Most foods prepared by restaurants, traditional or fast food, pack a wallop of calories, fat and sodium. There are a few healthy choices out there, but even when you aim for a low calorie meal, you often miss the mark. A typical fast food meal consisting of a hamburger, medium fries and medium soft drink contains a whopping 800 calories and 25 grams of fat.
Still want a burger? Brown bag a meatless burger with sliced tomatoes, lettuce and pickles. Skip the mayo and use flavorful mustard and ketchup. Throw in some baby carrots and fresh fruit and you're looking at a mere 350 calories and 4 grams of fat.
And while this lunch contains fewer calories, it packs in more vitamins and minerals. Plus you'll have time for that walk that you never seem to be able to fit into your lunch break.
When making lunches, use fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean protein to keep you energized. If morning time is hectic for you, try packing your lunch while waiting for supper to cook. And when preparing vegetables for dinner, place some in a container for lunch.
I love to cook a little extra at dinner and re-invent it as lunch. And there are many frozen food items that fit nicely into a lunch bag -- just look at the nutrition facts panel to make sure they are low in calories, fat and sodium.
Packing your own lunch can be quick and easy, and save a lot of money. So splurge a bit and buy a reusable lunch tote. You won't exactly be "brown bagging it," but it will have the same affect on your waistline and pocketbook.
Megan Porter, RD