W e are most tempted at our workplace to eat junk food. This is why it is important to pack a lunch box and save money while keeping healthy.

You know how tempting it is to buy a sandwich or a pie or some cake from the vendor; how easy it is to pop into your nearest chicken shop or take-away place.

You end up spending a lot of money on prepared food you could have made for less money at home (often healthier too).

Remember a healthy lunch doesn’t have to be expensive. Save money by making your lunches at home and bringing them with you to work. Plus you’ll have greater control to create healthy, delicious meals.

Beyond the cost savings, most meals packed at home are much healthier than foods at restaurants. When we eat out, we often get big portions and fattening extras – like the chips that often come with fried chicken. But when you pack your lunch at home, you can control your portions and choose healthier ingredients.

It may be a bit of extra work, but you can prepare your lunch the day before and put it in the fridge if you are smart and creative.

What Makes a Healthy Lunch?

First of all, make sure your lunch is balanced. Lunches that include some lean or low-fat protein along with carbohydrates will keep your body fuelled for the afternoon experts recommend.

In fact, the combination of protein and fiber from whole grains, beans, nuts, vegetables and/or fruit will give you the most satisfying and nutritious combination of foods that will keep you feeling full until dinner.

If you love sandwiches, use whole-grain breads, pitas, and wraps. Choose lean protein fillings like sliced hard boiled eggs, tuna fish, cottage cheese or lean meats. If you are vegetarian, you can always have lentils of chick peas on your sandwich. To add the green elements, you can add assorted greens, fresh basil, sprouts, sliced cucumbers, onions, and/or tomatoes. A favourite is cooked lentils with sliced beetroot and feta cheese. Use in a wholegrain sandwich or wrap or pita.

Leftovers with a Makeover

Sandwiches are far from your only option for a healthy lunch at work. Leftovers with a makeover can be a good call. Last night’s dinner, hard boiled eggs, vegetarian wraps, cereal, in fact, anything you enjoy at home can be packed up and eaten for lunch.

If you are doing this, just cook a bit extra for dinner so you’ll have leftovers to pack for lunch.

To take this idea a bit further, try cooking in bulk. On the weekend, make a big pot of chili, soup, or rice and beans and freeze into individual portions that are ready to take to work in a flash.

Canned or Packet Soups and Noodles

Canned and packet soups and noodles can be inexpensive, especially if you buy them when they’re on sale. Pack one of these with a fruit or a small salad to provide enough calories to keep you feeling full.

Lunches provide around one third of our daily nutritional needs, so it’s important to put some thought and planning into them. Here are some tips on how to prepare a healthy lunchbox:

Five steps to creating healthy, varied and interesting lunch boxes

  • Include a variety of foods – starchy foods, protein, dairy, and fruit and vegetables
  • Try different foods every day – no one wants to be eating the same meal five days a week
  • Vary the types of bread e.g. pitta bread, bagels, wholemeal rolls. You can freeze bread, you know? –
  • Cook extra rice/pasta in the evening – these can make great salads
  • Home-made soup (in a Thermos flask) is great for cold winter days, while salads are light and refreshing for warmer weather.

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