In my opinion, “The most important meal of the day” is whichever one you are about to eat!
Though many people are home for breakfast, and whip out the cooking utensils for dinner, lunch tends to be the meal that is forgotten about. That is, until you lay down in bed and realize that you haven’t thought about what to eat at work. Or worse, until you open your work bag to find a sad looking lunch looking back at you.
To avoid this scenario, many Canadians end up relying on restaurant meals to fill in the lunch gap.
It’s no secret that restaurant meals are often higher in calories, fat and sodium than food brought from home. But eating lunch at restaurants or picking up food can quickly add up in terms of calories AND money. According to CBC over 60% of Canadians eat lunch out once per week and spend an average of $8.80 on a given lunch while 9% of Canadians spend $25.00 on lunch!
So if you want to whittle your waistline without wittling down your wallet- packing a lunch seems to be the way to go.
BUT……at the top of the list for reasons people tend not to bring lunch is time. With hectic life schedules it can often be challenging to find the time to pack a healthy lunch. So to help you out, here are some of my top tips for ensuring a healthy balanced lunch every day:
1. Shop with lunches in mind. When you go shopping for the week keep in mind what will be for dinner and which ingredients will be packed for lunch to ensure you have enough groceries for lunch every day.
2. Prepare lasting ingredients in advance. Find making a salad nightly overwhelming? Prepare one large salad on Sunday and divide into containers for the week. Then simply top with leftover protein and whole grains from last night’s dinner to make a balanced lunch.
3. Divide and conquer: Can’t make your own lunch every day? Split the work with your favoruite lunch spot. Maybe pick up a sandwich on whole grain bread, and supplement with your own sliced vegetable bag from home. Or pick up a pre-packed salad from the grocery store and top with a poptab tuna or salmon can for protein.
4. Keep nonperishables at your desk. It happens to the best of us; something comes up, work gets in the way, and it becomes clear that you are not going to be leaving your desk for lunch. Keep whole grain crackers, v8 juices, poptab tuna cans, oatmeal or roasted nuts at your desk. Mix and match items to create a balanced lunch without leaving the four corners of your office. Is it the most beautiful, decadent lunch ever? NO. Does it leave you satisfied from a balanced lunch and ready to tackle the rest of your day? YES! And that makes this dietitian very happy.
5. Lastly when you do need to eat out, make healthy choices at a restaurant. Remember to choose a dish that allows you 1/2 plate of vegetables, and the remainder whole grains and lean protein.
It’s time to launch a lunch revolution. That’s not to say that a beautiful lunch is going to happen every day. But it is to say that by packing healthy, delicious lunches in advance, your money can be better kept inside your now looser fitting pants.