Packing your lunch for work can certainly save you hundreds of dollars over the course of a year. But how about helping you lose weight or at least eat healthier? Taking a little time to plan on the weekend or the night before can provide you with a nutritious lunch that you look forward to eating. Here’s some tips on ways to keep it enjoyable:
1. Eat Out!
Okay, so our first tip is the exact opposite of what we just told you, but planning one day during the week that you’ll eat out may just give you the motivation to pack your lunch the other days. Also, try changing up your scenery by getting outside for your lunch and maybe even a quick walk afterwards with a co-worker.
When cooking dinner, consider preparing enough for there to be an extra portion or two. Put it in a container and have it ready to go for the next day. Consider doing this with your healthier dinners, and maybe not so much for those that are not as nutritionally packed.
3. Shop for Lunch
Just like you might plan dinners for the week prior to visiting the grocery store, plan lunches as well. Purchase the necessary ingredients and prepare lunch foods for the next day while you’re cooking dinner the night before.
4. Salad in Jar
This is all the rage and a fun way to get in your veggies. Make a few of these on Sunday and you’re ready to grab and go during the week.
5. Keep fruits and veggies ready to go
Bananas are great for this! There’s nothing special needed to bring a banana. Try preparing other fruits and veggies in advance, like washing grapes and apples or slicing up cucumbers, peppers or melons. Go ahead and put them in plastic baggies or containers, and you can just throw them in your lunch bag in the morning.
6. Prepare Egg Salad, Chicken Salad or Tuna Salad
Make your favorite salad ahead of time. Plan to use leftover chicken or tuna from dinner to make your lunch even more economical. Try this healthier recipe that uses yogurt instead of mayonnaise.
7. Stock Your Office
If you have your own office or cubicle, keep necessities like utensils, paper plates, favorite seasonings or other items to make it easier to eat in. Keep a few prepackaged healthy snacks for days when lunch just wasn’t enough. Think almonds, peanut butter and crackers, or unsweetened apple sauce.
8. The Fab Four
Trying to get healthy but not sure what to pack? Focus on packing one of each of the following four: a whole grain, a fruit, a vegetable, a protein. For example, chicken salad made with grapes, celery, and Greek yogurt on whole grain bread may enable you to get all four in one sandwich. Don’t wait until dinner to eat vegetables. Make it a priority to get at least one serving of vegetables in at lunch.
Although packing lunch in and of itself tends to lead to lower calorie intake, make sure what you’re packing doesn’t throw your good intentions astray. Limit or avoid white bread, chips, cookies and soda. If you choose to pack lunchmeats, look for nitrate free and lower sodium products. Also, don’t fall into the frozen lunch trap. Although there are just as many or more frozen lunches/dinners on the market that appeal to the health conscious, these meals often are very high in sodium and other preservatives.
10. Get Out of the Rut
Feeling in a rut with your lunch packing? Get online. There are many fun websites with photos and recipes for lively packed lunches that you can peruse for ideas and inspiration.