Why you should take your lunch to work

Business woman eating lunch

Image: sukiyaki/Bigstock.com

Lunch—it’s a meal we’re all familiar with yet many of us find it to be a struggle. Throw in a busy working week and lunch can be a pain to plan and prepare for.

It’s so much easier to buy a bite to eat at the café or canteen, right? While the lure of a quick-serve salad or sandwich might be tempting, is it healthier than what you can pull together yourself?

We’re here to spread the word—a little lunch can go a long way!

What’s the benefit of a packed lunch?

One major advantage of a packed lunch is that you know exactly how your meal was prepared, and its ingredients. Leaving your food preparation up to someone else generally means you sacrifice quality wholefood ingredients for cost savings.

Meals bought outside the home are typically more energy-dense than home-cooked food. In fact, 92% of restaurant meals have too many calories according to a 2016 study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

This excess intake of calories is what contributes to weight gain. Add a sedentary desk job to that equation and watch your waistline expand even faster.

The quality of those extra calories is not as high a priority either. For example, commonly used oils tend to be cheaper (and therefore more inflammatory) because kitchens need to use industrial amounts.

Bringing in an old-fashioned sack lunch is also a cheaper solution. If you were buying lunch on a daily basis, you may spend on average anywhere from $20 to $60 per week. That money can really add up over the course of a year!

Sure, you may have to factor in more lunch items on your shopping list, but even so, you’ll still be saving a pretty penny!

Bringing in your own lunch also saves time during a busy workday. Stepping out to buy a meal often means time away from the office, a wander around to find what you feel like eating, standing in line and then waiting to pay/pick up your meal.

By the time you actually get around to eating, your break is nearly over. Think of those wasted minutes! Bringing lunch would mean you actually have time to savour your meal and enjoy a more relaxing break.

Tips to help you plan ahead

  1. Invest in some good cookbooks or browse the internet for recipe inspiration. Check out Sue Radd’s latest book Food as Medicine.
  2. Design a 7-day menu plan to suit your week and personal needs.
  3. Choose your cooking nights—be realistic! Consider your schedule and anticipate your motivation to cook.
  4. Grocery shop in advance. Having everything ready to go relieves stress and saves time.
  5. Prepare more one-pot meals such as stews, soups, chilli con carne—you can cook in bulk and there’s minimal washing up!
  6. Use leftovers wisely. Refrigerate for tomorrow’s lunch or store in the freezer for future lunch/dinner meals.
  7. Share cooking nights with your family and friends. Sometimes the best ideas come from others.

Sue Radd is an Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian and one of Australia’s leading nutritionists and health communicators. Her most recent book Food as Medicine: Eating for Your Best Health received the Gourmand World Cookbook Award for Best Health and Nutrition Book in the world for 2016.

Category: Physical Health

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