Tuesday, January 25, 2011

2011 To Do List: Bring Lunch to Work

Packing your own lunch is a great way to stick to those resolutions to eat better and save money. I always try to pack lunch, but generally only average about 3 days each week. It can be frustrating and stressful to run around trying to pack lunch in the morning so I recommend doing it the night before so you can grab your lunchbag and go. So next time you don't feel like making lunch, remember that there are some great advantages to brown bagging it.

Benefits of Packing Lunch

1. Saves money. If you spent $7 a day on lunch that adds up to $45 per week, $180 per month and $2160 per year! You can spent far less by packing complete, nutritious meals and snacks every day.

2. Healthier. Sometimes, depending on where you go, it can be difficult to find healthy choices. If you have complete control over what you are eating, you are going to make better choices. Additionally, when you make the lunch, you are in control of the portion size and the quality of the ingredients. If you avoid the cafeteria or the fast food restaurant, there is no danger of grabbing a bag of chips or a candy bar in the checkout line.

3. Saves time. Going out to get lunch can eat up your precious break time. When you bring, you can eat as soon as you get hungry and you have more time to enjoy a lunchtime walk, workout or get right back to work.

4. Saves energy/frustration. I work in downtown Boston, so I know what the noon lunch rush looks like. Waiting in lines, navigating slippery sidewalks, and dealing with other hungry, cranky people is not the best us of my lunch break.

5. Eco-Friendly. Purchasing lunch daily results in a lot of plastic and paper bags, packaging and containers being used and thrown away. Packing lunch eliminates a lot of waste, especially if you use a resusable lunch bag, water bottle, and baggies.

6. Snacks! If you're like me, you get hungry mid-morning and mid-afternoon. When I pack my lunch at home I always include yummy snacks to keep me energized. Snacking sensibly also prevents overeating at meals. It is always so nice to reach in my bag and find a healthy snack when I get hungry.

Quick and healthy lunch suggestions after the jump!



Quick Lunch and Snack Suggestions:

1. Leftovers - Pasta, soup, salad, quinoa cakes - just package and reheat if necessary. I find that bringing leftovers doubly saves me money because I don't spend on lunch and I also avoid throwing out and wasting leftover food that would inevitably have sat in my fridge. Make a big batch of soup or chilli on Sunday and enjoy throughout the week.

2. Hummus and fresh cut veggies like carrots, celery, bell peppers and cherry tomatoes. I bought these great 1/2 ounce rubbermaid containers at Shaw's for 5 bucks and use them almost every day.

3. Hard boiled eggs.

4. Greek Yogurt - its higher in protein and lower in sodium and carbs than regular yogurt.

5. String Cheese - yes, a childhood favorite. One piece of Frigo Light String Cheese has only 60 calories and 8 grams of protein.

6. Peanut Butter Sandwich. I love Teddy All Natural Unsalted Peanut Butter on Whole Foods Birdseed Bread. Its filling and rich in protein and fiber.

7. Single serving packs of tuna.

8. Salad - make a large salad and bring some with you every day. Add hardboiled eggs, quinoa, beans, leftover meat or tofu and nuts and seeds.

What are your go to lunch options? Share in the comments!

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