Heading out to lunch with your coworkers yet again? Not so fast. Your lunchtime dining out routine is likely doing damage to your waistline- and bank account. Bring your lunch to work a few days a week and the results can add up fast.
Instead of spending your precious lunchtime minutes driving to a café, fill the extra time by being active. If you miss the social aspect of your lunch hour, invite your coworkers to join you. Enjoy your brown-bagged lunch in the cafeteria and follow it up with a brisk walk near your office building. Bringing your lunch to work can help you cut calories, get some exercise, and save money. What’s not to love about that?
A healthy meal that keeps you full through your afternoon meetings must have these components: protein (think beans, nut butter, lean meat, or reduced-fat dairy), whole grains (like whole wheat bread or brown rice), fruit, and/or vegetables.
Try these nutritious, affordable, transportable meal ideas:
- Pasta salad made with whole-grain noodles, reduced fat cheese, peppers, peas, and a light vinaigrette.
- Hummus, sprouts, carrots, and cucumbers in a whole wheat pita.
- Chicken, tuna, or egg salad atop a bed of raw spinach, grapes, and berries.
- Natural peanut butter and sliced banana on whole wheat bread.
- Low-fat cottage cheese or Greek yogurt mixed with peaches and reduced-fat granola.
- A tasting plate of sliced apples, peppers, carrots, celery, whole wheat crackers, cheese, nut butter, and hummus.
- Leafy greens topped with your favorite veggies, sunflower seeds, and chickpeas or grilled chicken.
- Black beans, corn, diced peppers, and onions mixed in lime juice, olive oil, and a dash of salt and pepper.
- Cooked quinoa or brown rice topped with pumpkin seeds, crumbled goat or feta cheese, chopped carrots, diced peppers, and a light vinaigrette.
- Low sodium soup with whole grain crackers. Keep the soup in a microwave-safe container.
- Last night’s leftovers. Cook larger servings for dinner so you have lunch for the next day.
Stock these healthy snacks at your desk (or in the office fridge):
- Bananas, oranges, apples, or no sugar added applesauce
- Reduced fat cheese sticks
- Lightly salted peanuts or almonds
- Raw carrots, snap peas, celery, or peppers
- Individual containers of Greek yogurt
- Rice cakes
Use these items to make healthy snacks with staying power. For example, top a rice cake with cheese and a sliced apple. Or add a handful of almonds and a banana to a cup of Greek yogurt.