Make Lunchtime Easy and Healthy

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Cut fruits and vegetables at the start of the week. Getting in your 5-A-Day of fruits and vegetables is easier when these items are ready to go.

• Make lunch for tomorrow while you are making dinner tonight. This will help you maximize the time you spend in the kitchen. A roasted chicken or turkey breast can double for sandwiches. A stirfry can be put in a wrap and eaten chilled the next day.
• Use MyPlate to plan your lunch. Purchase whole grain versions of breads, pita pockets and rolls. Fill them with tuna or turkey and lots of vegetables. Pack fruits for desserts and snacks. Beans can be used in soups, salads and chilis. Yogurt and skim milk can be packed with iced gel packs.
• Make a healthy vegetarian bean chili once a week. Serve it with salad and baked tortilla chips the next day.
• Consider low-sodium vegetable juice for a beverage.
• Instead of chips, pack a small bag of light popcorn from time to time. Popcorn is a whole grain!

Save money!
Use the “bring your own lunch savings” calculator online at to show how much money you can save by not eating out. Bringing a lunch to work for $1.50 per day versus spending $5 per day from eating out will save you $875 for one year. This includes an investment yield of 10.5%. Here are some more tips to help you save money:

• Buy produce in season to take advantage of higher quality items at lower prices.
• Make your own “mini-packages” of healthy items. Buy baby carrots, broccoli, raisins, popcorn and whole grain low-fat crackers in bulk. Package them in mini sealed bags at the beginning of the week and save up to 50%.
• Make large batches of soups and stews. These usually use inexpensive, healthy ingredients such as beans, potatoes and vegetables. Freeze them in portion size containers and reheat them as needed.
• Bake a whole chicken or turkey and use it for several meals - roasted chicken, soup, sandwiches, salad, etc. You will save money and consume less salt than what is found in processed deli meats.
• Use less meat and fill your sandwich with more vegetables.
• Use unit pricing guides to help you save money on many items in the grocery store.
• Pay attention to prices each week so you can see if store specials are really a good deal.
• Buy what you need in quantities you can use. Wholesale pricing clubs sometimes offer great deals on larger quantities but the cost savings won’t materialize unless you are able to eat it all in a reasonable amount of time.

Keep it safe:
• Keep food handling surfaces clean. Check food preparation areas and utensils to make sure they are clean before you start to work.
• Wash your hands.
• Maintain proper temperatures while preparing and storing food for lunch bags and boxes. Don’t let food sit out any longer than actual preparation time.
• Keep hot foods hot. Use an insulated bottle for soups or chili. Make sure the food is brought to a boil before putting it in the thermos, especially if you are reheating a leftover.
• Keep cold foods cold. Using a frozen gel pack or frozen box of juice is very effective if you also use an insulated pack.
• Discard perishable leftovers after lunch unless you have a way of keeping them at the correct temperature.
• Use a refrigerator if available. Keep portable meals out of direct sunlight or away from other heat sources.
• FMI visit

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