There are two truths most of us have to live with on a daily basis:
- We have to eat to survive
- Life is busy
These two truths together often mean that we grab for processed foods (chips, cookies, crackers) when we feel hungry. Other times, it’s just easier to order take-out or fast food in between meetings, classes or appointments. Of course, these foods often have less nutritional value and more calories than a sack lunch. With the New Year underway and many of us aiming to shed pounds or improve our nutrition, why not make a resolution to pack your lunch at least 3 to 5 times per week?
Packing your own lunch has many benefits including:
- It makes you more aware of what you are putting in your body. Ever wonder what goes into that fast food to make it taste so delicious? Well, it may not be very healthy. But if you make your own sack lunch, you have more control over the food that nourishes your body. Click here to get tips on easy, healthy foods to pack in your lunch.
- It saves you money. Even if you only spend $5 a day on lunch, that adds up to $25 per 5-day work week, $100 per month, and $1,200 per year! The average sack lunch costs a fraction of that so just imagine how much you could save if you cut out the take-out.
- It saves you calories. Not all fast food is unhealthy but for the most part, the portion sizes and calorie counts are larger than sack lunches’. If you’re looking to lose weight or improve your nutrition, one quick fix is to trade fast food for sack lunches.
So, packing a lunch is beneficial, but how do you fit this into a busy schedule? What if you’re at a loss for what to pack? Here are some ideas:
- Snacks like fruit and vegetables may only need a quick rinse and they’re ready to eat. Baby carrots with low-fat ranch dip, celery with peanut butter, and fruits like apples, pears, oranges and bananas make great additions to sack lunches.
- Nuts and dried fruits are also simple and quick snacks. Here’s a recipe for your own healthy trail mix and a quick Google search can turn up many more healthy snack ideas.
- Sandwiches are quick, easy and offer a lot of room for creativity. Switch up the whole grain breads you use (have you considered pita pockets?) and try hummus instead of mayonnaise. Throw in seasonal veggies and lean meats like turkey and chicken. Have some leftovers from last night’s dinner? Grab a tortilla and turn it into a wrap!
- Make one meal into two. Whether you ate in last night or went out for dinner, put half your meal in a container right away and put it in the fridge. That way you’re not tempted to overeat and you already have lunch packed for tomorrow!
- Cook a pot of chili or a casserole on your day off and split it up into portions for each day of the week. Bring them into work and store them in the fridge so you won’t have to worry about making lunch for a week!
Despite what it may seem, fitting healthy eating into a busy schedule is possible. And a great first step is trading fast food for sack lunches. With a little practice and a shift in planning, you can hit the sack lunch running in the New Year and progress miles along the path to better health.
Check out upcoming free and low-cost nutrition and cooking classes at Swedish that can give you even more tips on how to improve your nutrition and overall wellness in the New Year.