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Lunch Saving 101
Save time and money by packing your own healthy lunch

Making the Most of Your Lunchtime

Taking a healthy lunch to work is one of the simplest ways to trim your budget. Most people think nothing of spending $10 or so for a restaurant lunch, but over the course of a month -- or a year -- the expense can really add up.

Beyond the cost savings, most meals packed at home are healthier than foods at restaurants. You also avoid those large portions and all the fattening extras like chips or fries. Ultimately, a lunch packed from home packs a far more nutritious punch. When you pack lunch at home, you can control your portions and choose healthier ingredients.

LunchBlox™ is a great way to pack the correct portions for a healthier lunch. The snack and side containers are 1/2 and 1 cup respectively. They have easy-to-read measurements on the sides so that you know precisely what portion or serving size you are packing. Packing the correct portions and serving sizes is instrumental in making the rest of your day more productive. Plus, all the containers work together so that you can add on to create exactly what you need for a healthier lunch.

Ten easy lunchtime suggestions to save you time and money

Planning is the key to saving during lunch. For instance, whatever you plan for dinner tonight can easily become tomorrow’s lunch. Planning your grocery list is equally important. Experiment with this grocery list*, which costs $5 or less a day (salad dressing not included):

  • Whole wheat pita bread
  • Romaine lettuce
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 bag baby carrots
  • 1 bag of apples and oranges
  • 1 can of light tuna in water
  • 1 can of salmon (split for two meals)
  • 1 prepared grilled chicken
  • 3 cans of low-sodium, broth-based soup

These groceries make for a week's worth of delicious healthy lunches. The LunchBlox™ entrée kit is perfect for this! The entrée container has two drop-in dividers to keep food separate or to pack one serving without the divider. Use the snack container for spreads or toppings and the side containers for fruits, veggies, or other fun side. The Blue Ice™ packs work with the system to help food stay cold until you are ready to eat.

Here are a few ideas that you can prepare using the grocery list above:

Monday: A pita with lettuce and grilled chicken with light Caesar dressing; baby carrots and an apple

Tuesday: Salmon lettuce wraps with light sesame Asian dressing, a can of broth-based soup and an orange

Wednesday: Tomato and cucumber salad with olive oil and vinegar, tuna salad on pita, baby carrots and an apple

Thursday: A can of soup and grilled chicken on a bed of romaine with sliced apple and light vinaigrette

Friday: Garden salad with salmon, tomato, cucumber, and baby carrots, an orange and a can of soup

*compiled by American Dietetic Association spokesperson Angela Ginn-Meadow, RD

And if those ideas don’t excite you, try some additional inexpensive lunch options that are also simple to prepare:

Monday: Whole wheat tortilla wrap of hummus, lettuce, sliced tomatoes, feta cheese and black olives plus a carton of fat-free vanilla yogurt and berries

Tuesday: Whole wheat pita stuffed with vegetarian refried beans, salsa, lettuce and shredded cheddar cheese and apple slices with peanut butter

Wednesday: A green salad loaded with canned chunk light tuna, carrot strips, pepper slices, tomato wedges, red beans, and dried cranberries topped with balsamic vinaigrette with a cup of low fat chocolate milk

Thursday: A peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole wheat bread, a piece of fresh fruit and low fat yogurt

Friday: Whole wheat tortilla roll with sliced turkey, sliced low fat mozzarella cheese, red pepper strips, and lettuce leaf (chill and slice into bite size pieces) with fruit salad and a glass of skim milk

*recommended by Connie Diekman, RD, president of the American Dietetic Association

Save money on beverages by tapping into the office water cooler or bringing your own in a reusable Rubbermaid Hydration Water Bottle. If dessert is a “must”, keep fruit or low fat crackers or wafers on hand, or a few pieces of hard candy (key word--“few”). Bringing your lunch to work is a great idea for many reasons: it saves calories, it saves money and it even saves time, allowing you to relax at lunch instead of fighting the crowds at fast food places and restaurants. Pack some of these healthy lunch suggestions and see how much time and money you save!