Why Should You Pack Your Lunch?
Most work cafeterias offer a fair choice of lunch options but unhealthy and processed foods still dominate. Cafes and take away chains where you can order or go during your break rarely offer healthy alternatives and even when they do the prices are usually pretty steep.
Governments and health organizations have recently opened a discussion about the quality of foods sold in schools and declared a war on child obesity. They have made certain efforts to educate and encourage people to be aware what they eat. But bad nutrition seems an even bigger problem amongst adults who often eat lunch at their desk too busy to even look at what they are eating. Often, even if you would like to opt for a healthy lunch, its unavailability or price may put you off. After all we all need something quick and easy for work.
Have you ever considered taking packed lunches with you? It may seem like a lot of trouble but it’s actually a great way to control what you eat, avoid processed foods and preservatives and save tons of money! According to statistics an average American spends around $8 on buying lunch every day. That equals around $2000 yearly! Imagine, you could treat yourself to a nice trip for that amount instead of buying unhealthy food.
So, here are a few healthy and super easy ideas you can try for your packed lunch for work of whenever you are on the go (traveling, football game, day out etc.).
1. Wraps: Wraps are very tasty and you can fill them with pretty much anything. Add chopped peppers and humus for a vegetarian option or leftover chicken with lettuce and tomatoes for a classical dish. You can also use salmon or tuna for an omega-3 packed feast. Try replacing mayo with Greek yogurt or salsa.[caption id="attachment_1011" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Photo via Cooking Light & Johnny Autry[/caption]
2. Salads: Similarly to wraps, salad options are endless. You can make a chicken Caesar, a tuna and olive or a Greek feta salad. Shrimp are also a great source of protein and low in fat- use them in salads freely. Try Parma ham, brie, nuts and pear with a hint of balsamic vinegar for a touch of gourmet style. Remember to add dressing just before serving to avoid your greens turning soggy.[caption id="attachment_1012" align="aligncenter" width="481"] Photo via Family Fresh Meals[/caption]
3. Baked Potato: Potatoes are a good source of carbohydrates and will provided the energy you need for the rest of your working day. They are quite a neutral base so again you can top them with whatever you like, for example ham and asparagus with a handful of grated cheese or tuna with sweetcorn. For an even healthier version choose a sweet potato which is one of the best carb sources we know. It is a source of vitamin A, vitamin C, manganese, copper, pantothenic acid, and vitamin B6. They are also rich in potassium, dietary fiber, niacin, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, and phosphorus.[caption id="attachment_1013" align="aligncenter" width="564"] Photo via Kathy & LunchBoxBunch.com[/caption]
4. Healthy Sandwiches: Sandwiches don’t necessarily have to be boring or unhealthy. They key is to pick the least processed and the most natural bread you can get a hold of. Wholegrain bread is a good source of slow releasing carbs and fiber. You can use tuna, chicken, cheese or vegetable alternatives. For example chickpeas are a great source of protein. For an original sandwich try low fat brie with pomegranate salsa or cranberry.[caption id="attachment_1014" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Photo via Simple Veganista[/caption]
5. Soups: Soups are a great snack of main meal depending on ingredients and quantity. Take it to work to warm you up and keep you full for longer. Vegetable soup, chicken soup, curry lentil soup, mushroom – the possibilities are endless. Homemade soups tend to be low in calories and keep you full for longer due to their volume (high liquid content).[caption id="attachment_1015" align="aligncenter" width="308"] Photo via Eating Well[/caption]
*Tip #1: You may think taking food to work with you may be difficult or uncomfortable. You need a container, a bag, it may spill and make a mess….
Actually, there’s good news! There are a number of companies and producers out there that cater to the needs of packed lunch fans. They provide all types of leak proof containers in all colors and sizes. They even sell special cooler bags (Sixpack Bags, Isolator Fitness) that keep your food fresh and they look stylish too!
*Tip#2: To prepare a balanced packed lunch, don’t forget healthy, nutrient packed snacks such as nuts, fruit or granola bars. Enjoy a piece of dark chocolate occasionally in your lunch bag, too!
*Tip#3: You can keep it simple but make sure you get enough variety so you don’t get bored quickly. Make your lunches simple but tasty so you can keep up this healthy, money saving habit long term!