Sure, it’s fun to eat out with your work colleagues. You get to trade gossip, show them pictures of your kids, or talk about your weekend plans.
As enjoyable as those restaurant meals may be, they can get costly. If shelling out $8 or $10 a day for lunch is depleting your pocketbook, it may be time to start a new habit: brown bagging it.
Making a healthy lunch
Strive for balance as you think about what foods you will place in your brown paper bag. Experts advise that a healthy lunch should include some lean or low-fat protein and some carbohydrates to give you the fuel to carry you through until the end of the workday.
Spice up your sandwich
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on white bread may remind you of your grade school days, and that’s not bad. If you want stay out of a sandwich rut, however, you may wish to expand your horizons beyond that reliable PB & J. Mix your lunch habit up with a healthy bread choice such as whole grain, pita or wraps. Stuff your bread with lean meats, fish or sliced eggs. Add a handful of lettuce or a crunchy vegetable like sliced carrots, cucumbers or other veggies to boost the nutritional value.
Take dinner into day two
Leftovers from last night’s dinner can provide the fixings for a great lunch. You might even want to plan to make a larger dinner than you would have previously with the plan to have food leftover for your lunch. If you’re feeling even more ambitious, you might try cooking in bulk. A pot of chili simmering on the stove over the weekend could be divided into lunches that would feed your whole family.
Another benefit of making lunch on your own is that you will be better able to control the portion sizes and calories you’re consuming. If you’re too busy to build a sandwich, you can grab a can of soup or frozen meal and pop it in the microwave at work.
If meals out are emptying your wallet or getting in the way of your desire to lose weight, there’s a good chance other co-workers are feeling the same way. Invite others to brown bag it with you and you won’t miss out on the social aspects of sharing a meal together. After eating lunch, you might also pursue another healthy habit by taking a walk.
Here are some more ideas for healthy, low-cost lunches.