How to Pack a Healthy Lunch

Bag Lunch
The right portion size is key to packing a healthy lunch. See more lunch box pictures.

You can control breakfast, and you can control dinner -- after all, you make them -- but what about lunch? The choices end up being standing in the fast food lines, eating out of the vending machine, or settling for another "round meat and white bread" sandwich that you slammed into a bag as you raced out the door. None sounds very appealing, does it?

To avoid a heart attack in the making or having to face that same old sandwich one more day, here's a quick-fix course in lunch-hour basics for healthier "dining a la desk". In addition to choosing foods ahead of time that fit into your individualized meal plan, you also can have much more control over your portion sizes.


Beware of Overload

When shopping at the grocery store for lunch items, purchase processed foods and prepackaged products sparingly. Those items are the easiest way to overload on carbs, preservatives, sugar and sodium.

Does It Say 100 Percent?

Buy 100 percent fruit juice boxes and be sure they say 100 percent juice, not just 10 percent. (The other 90 percent is sugar.) Pop them in the freezer, then put a box in a small plastic baggie when packing your lunch. It's a great way to keep other items in the bag cold until lunchtime.

The Big Gulp

Extend that 6-ounce juice box into an 18-ounce drink without going into carb or sugar overload. Pick a diet soda, lemon-lime, or gingerale, or a bottle of sparking water along with the juicebox, then combine them at lunch for a refreshing spritzer that's low in carbs and sugar.

Don't Forget the Finger Foods

Toss in a baggie full of seedless grapes and/or sweet grape cherry tomatoes. Baby carrots are nice too.

Fruit Flavors

When toting oranges, bananas or even apples, seal them in a small plastic baggie. if you don't, the flavors of the fruits can permeate the rest of the items in your bag, making everything take on the flavor of "the fruit of the day."

Avoid the Fat Packs

Variety packs of snack chips typically are high in fat and sodium. Instead, buy family-sized bags of potato chips and tortilla chips that are baked rather than fried; pack them up in individual baggies in appropriate portion sizes for your individual meal plan seal tightly, and store in the pantry ahead of time. When you need one simply grab and go.

Best-Kept Secret

When toting a salad, place the salad in a large plastic baggie with the dressing sealed in a sandwich-sized baggie, placing the small bag in the larger one. At lunchtime, pour the dressing over the salad in the larger bag, seal tightly, and shake. No soggy salad, no messy cleanup, and no containers to tote back and forth between home and work!


Lots More Information

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