes, this all cost money but it is an investment worth your while. Trust me, I have been using all these accessories for a long time and it has saved me money. Next, set your alarm 15 minutes early so you can assemble the lunch. Look at that. There are only two steps and it is that easy. This is achievable! I cannot stress it enough. It does take effort but with effort comes change. According to, in 2010 there were 21 million people enrolled in college universities. Think if all these college students did this. A change could be made and you can be apart of it!

As I said earlier, packing a lunch the right way is the best way to go. You will help yourself and the environment. Now, I do not want to be radical. You can stop in to the food court and treat yourself to a quick meal every now and then. I am sure your college would not like it if everyone stopped going there all together. Anyone can do this. Myself, an NKU freshman, pack the right way everyday. I am no strange magical being. I am taking part in the change and you can too!