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Easy & Healthy Brown Bag Lunches

brownbaglunchesA few years ago I was working with a client named Sarah, who was hands down the busiest person I had ever met.  She wanted to make changes to her health but she felt that she simply didn’t have time to make her meals.  So instead of tackling all of her meals, we just started with lunch.

First we discovered that she was spending an average of $10/day at lunch.  Not a huge amount at each sitting, but when we added it up for the entire year she was spending $2,600 just on lunch!  Next, we estimated the calories of what she was eating.  Even though she was trying to make sensible choices, the average eating out meal contains over 1000 calories.  That is nearly twice as much as what her body needed at lunch.  This added up to an extra 265,000 calories per year!  Not to mention the additional sodium, fat and cholesterol.

Now that we had both financial and health reasons, Sarah was motivated to make a change.  Here were the three most important steps that helped her make bringing her lunch a healthy habit.

Create Some Meals That You Look Forward To

Bringing your lunch is one thing, but actually eating it is a whole different story!  I helped Sarah come up with a few go-to recipes that she really loved.  Here are a few of her favorites:

Sweet Spinach Salad

  • 2 cups spinach
  • 4 oz. chicken or ½ cup lentils
  • ½ cup sliced strawberries
  • 1 oz. crumbled goat cheese
  • ½ cup quinoa
  • 2 tbsp. raspberry vinaigrette

Combine and enjoy!

Roasted Red Pepper & Turkey Wrap

  • 1 whole wheat tortilla
  • 2 tbsp. roasted red pepper hummus
  • 3 slices turkey breast
  • 1 cup spinach or salad greens

Spread the hummus on the tortilla.  Add the turkey breast and greens and roll up into a wrap.   Serve with fruit or a side salad.

Ham & Avocado Sandwich

  • 2 slices whole wheat high fiber bread
  • 2 slices ham
  • ¼ avocado
  • 1 thick slice tomato

Combine all ingredients into a sandwich.  Serve with fruit or a side salad.

Leftovers

Although Sarah wasn’t making dinner at first, we learned that her dinner meals were over 1000 calories as well.  So she cut each dinner meal in half and ate a portion for dinner and then the leftovers at work the next day.

 

Make a Weekly Plan

I know that you are sick of hearing me talk about meal planning but I promise that if you react to your hunger it is going to take over and you will end up in the drive-thru!  Sarah used my weekly meal plan (which you can download for free right here!) and filled in the lunches using the recipes above as well as considering her schedule.  Although it took a few minutes at the beginning of the week she ultimately saved a lot of time and stress by knowing what she was going to have each day.

Get Out of the Office

Sarah quickly realized that even though she didn’t have to go out and get lunch, she still really needed a break during the day.  Our lunch breaks aren’t just for eating but also to give us a mental break during the day.  Make sure to still take a pause at lunch and get up from your desk.  Even quick walk around the block or a conversation with your co-workers will give you that break you need to keep you happy and productive through the second half of your day!

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