Cheap & Healthy Lunch Ideas

28 May 2012

Everyone knows that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but what about lunch? During a busy workday it can be hard to take the time to eat more than a power bar and drink a cup of coffee, but in order to lead a healthy lifestyle, skipping lunch just isn’t an option. Eating lunch everyday has proven to aid in controlling your weight and preventing that dreaded 3 o’clock slump. Moreover, it can also be a mood regulator, seeing as once your stomach starts to growl there’s nothing like a good meal to kill that evil h-angry monster.

As you know, bringing lunch from home is cheaper and healthier than going out every day to buy it. Not only can you save big bucks by doing this on a regular basis, you can control the amount of fat, salt, and sugar content in your meal as well as the portion size. According to the Daily Mail, you need to consume 400 - 600 calories for your lunch to sustain you until dinner, and your meals should be low in carbohydrates to avoid fatigue later in the day. By the same token, depending on your daily schedule, it’s suggested that you eat lunch at either noon or 1pm. Any later than that may cause you to be over-hungry and more inclined to grab a quick bite at that hot dog stand across the street.

Making sure you have a meal ready to bring to work every day may seem time consuming, but a bit of planning ahead and getting into the habit of it goes a long way. A great idea is to make a big meal the night before, divide it into separate portions, then freeze each portion so they are easy to grab on your way out. Another tip is to make sure you have all your necessary condiments already waiting for you at work. If you have a communal fridge, it might be worth it to buy your own low-fat salad dressing and low-sodium soya sauce to leave there so you don’t have to worry about bringing all the fixings for each meal. Just make sure to label each bottle, unless you want them to run out before you’ve had a chance to use them.

If you are in need of a few recipe ideas to get your meal planning on the right track, below is a list of easy to make healthy dishes that will make lunch something worth looking forward to:

On the days when you don’t have a choice but to go out and buy your lunch, there are still places you can go for a healthy meal without spending more than $10. Consider getting one of the "6 gram of fat" sandwiches at Subway. Make sure you get it on whole wheat bread and avoid adding salt or any fatty sauces. If there’s a Whole Foods around your work, they have an excellent selection of healthy salads and pre-made meals to choose from. Sushi is another great option, and if you can get a roll without any mayo and on brown rice, all the better.

Eating a healthy lunch everyday doesn’t have to feel like a chore, and if you make sure to drink plenty of water and have some nutritious snacks on hand, like almonds, fruit, and yogurt, then you’ll never feel the urge to get a Big Mac and fries to satisfy your hunger. Just remember, you are what you eat, and there’s no reason you can’t be both healthy and frugal.

(Image credits: OptikfluffelMJorge, rusvaplauke)

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