What do I have for lunch? If you work outside the home, you find yourself asking that very question every single week day. Although it’s much easier to go out everyday for lunch, this strategy presents some serious pitfalls. How about chicken salad for your next brown-bag lunch?
For one, it’s really expensive to eat out everyday. Time.com Business ran an interesting article a few years back. I knew eating out was expensive, but I don’t think I realized just how how large the annual expenditure can be.
In her book What Are You Doing for Lunch, author Mona Meighan tries to talk sense into the lunch-out crowd, playing up not only the high cost of eating out but the poor nutrition as well. She says brown bagging can cut your weekly lunch cost by 80% and makes it easy to stay away from things like pizza and cheeseburgers.
Meighan is by no means the first to calculate the costs of eating lunch out. A [Canadian survey] found that 60% eat lunch out at least once a week and spend $7 to $13 each time. But many of those eat out at least three times a week, and at the $10 midpoint spend $1,500 a year. Those who eat out every workday spend $2,500 a year.
No doubt a lot of us could think of some excellent ways to use that money. Just think of the vacation you could have with an extra $2500! But, a healthy lunch takes preparation. Often, we don’t feel very motivated to put a great deal of thought into our lunch when we are rushing to get ready for work in the morning.
Another real problem with dining out everyday is the added calories in restaurant meals. It’s one thing to eat out once or twice a week for entertainment. Yet, it’s a whole new story when you are talking about eating out every day of the week. Unlike meals prepared at home, you can’t always know the contents of a restaurant meal. Public Health Nutrition ran a survey to determine how eating out affects overall calorie intake.
Researchers analyzed data from over 12,000 people aged 20 to 64 who were asked about their eating habits on two separate days. The data was collected by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
Around 30% of the study participants ate at a fast food establishment on both days. On day one, 28% of participants ate at a full-service restaurant; 20% ate at a restaurant on day two. The rest of the participants ate at home.
People who ate at a fast food or full-service restaurants consumed an extra 200 calories per day on average than people who ate at home, the study authors say. These extra calories made up about 10% of their total daily intake.
So, there we have two very good reasons to consider brown-bagging your lunch on most work days. However, what about the monotony of eating the same thing everyday? Yes, this can be a problem. It is always preferable to pack a lunch that you actually enjoy.
What’s more, you need to make sure that the lunch you pack actually has enough umph to get you through the day. I have looked at some co-workers’ lunches before and thought, their salad wouldn’t be enough to get me through the next hour, let alone the rest of the work day.
How about chicken salad for your next brown-bag lunch? Here is one of my favorite lunch recipes. It’s packed with flavor, instead of fat and calories. Also, I recommend that you eat it with a slice of cheddar cheese. Although the cheese has a high fat content, it also has a good dose of protein, which will help satisfy your hunger longer. Moreover, you can afford the extra fat and calories if you pass on the chips and candy bar as side dishes.
Guilt-Free, Flavor-Rich Chicken Salad
1 Can Cooked Chicken (I used Kirkland brand) or 2 minced chicken breasts (cooked)
1 T. Kraft Olive Oil Mayo
1/4 c. plain yogurt
1/4 c. dried cranberries
pickled banana peppers (add more or less depending on your tastes
Optional: chopped pecans
Mix all of the ingredients together. Add salt and pepper to taste. The salad tastes even better after it sits in the refrigerator over night.
Serve on the bread of your choice with a nice slice of cheese. Yummy!
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