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You can take it with you: bringing your own food instead of getting to go or eating out.

I have been on a diet so I carry a couple of small snacks with me during the day. I usually bring my lunch to work and my bank account is very happy as a result. Additionally I love to travel and have taken to making a light meal or two instead of eating at restaurant or grabbing fast food to go, again the savings is great and I can't beat the healthy benefit. I don't mean to be conceited, but it is now becoming second nature. I am getting ready to go to So. California and I am putting together a small meal and snack as I will be on the road. I have noticed a few friends do the same thing. My question is do a lot of hounds do this? If so what prompted you to do this and what do you bring with you?

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  1. I bring lunch to work as a matter of course. However, one of the great joys of my life is eating local specialties wherever I travel, so I wouldn't ordinarily bring food on the road. Airplane snacks, sure, and maybe some cheese and fruit in case of emergency. But I can have my own cooking any ol' time - vacations are for branching out.

    2 Replies
    1. re: small h

      Yeah but, that is my problem, due to my travels I have "branched out" into several dress sizes. Lol.

      1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

        Understood. I would definitely adjust my behavior if I traveled frequently enough for my vacation meals to have that kind of effect. Or if I were seriously watching my weight (as opposed to just talking about watching my weight, like I usually am).

    2. I work in a small cabinet shop with the husband and wife owners. Leftovers from home, and a couple pieces of fruit are my lunch each day that I'm in the office through the lunch hour.
      The owners get to-go lunches from the local diners, fast food joints or Southern buffets every day. If hubby is going to be out of the shop for the day, wife starves unless someone can go pick up lunch for her.
      It's expensive and inconvenient. Sometimes I will walk over to BK and get her a burger (she can't leave the store, as she has a retail business of her own in the same building). I never get anything there for myself.
      I understand having a busy life, but a tuna sandwich doesn't take that long to make. They stop on their way in to work for a $3+ bowl of oatmeal from McDs or BK, while I've had my own oatmeal at home for pennies.

      I've always done this, so I kinda can't answer your question about what prompted me to do it. I'm just too particular about having good food, and too cheap, and don't need the extra calories!

      1. I drove cross the US by myself one summer and would get coffee early and then drive for an hour or so until I saw a sign for some small town. I would go there for breakfast--the local diner, coffee shop, whatever--and have their "specialty." Might be blueberry pancakes, hash, biscuits--something local. I would sit there and read the local paper and listen to the conversation around me. One of the highlights of the trip I would have missed if I'd packed my own food.

        1. Absolutely! I have stashes of healthy food in my bag, briefcase, office and car. I almost never eat lunch out, only eat diner out locally every once in a while..... I prefer happy hour and brunch locally when I do eat out.

          I love dining out when I traveling. I don't eat airplane food or fast food/greasy spoons so I research restaurant options before I go. I still pack healthy foods in my bag if I get stuck.

          1. Some clarification here. I do enjoy a meal out when traveling. It is usually one or two meals a day. This is not to say I limit myself and that I am not adventurous, I am quite the opposite, considering the numerous previous posts I am not a newbie to CH. At this point in my life I am trying to learn a little restraint.

            4 Replies
            1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

              I am with you in regards to traveling, and I know exactly when it started.

              I was traveling through the Balkans with a friend, and during the first few days I just remember feeling unpleasant foodwise. Either stuffed at times of day when I didn't want to be full, or starving at awkward times. My friend and I quickly realized that if we bought snacks/food for a light lunch then we were happiest eating the hostel breakfast, snacking during the day, and then a nice dinner.

              While it definitely worked out financially, the main motivation was definitely how we were feeling overall.

              1. re: cresyd

                We go with something similar, particularly in places where the norm is a large late lunch. So in Chile, or Italy, we'd have the light breakfast at the hotel, early, a huge, leisurely sit down meal at about 1 or 2 pm, and at night, bread, cheese, olives, salad, fruit at the hotel.

                This works best at places where you have some fridge space, though. In hot climates, storing stuff in the hotel room (or packing it with us during the day) can be problematic.

                1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                  we do the same thing across Europe -- but we reverse lunch and dinner.

                  Because markets (and nice food shops) are so easy to find across Europe, we usually buy things for a picnic and then go find a pleasant place to park and enjoy our surroundings. This is especially easy in France, as the French *love* their pique-niques, and you can almost always find a place to pull off the road where you can spread out a blanket - it's amazing how many little country roads have little lay-bys with a garbage can and very often even a picnic table (usually stone, as it's fairly indestructible).

                  Then we find a place for a nice dinner, if I don't cook with things I bought at the market that morning (and put in the cooler with a ziploc of ice).

