Lunch is a vital part of our diet; it provides essential energy, helps us to overcome the midday slump and fills our tummies. However, lunch can be costly.Breakfast and dinner are usually eaten at home but enticing lunchtime meal deals and tantalising takeaways do a good job of thinning our pockets. That’s why we’re going to give you some great advice on how to save some money and as a bonus, you’ll be eating healthier and feeling better.
The first step is to be decisive – make a decision that you’ll take lunch into work this forthcoming week. Your favourite café, toasted Panini and local pizza joint aren’t going anywhere.
There’s nothing wrong with a readymade sandwich now and then but every day is too much. To maintain a stable life full of vitality, apply the phrase ‘Everything In Moderation’ to everything you eat, drink and do. Eating readymade food every day of your life is bad for you but equally eating homemade lunch every day of your life would be boring… opt for the healthier choice the majority of the time and enjoy moments of indulgence that bit more!
Now, enough of the motivational talk; let’s present you with some hard facts and figures.
A Pret A Manger sandwich were found to contain more saturated fat than a Big Mac (individually)
A Subway sandwich was found to contain 4.7 grams of salt, more than ¾ of an adult’s recommended daily allowance and equivalent to 13 bags of Walkers Ready Salted crisps
Inspired to get chopping? Read on…
Do a shop on the weekend, local grocery stores usually bump up prices so if you don’t have a big supermarket near you, order online. Think about what you want for lunch the following week and try to strike a balance between ingredients.
When buying bread or pitta, go for seeded, granary or wholemeal varieties; they contain more fibre, folic acid and vitamins than white bread. Go for brown pasta (full of whole-grain and mineral content) and rice noodles which are gluten free and low in sodium and fat.
Vegetables are great as they are so diverse. Lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots,peppers, onions, mushrooms, courgettes…the list goes on. They can be used with bread, pasta and noodles, included in salads, eaten as snacks and even roasted for larger dishes. Add some fish, chicken and eggs to the list and you’ve made your lunch tastier and added some protein. Load the bags up and you’ll have a world of options available to you.
Whip up a sandwich on good bread, go for chilli noodles with fish, or a tossed salad with chicken. Then how about roasted veg with brown pasta or heaps ofscrambled eggs with seeds and avocado (brilliant for glowing skin and a whole lot more)? Prepare your lunch the night before so all you have to do in the morning is pack it in a bag and run for the bus.
Yoghurt – Greek yoghurt is amazing. It’s creamy, delicious and good for you! Greek yoghurt is low in calories, contains abundant amounts of calcium, active bacterial cultures (good bacteria) and most of the stuff contains no fat. So while your taste buds are tingling, your bones will be getting healthier and your digestive system stronger. You can eat and enjoy Greek yoghurt by itself, with fruit, with cereal…
Nuts – Nuts are a brilliant addition for your desk. Satisfy those hunger pangs with the protein rich snack. They lower blood cholesterol, prevent heart disease and fight cancer… win win. The options are endless… choose from cashews, pistachios, almonds, walnuts, Brazil nuts, or broaden your horizons and get a pack of mixed nuts!
Fresh fruit and Dried fruit – Both are great. Fresh fruit is often more satisfying as you can taste the juices and chuck any leftovers into a blender and slurp a delightful smoothie. We recommend that you stock up on a selection of both. Dried fruit lasts longer and some dried fruit contains the same nutritional value as fresh fruit (check what you buy as it varies from fruit to fruit and some brands load with sugar). Give the packet of nuts on your desk a friend!
So, get shopping and rustle up some deliciously healthy lunches! What have you got to lose?
Written by Dr. Noel Duncan