Friday, April 9, 2010

BYOL – Bring Your Own Lunch (and snacks) to Save Calories AND Money

If you’re like me, working the 9-5 grind in an office, then you know what happens when noon rolls around – lunchtime! One really good habit I got into right when I started working full-time was bringing my own lunch to work. Let me explain why.

Every morning, without fail, I make a sandwich or wrap (I try to mix it up to keep things interesting) to take to work for lunch. If, I am really pressed for time, I’ll grab a to-go cup of Progresso soup, frozen Lean Cuisine meal, or an organic lowfat burrito. Most of the time, however, I try to avoid these things since they are processed and loaded with sodium. Pressed for time or not, I ALWAYS bring my lunch. And, when you really think about the cost of bringing your own lunch versus picking up something to eat at a local eatery, how can you not make the switch to bringing your own lunch, especially in this economy!?!

Let’s say I didn’t pack my lunch for work and I picked up a sandwich at Quiznos five days a week. Let’s say I always ordered a regular-sized Oven Roasted Turkey and Cheddar sandwich. This sandwich has 510 calories (and that’s without any condiments) and costs approximately $7 (including tax). You do the math - that adds up to 2,550 calories a week for lunch and $35 dollars. Now, let’s say I packed a turkey sandwich with Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, and mustard five days a week instead. My homemade sandwich has approximately 300 calories and costs $3 a day. Your savings in one week: 1,050 calories and $20…can you say pedicure (or if you’re a dude, a new DVD)?!?

In addition to packing my lunch for work, I also pack snacks to keep around so that I always have a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack to keep me going. I can’t tell you how much money and how many calories doing this has saved me over the years. Yes, of course I am still tempted by the occasional piece of chocolate in the candy bowl, or the treats coworkers sometimes bring in, but more often than not I’ll always reach for my own snacks. Having healthy snacks around keeps me from ever feeling starved and rarely breaking down. So, what do I pack for snacks? Usually, a FiberOne bar, one or two pieces of fruit, 100-calorie pack of almonds, and/or a cup of Yoplait YoPlus yogurt. My snacks are definitely healthier and better for you than grabbing a bag of chips or pack of cookies from the vending machine! Plus, because my snacks are loaded with protein and fiber, I never crash at work from too much sugar or come home from work feeling famished.

The lesson here, packing a lunch and snacks for work not only saves calories and money, it’s healthier, keeps you energized throughout the day, and keeps you from raiding your refrigerator later. And, do you want to know the absolute best part about eating this way? Eating smaller meals throughout the day revs your metabolism versus eating only three larger meals a day. Who doesn’t want that? So, wake up 15 minutes earlier every morning and prepare a lunch and snacks for your work day, it is worth it!

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