Packed lunches to save £££s and lbs

Healthy packed lunch - Packed lunches to save £££s and lbs - Diet&wellbeing - allaboutyou.com

In these budget-conscious times, more than a third of us have stopped buying sandwiches at work and take a packed lunch instead, according to a recent Mintel report. A sandwich, bag of crisps and piece of fruit can easily come to £5, while making lunch at home can cost as little as £1 – a saving of £20 a week or £1,040 a year.

But while DIY lunches are better for our bank balance, they’re not always better for our body. For example, a homemade ham salad sandwich can contain almost three times more fat and saturates than a 6in Subway ham sub made without butter or margarine.

So how can you ensure your DIY lunch is good for your body and bank balance? The key, say nutritionists, is to choose items from the four main food groups. For a healthy lunch box, follow these tips:

Carbs

These should make up a third of your lunch:
• Use wholemeal or granary bread, wraps, pittas or flatbreads. Spread with salsa, tzatziki, reduced-fat houmous or pesto, guacamole, light mayo, or low-fat cheese spread, instead of butter or spread. They’re lower in calories and add flavour.
• Try wholemeal crackers or oatcakes.
• Make salad from leftover pasta, rice, potatoes or couscous.

Protein-rich foods

Include one portion from this group:
• Swap ham (which is loaded with salt) for leftover roast beef or chicken, boiled eggs, tuna, salmon, mackerel or sardines.
• Add beans or chickpeas to soups and salads or mix with tuna to make a sandwich filling.
• Add a handful of unsalted nuts or seeds.
• Houmous with veg, breadsticks or pitta pieces for dipping.

Dairy products

Include one portion:
• Choose light mozzarella, goat’s cheese or reduced-fat cheddar. Grating it means you’ll use less.
• Try individually wrapped cheeses, such as Babybel Light – an easy way to control portions.
• Cottage cheese or tzatziki – great for dipping.
• Low-fat yoghurt or fromage – pick lower-sugar ones.

Fruit and veg

Include at least one portion each:
• Cucumber, lettuce and tomatoes make sandwiches soggy, so pack separately.
• Add bite-sized pieces of raw carrot, peppers, celery, mangetout, sugar snap peas, broccoli florets or baby corn.
• Include a tub of grapes, berries, pineapple, melon or mango chunks, or fruit salad.
• Add a couple of tablespoons of dried apricots, dates, raisins or figs.
• Easiest of all, pack a carton of pure fruit juice or bottle of smoothie.

Foods to skip

Crisps and savoury snacks Swap for unsalted nuts, seeds and chopped veg.
Chocolate biscuits Try fruit loaf.
Cake bars Make your own wholemeal fruit scones.
Fizzy drinks Opt for diet ones or swap for water, fruit juice or smoothies.
Cereal bars Swap for fresh fruit.

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