One sure way to stretch our shrinking dollar is to pack lunch and snacks daily. Spending $200 or more each day for lunch can really add up. If you buy lunch for 40 weeks at $1,000 per week, that would be a tidy $40,000. Another disadvantage is that most times, these lunches are not the healthiest choices. The type and amount of fats and seasonings used and the large portion sizes are disadvantages.
For those who prefer a substantial lunch, this is a good option. Invest in an insulated container perfect for taking a portion of what was prepared for dinner the evening before.
A portion of breakfast
Some people prepare a heavy Jamaican breakfast of ground provisions, vegetables and protein, which can be a packed-lunch idea. A cereal porridge also makes an ideal lunch.
Many people prefer 'lighter' lunches. Two slices of bread with a meat, fish or bean/nut spread will make a great sandwich. A small salad would complete this meal. Commercially prepared wraps and pita breads are now available on the market. However, they are easy to make and can be frozen for later use. You can have fun creating a variety of fillings - vegetables, chopped meat, fish and/or beans. They can be drizzled with a light vinaigrette or mustard dressing.
Quick vegetable soups can be made the night before and taken in your insulated flask. These soups can be made light or hearty and can be paired with a sandwich. Pre-prepare your soup-mix material in advance, maybe on the weekend. A combination of hearty vegetables and beans is perfect; add some chicken breast if you like. The night before, give it a quick start in the pressure cooker then add seasoning and allow it to simmer, while you are getting other chores done.
You should take snacks as well as these can also be costly. Fruits, nuts and small pieces of cheese can effectively keep hunger pangs at bay and add variety to your diet.
Taking a homemade healthy drink is recommended, but the perfect drink is water. Many homemade drinks are high in sugar. Even water is expensive. Taking your own from home can save big bucks over time.
Those who make a habit of taking packed lunches daily are already aware of the benefits of this practice. Others would love to start but find it onerous. It takes planning and investing in a proper container that maintains temperature and food quality, but it saves money and provides you with much healthier meals.
This simple habit can place you on the path to good health in 2010.
Rosalee M. Brown is a registered dietitian/nutritionist who operates Integrated Nutrition and Health Services; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.