Eating out is increasing. Over 70 billion meals and snacks are served to Americans away from home each year, with more than 70 percent from fast food establishments. Studies show that when we eat out we consume more calories, fat and sodium. The average person eating just one meal per week away from home will gain an average of 2 pounds per year. And lots of people eat more than one meal away from home each week.
Many of us do not have the opportunity to go home from work during lunchtime. Therefore, the best way to ensure that our lunches will be healthy and safe – and a lot less expensive than eating out – is by preparing our own and bringing it to work. It’s also portable; you can take your lunch to the break room, outside for a picnic or to a nearby park where you can walk around and fit in some physical activity!
The following tips can assist you with your brown-bagging efforts:
- Plan your lunches; keep food stuffs on-hand for quick and easy preparation – bags of cut-up vegetables, fruit, yogurt, low-fat cheese, nut butters, leftovers (no more than 3-5 days old for meats)
- Make lunches the night before when you have more time; refrigerate if necessary, prior to taking the next day
- Have containers for soups, sandwiches, salads, fruit, veggies, grains and other foods ; this will allow for more options so your lunches don’t become boring
- “Spice it up” with gourmet condiments
- Microwave gives lots of choice flexibility, if you have one at work; if not, explore the possibility of purchasing one, possibly by employees sharing the cost
- Make sure to keep certain foods cold; if there’s no refrigerator at work, use an insulated lunch bag and cold pack