Food and fitness matters with Tara

Lunch at the desk

Packing lunches can be a prime way to save money and ensure healthier options tailor made for your nutritional requirements and taste.

desk lunch

Be careful about what you eat at your desk.

As part of the ’50 Things to Make you Lose Weight Forever’ website, packing lunch is promoted in 10 different areas as an essential behaviour that healthy people do to stay at normal body weight and healthy.

Packing foods from home will improve portion control, reduce fat and sodium levels, and help you to eat on time. Many times lunch is the meal that is eaten at restaurants with too great a portion size and options for dietary disaster. Alcohols, dessert, oily sauces, are just a few of the all too common unhealthy options for lunch.

Packing lunch requires decision and a change in your daily routine, changing habits will require setting up for success. The best way to change a habit is to replace it with a new one. Sounds easy, so why don’t people just do it? The hang ups for making packed lunches are: time, options, and creativity.

Like any habit, packing lunches and snacks to work each day will take practice and time to master. A few mistakes will happen along the way, but do not give up. After all, the money and health you save will be your own.

Where to start? Look into your office lunchroom for appliances; is there a refrigerator or microwave? Next, make a list of menu options in categories: grain, protein, fruit/vegetable, dairy and extra. Options under each title may include: wholegrain bread, pita, tortillas, bulgur wheat, and cereals; poultry, fish, lean meats, egg, nuts, and protein bars/drinks; whole washed fruits, fruit cups, dried fruits, vegetable sticks, salads, and pre-cooked potatoes; yoghurt, cheese sticks, two per cent low fat cheese, cottage cheese, milk, and soy alternatives.

Make an easy menu with the options you have chosen, and go shopping. Remember to take your pad of paper with menu options as it is common to add to the list while in the supermarket.

Successful lunch curators tend to use these easy tips to make packing lunches part of their routine:

1. Cooking extra healthy food at the evening meal to carry for lunch the next day.

2. Researching online recipes that pack well on, or .

3. Ask fellow lunch packers what they make daily.

4. Shop in advance to have necessary items on hand.

5. Get a cooler bag and thermos to keep food at desirable and safer temperatures.

6. Find out backup options. These include: Grocery store salad bar, sandwich bar, and healthy hot food sections, as well as some fast food options. Be clear, however, the backup plan will generally cost you more and may or may not be as healthy as your own cooking.

Tara Godfrey is a Registered Nutritional Counsellor with the Canadian Society of Nutrition Management.