To continue our tips and tricks for staying healthy while on a budget, we’ve brought things back to the basics for one very important meal…lunch! Whether you are at home or at work, eating home-prepared food will not only help you save money during lunchtime, but will also cut your calorie intake to about half  of what you would be consuming if you ordered out. Some of the main benefits to preparing your lunch at home include:

  1. Controlling nutritional content including calories, fat and salt
  2. Choosing quality ingredients (local and/or organic)
  3. Controlling portion size
  4. Helping the environment by not eating off paper plates and using plastic eating utensils
  5. Making your meal exactly the way you like it!

Below are some great suggestions for making lunch as cost-effective and nutritious as possible!

Heather’s Tips

Tip 1: If you are out during lunchtime, whether it be at a business lunch or dining with your girlfriends, make sure to still stock up on healthy snacks at home and at work. At our office we always bring fruit, cheese strings, yogurt and cottage cheese to leave in the fridge to have on hand for a quick afternoon snack. To save some money, buy these snacks in bulk and make sure to buy whole produce instead of the pre-cut variety to cut costs.

Tip 2: Make your own coffee in the morning and bring it to work in a mug. You can save over $800 each year just by avoiding the big name coffee shops and brewing up some joe at home.

Stephanie’s Tips

Tip 1: Use leftovers from last night’s dinner to help minimize preparation time and alleviate lunch boredom. Plus, knowing that you’re using part of your leftovers for the next day, helps you avoid going for that second helping of food at dinnertime. A lot of leftovers, including stews and stir fries even taste better the next day. Keep Ziploc bags & GladWare containers at home in various sizes to use for those leftovers.

Tip 2: To save big, bring your Camelbak® water bottle instead of using bottled water. Plus, it’s really fun to drink out of!

Dara’s Tips

Tip 1: Instead of waiting until the morning which can be a busy and hectic time to prepare your lunch, get all of your food ready and prepared after dinner. Make fixing your lunch part of your daily routine. All it takes is five minutes to make a quick sandwich like turkey or peanut butter and jelly on whole wheat bread.

Tip 2: Although homemade meals are preferred, if you don’t have prep-time, keep at home or at work frozen meals, like Kashi or Amy’s brand. They are still more affordable than most work lunches and are portion-controlled. Make sure to choose a meal that’s 350 calories or less and has less than 350mg of sodium.

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