Healthy Brown Bag Lunches
If you take your lunch to work you have made the first greatest choice in saving time, saving money and yes, saving calories for at least one meal of the day. It’s easy to decide to skip lunch when you have deadlines at work and seem to be too busy to even think about eating a nutritious meal, but lunch is a very important meal that keeps you from making thoughtless (and guilty) decisions later for dinner. Planning and preparation are the keys to making healthier lifestyle choices, including lunch choices. Read these tips to help keep your brown bag lunch a little more interesting than a boring sandwich and chips:
1. If you normally cook a fairly healthy dinner, cook enough dinner to take for lunch for a day or two. The grilled chicken breasts that you made last night paired with sweet potatoes make a great choice for lunch the next day. Make an easy provolone chicken breast sandwich for lunch by putting a slice of tomato, lettuce and low fat provolone cheese in a sandwich bag, a couple of slices of whole wheat bread in another with a small amount of vinaigrette dressing or hummus in a small container and you’ve got lunch. Your choice for the bread is an important part of the flavor and texture of the sandwich. Of course whole-grain breads such as wheat and rye more healthful and contain more nutrients than white bread, and they’ll also hold up better until dinner. If you are craving something crunchy or sweet, add a few baked pretzels and ginger snaps which have fewer calories and fat than regular chips and cookies.
2. Planning is everything. It’s easy to hit up the drive through for lunch, but you are spending unnecessary time, money and energy that you could be using for something else in your busy day. Sundays are usually a good day for people to plan and prepare their lunches for the week ahead. Slice and dice your veggies, chop up your meats and cook anything in advance that you can just heat up at work. If there is no refrigerator or microwave at work, try adding a frozen water bottle to your lunch container to keep it cool or bring lunches that are still tasty when not heated.
3. Since lunch is an entire 1/3 of the entire day’s food intake for most people, it deserves your time and attention. Challenge yourself to include protein (like lean meat or fish), color (like veggies and fruit), and dairy (like yogurt or low fat cheese) in every lunch to help maintain a balanced diet. Yogurt or a smoothie might not be satisfying enough alone, so try adding granola to mix it up. Be prepared for other times during the day that you will feel hungry for a snack and plan ahead.
Preparation and planning go a long way on your quest to weight loss, a healthier lifestyle or just maintenance. Planning starts by making a list before you leave your house to go to the store. Preparation is key for saving yourself time in the morning before you leave for work and ensuring that you don’t make unhealthy, thoughtless decisions over your lunch hour. Meals made at home are generally lower in calories, fat and added unhealthy ingredients. Ditch the typical fast food place or corner food stand this week and make it the brown bag week. Eat lunch from your own kitchen and save time and money in the process.
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Have a healthy week!