                  Germany is usually a bigger breakfast with meats and cheeses, so we just buy some nibbly things for a snack/light lunch.

                  The UK throws it all out the window -- we all love a proper fry-up, so we have our eggs and beans and tomatoes and sausages, then just stop for some sort of snack around mid-afternoon.

                  1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                    What's best about the method in general is that it enables being able to adjust to the best way to appreciate restaurants (whether it's a long leisurely lunch or dinner) without being over stuffed, getting hungry/cranky at poor times, etc.

                    I really love to eat - but I can't imagine the idea of a vacation where the entire goal is to just have huge meal after huge meal.

              2. I do this all the time

                Mon-Fri: I eat breakfast at home, bring lunch and snacks with me. Usually yogurt/fruit, salad with some protein, couple hard boiled eggs. I don't think I have eaten in the caf in months.

                At the office I keep a drawerful of non perishable snacks-almonds, trail mix, whole grain crackers, a jar of almond butter etc. I keep a refillable water bottle on m desk too.

                In my gym bags I keep a bag of TJ's "Just a Handful" of raw nuts.

                When traveling I make sure I have healthy snacks in my handbag/brief case as well as a refillable water bottle. If I have access to a fridge and can get to grocery store I will buy fruit and yogurt for breakfast and get the makings for a packable lunch.

                We just got back from Disney/Universal and really only ate dinner out. We ate breakfast at the house and packed a cooler with healthy lunches, snack and drinks. Saved $$ and ate SO much better than most of the lunch options in the parks.

                On the weekends we are all in the habit of bringing a water bottle, some fruit and other snacks when we hit the road to do errands but I admit that we LOVE to got out on the weekends and often plan our errands based on where we want to eat lunch!

                1. I bring my lunch to work 4 days a week. Breakfast and snacks too, and it's all planned out a week in advance. Money and health are the reasons.... I wouldn't be able to maintain my weight loss if I ate out to lunch every day. My one lunch out per week treat is usually at Chipotle which is still under 500 calories. Plus, I am working at paying off all my consumer debt so I can have a better future, so any money I spend on eating out is money that is not spent on reaching my goals with that.

                  We will eat out to dinner maybe once a week, and I do eat at the arenas/stadiums when we go to sporting events.

                  If I'm traveling, I will eat out, but also try to bring snacks to munch on if I'm hungry between meals.

                  1. For a long car trip we often pack a lunch and stop at a rest stop or a local park to eat it (there's a gorgeous rest stop off of I5 north of Lake Shasta with picnic tables overlooking the river). Or we'll find a place that can make us sandwiches to go. We started doing this because I will not eat fast food, and make a practice of avoiding chains. Also, the West has miles and miles of nothing but miles and miles, so other options are sometimes slim.

                    1. A few years ago, had niece and nephew (about 13 & 15 yo at the time) over to go skiing n Poconos. Had SERIOUS discounted lift tickets & kds fit parents boots/skis well enough. The night before, made up 15 of what I usually call "beach sandwiches"... soft, snowflake rolls, salami, ham, provolone cheese and dab of spicy mustard.

                      The kids goodheatedly MOCKED me.. WHY are ya MAKING sandwiches. Said, if YOU have the $$ to buy horrible ski lodges burger... easily $5 and make McD's look like a STEAKHOUSE... knock yourself out!! Took along a big bag of chips and bought sodas when we got hungry. Threw in a few candy bars and we were set. The sandwiches disppeared and NOBODY went hungry.

                      A ittle OT, but skiing is EXPENSIVE... especially if you don't own equipment. When we got to moutain, kids saw signs for tubing... let's do THAT... let's NOT, unless YOU have $$ for it!?!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: kseiverd

                        I prefer to take my own food and snacks whenever I can - for work, car trips, etc. - because I have become a food snob over the years. Not only is most convenient and/or to go food cr@p but it is expensive too.

                        Speaking of skiing food, people brining their own food spilled over to the ridiculous events at our local mountain.

                        Families were bringing large roasters, crock pots and full size coolers and claiming several large tables for an entire day. It go so bad, there wasn't enough room for people who purchased food to sit down.

                        Management stopped the free cooking electricity and all day table occupation. People are still allowed to bring their own food into designated areas but they aren't allowed to cook or save tables anymore.

                        We always took our own food skiing but Dad would not allow breaks during the day, you were there to ski, not sit in the lodge (I can laugh about it now but he even discouraged bathroom breaks) We would have big tailgate picnics in the parking lot at the end of the day. Good memories.

                        1. re: kseiverd

                          Not OT at all, this is a good example of why it is good to brown bag when you can.

