Looking to save time, money, and calories during your lunch break? Here are 10 easy ways to power up your lunch:
- Get first-class transportation. Invest in an attractive and functional lunch kit. Many come with sections or individual serving-sized compartments to keep items separated.
- Drive-thru meal prepping. Pick up your favorite salad on your way home from work in the evenings for lunch the next day. Ask for cheese or meat on the side to keep it fresh. The next morning, just grab the bag and go. Check out these fast-food alternatives.
- Dress it later. Keep a salad crisp by packing the dressing separately. You can find some brands available in individual servings, use small containers to pack dressing, or request extra packets of dressing when eating out for later use.
- Deconstruct. Pack bread, meat, cheese, tomatoes and lettuce, cucumbers, condiments, etc. separately and put your sandwich together right before you eat.
- Keep the crunch. Pack carrot sticks, sliced cucumbers, peppers, apples, etc. to add a satisfying crunch to your lunch.
- Taste the rainbow. I’m not talking about candies, I mean veggies. Pack a variety of colorful veggies and fruits like red, black, and blueberries, green, red and yellow peppers, white bananas, black beans, orange carrots, etc. to make meals attractive.
- Rethink your drink. If you are doing physical activity in the heat, you might need a sports drink to replace the electrolytes lost in sweat; but if you work in an air conditioned office, choose water for the best hydration.
- You don’t know beans. These tasty, nutrient-rich gems are packed with protein, fiber, and antioxidants to help fight cancer and other diseases, help regulate blood sugar, and battle constipation. Beans come in many colors and flavors. They can be added to hot soups and stews or used cold in salads, and wraps. You can blend them into dips or hummus to pair with veggie sticks, pretzels, or chips. They are naturally low in fat and sodium which makes them heart-healthy.
- Walk it out. Reduce everyday stress by eating away from your desk. Walk to your car, an outside bench, or a different lunch area to break the monotony. Reserve 5-10 minutes of your break to take a short walk outside or in the halls to boost your mood and stretch your legs.
- Dump the slump. Don’t over-eat mid-day. Instead, eat to satisfy, not stuff yourself at lunch time. You can include an afternoon snack like fruit and nuts for late-day energy slumps and avoid the unhealthy options in the snack machine.
A little planning goes a long way in healthy eating. Embrace small changes as steps to a healthier and happier you. If you’d like to learn more about this or any other nutrition-related topic, contact your local VA to speak with a Registered Dietitian.
Franella Smith Obi is a registered dietitian at the Central Alabama Veteran’s Health Care System. She has been an registered dietitian for 18 years. She has three children and five grandchildren. Outside of work, her interests include creative writing, walking, hiking and photography.