Bag lunches are not really known for being glamorous, or even that appetizing. This helps explain why so many people opt to buy lunch from restaurants and cafes. Unfortunately, this is not only an expensive habit, but eating out often adds a sizable amount of calories to your diet. Of course, a homemade lunch consisting largely of junk food will also be lacking in nutritional value.
Fortunately, it doesn’t take much effort to make your bag lunch healthier and more appealing. The next time you make a bag lunch for work, try giving these tips a shot:
Pick a Better Type of Bread – Whether it’s made with peanut butter, tuna or turkey, a sandwich typically requires two pieces of bread to hold its ingredients together. It’s easy to overlook bread when making a sandwich, since what’s between the two slices tends to get more attention.
While it may not seem like it would make much of a difference, picking whole wheat over white bread is good way to improve the quality of your lunch. Whole wheat bread has roughly two grams of fiber per slice, far more than the 0.7 grams found in a slice of white bread. In addition, bread made with whole wheat has more selenium and manganese, and tends to make for sturdier sandwich-building material.
Make Good Use of Leftovers – As healthy and tasty as they can be, sandwiches can get kind of boring after a little while. A good alternative would be to substitute this lunchtime staple with leftovers, such as homemade pizza, casseroles or pasta.
Change Things Up – It can be rather hard to resist the urge to buy lunch, especially when you bring the same foods to work every single day. Opting for different types of sandwiches can make these cravings more manageable. Some suggestions are shown below:
- Sliced chicken, lettuce and tomato on whole-wheat bread
- Lean, sliced turkey or tuna on a whole wheat-bagel, with fresh tomato and low-fat cheese
- A tuna pita sandwich, made with a whole-wheat pita pocket, ¼ cup of shredded lettuce, half a tomato and a tablespoon of horseradish mustard
- Sliced lean turkey with romaine lettuce, tomato, apple and pesto on pumpernickel bread
Snack Smarter – Though they may appear healthy, many popular lunchtime snacks are loaded with unhealthy ingredients. Many yogurts, for example, are brimming with sugar, whereas crackers often include large amounts of sodium.
Fortunately, there are also a number of healthy snacks that can satisfy your appetite:
- “Ants on a log,” a silly-sounding snack made with celery sticks, peanut butter and raisins
- Trail mixes made with dried fruit, nuts and whole-grain cereal
- High-fiber granola bars with low sugar/sweetener content
- Hummus on crackers, pita bread or vegetable pieces
- Peanut butter on whole-grain, low sodium crackers