Eating healthily with a frantic schedule isn’t always your main concern. After all, doesn’t it require effort to buy, prepare and pack lunch each day? Few people want to be bothered with one more task before the busy workday begins.
Too many paid lunches tax wallets and strain waistlines. Without healthy alternatives, many people eat from vending machines or skip lunch altogether. Eating regularly helps even blood sugar levels which prevent the midday crash men and women experience after eating carb-heavy or greasy foods. Here’s how to pack a healthy lunch for work in minutes…
1. Plan ahead
The key to stress-free lunch preparation requires planning ahead. Before the start of the new work week, consider how many lunches you’ll eat on the job. If your job requires taking clients out to lunch, count that as time off and opt for the healthiest food on the menu. Keep in mind, however, that you’ll be brown bagging it the rest of the time, so think about what you’d like to eat each day. Sit down and create a grocery list based on your responses so you’ll have what you need on hand to pack a week’s worth of healthy lunches.
2. Portion things out
It’s not just about eating healthy foods, it’s also about moderation. When packing a lunch for work, think portion control. If the foods you choose to eat aren’t individually packaged, you’ll need to determine the serving size and do it yourself in reusable containers. This prevents you from overeating and packing on the pounds. Even healthy foods have calories, so make sure to pack an adequate amount of water to stave off cravings. Thirst often disguises itself as hunger, so hydrate often.
3. Eat fresh
A general rule of thumb to follow is to eat food in its natural state. What that means is this: if given the option to eat an apple or applesauce, choose the apple. You’ll get more nutrients and less artificial colors and flavorings by eating items raw. Besides, it keeps plastic out of the landfill and more money in your pocket.
4. Pack a snack
Are midday munchies making you crazy? Curb the urge to pig out on chips and sweet rolls from the vending machine by having a snack on hand to get you through the day. Aim for items with 200 calories or less. A few ideas for you to consider include a handful of almonds or hazelnuts, a plate of fresh veggies with a sprinkle of lemon juice, salt and pepper, or a fruit smoothie made with soy or coconut milk. Measure things out in advance so you can grab a snack to put in your lunch bag and go without missing a beat.
5. Make your own dressings and dips
So many people make the mistake of packing a healthy lunch but drowning it in fattening dressings and dips. Don’t forgo the things that make you happy. Instead, learn a few simple recipes for vinaigrettes, homemade hummus, and bean dip. There are plenty online for you to choose from. You’ll enjoy the fruits of your labor without the guilt of increased fat, sodium and sugar ruining your day.
6. Spice things up
A little spice goes a long way! Transform ordinary food into extraordinary meals by getting to know herbs and spices. Keep your spice rack full and whenever possible, opt for fresh parsley, cilantro, oregano, basil, and mint. All the great chefs use spices to elevate their food. Do the same and you’ll enjoy each bite even more than you do when others cook for you. Most herbs and spices have very little calories, so sprinkle them liberally over your favorite foods.
7. Leave it to leftovers
Do you have leftovers from the night before? Why not reheat them and enjoy them for lunch the next day? Soups and casseroles often yield big portions. Save what’s left over in a microwaveable container or thermos, and eat to your heart’s content. A warm meal on a stressful day comforts.
Packing a healthy lunch ensures you’re getting the vitamins and nutrients that your body needs to remain energetic throughout the day. Prevent fatigue caused by low blood sugar by keeping a variety of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and spices on hand at home.
You’re on your way to living a happier, healthier lifestyle by the positive choices you make!