The summer is winding down and it’s time to get back into the habit of bringing lunch to work.
The proverbial turkey sandwich, apple, and Doritos might be well-established and slightly boring staples in your brown paper bag. But cheer up! Taking your lunch to work or school packs a benefit punch you might not have imagined.
Here are 3 ways a bagged lunch beats lunch out any day of the week:
Brown-bagging it saves approximately half what you would spend eating lunch out. So, if you’re currently spending $10 a day on lunch and switch to packing your own , that’s a savings of $1,300 per year! You can then put that money towards personal training at the club and reaching your fitness goals.
2. Portion Control and Immediate Gratification
Yes, the sandwich, apple, and even some Doritos can be healthier than eating out. When you pack your lunch, you are in control of what you eat. You’re also prepared when hunger strikes. Ideally, you are packing a lean meat (probably in sandwich form on whole wheat bread), some fruit, a snack, and maybe a small sweet treat. The portion sizes are controlled, and you can eat as soon as you get hungry.
If you’re like many, this scenario should sound familiar. It’s nearing noon. You realize you are hungry, drive to a restaurant, realize you have moved beyond “hungry” and into “starving” territory, wait some more for the server to take your order and then order too much food. You scarf it all down to return to the office on time, and end up feeling lethargic and way too full.
Everyone’s been there, but you don’t have to go there again. If you had your lunch packed, you could walk to the bench just outside your office, eat slowly while people-watching, and even have time for a lap or two around the block.
Which brings us to benefit number three.
3. More Time for Exercise
If you burned even 100 extra calories per day each lunch hour, that adds up to a loss of 7.5 pounds in a year. And with all of the calories you’ll save just by bringing your lunch, it could be even more. I know I would enjoy being 10 pounds lighter by next September!
So, how do you stay clear of the same old boring bagged lunch?
1. Try not to bring the same exact thing every day or you will start to dread your lunch.
Rotate between lower-sodium turkey breast, roast beef, or chicken breast lunch meat, tuna salad, maybe a bean salad or lettuce salad one day, and of course, leftovers.
2. Remake your leftovers if you don’t like eating the same exact thing.
Mix-in whole wheat pasta and some tomato sauce, serve over brown rice, or wrap it up in a flour tortilla with some low-fat cheese. Add in carrots, celery, zucchini, red/green pepper, or cucumber slices and a low-fat dip.
Toss in a few pieces of fruit (apples, bananas, cherries, and cut-up melons are all great, mess-free options), a “snack” item, such as baked chips, low-fat pretzels, or popcorn (remember to stick to the one-ounce serving size!), and a treat such as a fun-sized candy bar, one ounce of dark chocolate chips, or a serving of gummy bears, and you’re all set!
You should also add in a few items for your mid-morning snack and your afternoon snack. And to make it all much more fun, buy yourself a new insulated lunch box while you’re back to school shopping! Your co-workers will be green with envy when they see your Superman Thermos in the fridge.