Packed lunches – here’s what you should be eating at work

We live in an age of convenience, where everything we want and need is right at our fingertips lan messenger. This is especially true for convenience food; cooked, packaged and ready to eat within the time it takes to boil a kettle.

What many people don’t realise though is that while these meals are just that, convenient, they’re often far from nutritious. Ready-made meals are often high in salt, calories and preservatives, and the same (if not more), goes for fast food meals. They’re not just bad for our health though, they’re also bad for our wallets, and if you’re spending R50 a day on buying lunch – it’s going to add up pretty quickly.

So what can you do? Start taking your own lunch to work. But what, I hear you ask? Take a look at some of these ideas. They’re tasty, nutritious, and they’ll save you money.

1.       Left-overs from last night’s dinner

Soups, salads, pastas, stir fry vegetables and noodles, and home-made burgers are just a few of the meals that make great next-day lunch boxes. Plus, your homemade dinners will probably have less fat and calories than similar convenient meals. All you need to do is make an extra or double portion the night before, and you’re good to go.

2.       Sandwiches, wraps and pitas

We’re not talking peanut butter on a white bread slab. We’re talking fresh whole-grain or rye bread, topped with low-fat cottage cheese, hummus or tzatziki, grilled chicken, tuna, boiled eggs, rocket and baby leaf salad, avocado and cherry tomatoes. Sandwich fillings such as these are not only filling (in a good way), but they’re also nutritious and count towards your ‘five-a-day’ and protein intake.

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3.       Snacks

Often, it’s the food we snack on between meals, such as that packet of chips or bar of chocolate that tips us over the edge of our recommended daily calorie intake. Rather, stock your office desk draw (and fridge) with snacks that will keep you full between meals, and actually have some nutritional value. Dried fruit, unsalted nuts, low-calorie cuppa-soup, rice cakes (topped with hummus or cheese), biltong, low-fat yogurt, and Provitas with Marmite or peanut butter are just a few healthy snacks that’ll help curb that afternoon snack attack.

If you’re used to buying food every day, then it might be difficult to convert straight to a “bring your own lunch to work” person, which is fine. Simply start by taking your own lunch 2-3 times a week, and take it from there. Not only are you going to save yourself a fair amount of money on a daily basis, but you’re also going to be more conscious of what you’re eating, which means you could also expect to lose a few kilograms.