                        2. Yup, I do this all the time. I can't understand how my colleagues and friends manage to go out to eat nearly twice a day both in terms of cost as well as I just don't find much takeout food or unexpected eats very exciting and prefer my own food. I bring my food to work every day for lunch and if I'm at work late I will bring dinner as well. We go out to eat perhaps 1-2x a month but every other meal is from the kitchen which brings me delight as I get to eat what I want and control the portions and ingredients which is a double win for me. I also have quite "unusual" eating habits I guess or at least that's what the rest of the world always tells me. I'm a protein girl and so it's often hard for me to find any meals when I go out that have suitable protein and aren't overloaded with carbs so I just make it easy for myself and if I don't feel deprived by my own food than I don't see the point of having to find a place to eat and heading out for food.

                          1. I do bring snacks/lunch to work and sometimes if I'm going to be out and about and don't want to spend the $$$.

                            I have a small cooler/lunch bag that I stock with meats (prosciutto, capacola, salumis), nibbles of different cheeses (sardo, pecorino, taleggio), a bag of mixed nuts (pistachios, walnuts, almonds), and some fruits (apples, oranges, pears).

                            Sometimes I'll throw in a small cup of rice pudding or a small bag of cookies if I have any.

                            1. For me, a definite yes because I spend an average of two hours driving every day! I also feel that my hectic, stressful schedule makes me not have much of an appetite during my working hours, and so I usually prefer to spend time and effort on more substantial and enjoyable meals at breakfast and dinner, usually at home.

                              For the road and when I am working, I usually bring "grab and eat" fruits, such as bananas, clementines, apples and grapes. Also a mini Ziploc bag of mixed nuts, and maybe a few squares of chocolate. I even bring tea in a Thermos and have a spare teabag for refills. There is always time for a bite when stuck in traffic or in between meetings, and I find that my body is adapting quite well to this. I would rather indulge in a cup of coffee, with friends or alone, when there is time for a break.

                              The funny thing is, for the weekend and when on vacation, I am on a different mindset and can find an appetite to eat lunch at the regular schedule with everyone else.

                              1. I've almost always brought my lunch for work lunches. I'm not a huge sandwich fan and it is so easy to pack my lunch when putting away dinner leftovers. I've usually had jobs where the lunch break is just 30 min. making it very difficult to purchase and consume anything but fast food.

                                On car trips I always have a small cooler, thermos of coffee and snacks. If there is an interesting local option I'll stop for lunch if time allows. Otherwise I'd rather eat my picnic items than have fast food or bad food.

                                Once I'm at a vacation destination it varies. Trying new foods and restaurants is of interest to me and I research an area prior to arriving. I need a couple of cups of coffee before I walk out the door so I make that at my lodgings. I'll generally have a larger meal out and put together cheese, fruit, charcuterie, etc. for the other lighter meal. This is based partially on budget. The larger reason is I just don't want more than one big meal a day!

                                I always have water bottles (refillable) handy. I may make a stop at a coffee shop when sightseeing. Sometimes you just need to rest your feet and regroup! After drinking a cup I'm usually energized and ready to tromp on.

                                1. if "the road" has no interesting restaurants nearby i'd bring fresh high quality fruit, dried organic fruit, roasted tree nuts, maybe some Santa Cruz dark roasted crunchy peanut butter.

                                  all travel destinations are selected with good restaurants in mind.

                                  1. I bring lunch to work, and I bring snacks almost everywhere. It saves me money and dress sizes I believe, and sometimes both at the same time (I hate food shopping and getting hungry; snacks have definitely prevented some impulse buys). I do this with travel as well. I love splurging on great resorts, but I refuse to spend $5 on a tiny bag of peanuts (or $50 sunscreen!).

                                    1. Making coffee at home, rather than picking up from the cafe downstairs, has helped me to save a lot of $$. A side benefit is that I am not tempted to purchase sub-par, overpriced pastries :)
                                      As for mid-day meals... I have a home office, so I either eat whatever is left in the fridge, don't eat 'cos there isn't anything I want, or have lunch out for a meeting. Sometimes eating out is the best way for me to get out of the office. I try to keep a few fruit bars or nut bars in the car, in case of unexpected delays in transport.
                                      Recent travel has been by air, and I do keep fruit bars or nut bars, and an empty water bottle, in my carry-on bag.

                                      1. When we're going on a road trip that will be taking two days, DH and I sometimes will start out light and cheap with the first day's lunch..I make up a container of tuna salad or chicken salad, and put that and some fruit in my little cooler bag that I take my lunch in for work. We stop at a McDonald's at noon or so, and get two of the dollar mixed green salads and two drinks. We find a pretty park nearby and have a nice outdoor lunch at the picnic tables. It's a nice break from riding in the car, and we get to visit new places that we wouldn't have otherwise stopped at.