What’s lunch got to do with it?

 
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Lunch provides energy to get through the mid-day slump and contributes important nutrients to our diets. It may also help to control cravings and reduce the chance of mindless snacking, especially at work. But with the cost of food going up, some may opt to skip it completely or grab fast food. For most individuals, it’s just as important as breakfast.

While fast food may seem inexpensive, it can add up financially and physically. A fast-food meal (complete with sandwich, drink and a side) may cost up to $7.00 at some fast-food chains. In addition to being expensive, these meals include more calories, sugar, fat and sodium with less vitamins, minerals and fiber than food we might eat from home.

Our taste buds also get used to having more salt, fat and sugar. The more often we eat these highly palatable, processed foods, the more we tend to crave them.

A healthy lunch doesn’t have to be expensive or overly processed. With a little planning, you can save money in addition to reducing intake of excess calories, fat, sugar and salt. Below are some thrifty lunch ideas that will cost less than a few dollars each:

• Pack a reusable water bottle. Staying hydrated reduces fatigue to get you through the day. Water is free to
boot!
• Eat your leftovers. Pack food in a micro-wave safe container and enjoy the meal twice.
• Have a hard-boiled egg with whole grain crackers or toast, a side of raw veggies and fruit.
• Make a whole wheat wrap with your favorite hummus and chopped veggies and a side of fruit.
• Pack whole grain crackers with string cheese, raw veggies and seasonal fruit.
• Enjoy a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole grain bread, a side of Greek yogurt and an apple or grapes.
• Try bean soup with whole grain crackers and a side salad.
• Add canned beans or tuna to a large green salad and enjoy with a side of fruit.
• Make a yogurt parfait with Greek yogurt, frozen fruit and chopped nuts.

By Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD

PDF Handout: Lunch for Health

LunchHandout What's lunch got to do with it?

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