Your mid-day meal doesn’t have to cost you your health—or cost you a fortune. And brown bagging doesn’t have to be boring, either. Find out how you can brown bag with ease, avoiding the consequences of too many calories, and too much fat.
Mid-day meals are a pricey proposition for the quarter of our population who eats out for lunch everyday during the workweek. And not only is eating out hard on the pocket book, it’s hard on our health as well. But by brown-bagging your weekday lunches, you can save yourself hundreds of calories and dollars in a single year.
To a lot of people, brown-bagging sounds like too much work for a run-of-the-mill-meal. But believe it nor not, it’s not that much work, and, because you have more control over the menu, brown-bagging allows you to kick your mid-day meal up a notch. This brochure is power-packed with information that will help you brown-bag for the health of it.
Source: National Restaurant Association
To some, bringing a brown bag lunch to work may not seem like the most exciting thing to do. Just the term “brown bag” can sound a little boring. But when you consider the benefits brown bagging brings, the prospect of packing your own lunch quickly becomes more appetizing. Check out these benefits of brown bagging and get to packin’.
Benefit #1: Brown Bagging is Healthier
Have you ever wondered what’s actually in a typical fast food burger and fries? The answer is a lot—a lot of calories, and tons of fat. Consider this. A double Whopper with cheese, king size fry and king size coke at Burger King rings in at almost 2,100 calories and 100 grams of fat. That’s all your calories and more than your share of fat for the day in just one meal! Conversely, a home packed turkey sandwich on wheat bread with baked potato chips and a diet soda totals about 500 calories and about six grams of fat.
Anyway you slice it, packing a moderately healthy lunch from home will almost always beat the fast food competition hands down when it comes to nutrition.
Benefit #2: Brown Bag And Get More Done
When you consider travel time—and the time it takes to get your food once you get seated—going out to lunch each day can take too much time. By packing your lunch and eating at your desk, you’ll be able to catch up on email, return voice mail messages, and sew up all the loose ends that accumulate during the week. Don’t feel like working through lunch? Take some time for yourself by reading a book, surfing the day’s headlines, or just daydreaming at your desk.Plain and simple, if you’re not rushing to make it to a restaurant during your lunch hour, you’ll have much more time to concentrate on more important things.
Benefit #3: You’ll Save Big Bucks
Here’s a newsflash, eating out is expensive! Have you ever really considered how much you spend on eating out for lunch? The calculation is pretty simple. Take an average meal price of seven dollars and multiply it by 20 (the approximate number of working days in a month). That’s $140 a month, and almost $1,700 per year. That’s enough money to buy two round trip plane tickets to Europe or lease a brand new economy car. When you sit back and consider it, that’s a lot of money to save just by packing a lunch to work.
There’s no doubt that brown-bagging your lunch requires a little more effort than hitting a local drive through, or standing in line at the company cafeteria. But as we’ve seen, brown bagging—because it’s cheaper and healthier—pays big dividends in the long run. Given the extra effort required, the following tips can help you brown bag it better.
Tired of the same old Turkey on Rye with baked chips and water? Well, if you’ve been brown bagging like this for any length and time, it’s easy to see why. Not only does brown bagging allow you to eat healthier and save money, but it also allows you to get a lot more creative with your mid-day meal. Check out these ideas to kick your brown bag up a notch
Leftovers, especially if they’re healthy, can make your midday meal—literally. When preparing your dinners in the evening, try planning ahead and making an extra chicken breast or serving of seafood that you can pack for lunch sometime that week. There’s no reason you should have to settle for the typical sandwich when it comes to your brown bag lunch. Have fun and be creative.
Think Outside the Bun
Especially if you’ve settled on wonder bread, trying thinking outside the bun. Choose lower-fat, high-fiber breads such as whole wheat, or a tasty multi-grain or whole-wheat pita. Not only will you find a whole new world of taste with these breads, you’ll be getting a whole host of nutrients important to a nutritious diet.
See the Green
Most people forget about salads when it comes to brown bagging. And by being creative with your greens, you can create a healthy masterpiece that’ll make your colleague envious. One thing to watch out for, however, is those creamy salad dressings that add fat and calories along with their flavor. Try using reduced fat dressings or take some of the fat out of your current dressings by using mild vinegar such as balsamic or rice wine, or combine wine vinegar with fruit juice or stock.
Soups can make for a tantalizing lunch with low calories, but plenty of punch. There are literally thousands of soup ideas floating around, and they’re a great way to use your leftovers. Don’t have access to a microwave? Don’t worry. Heat your soups before heading off to work and use a thermos instead of your brown bag.
Trash the Brown Bag
Using and tossing those brown bags is just another expense you can do with out. Invest in a thermal lined lunch bag. Using it with a small ice pack at the bottom of your bag will keep your food colder and safer, for longer period of time.
The suggestions here are included to help take some of the work out of packing a healthy, yet exciting lunch each day. Each of the lunches shown here contains 500 to 700 calories and less than 15 grams of fat. Use them to plan your menu in the days ahead and give your favorites a regular rotation on your lunch schedule.
Menu # 1
Menu # 2
Menu # 3
Menu # 5
Menu # 6
Menu # 7
Fast Food vs. Brown Bag
Take a look at how these fast food challengers match up against healthier, brown bag champions.
Fast Food Challenger
Double Whopper with cheeseKing size friesKing size sodaCalories 2,090, Fat: 100 grams
Healthy Brown Bag Champ
Turkey sandwich on whole wheat breadSmall bag baked potato chipsOne, 12-ounce diet sodaCalories 550, Fat: 10 grams
KFC “Twister” sandwichMashed potatoes with gravyBiscuitSlice of apple pieCalories 1,250, Fat: 61 grams
Steamed chicken breast on a bed of lettuce (low-fat dressing)One medium appleSmall chocolate chip cookieLarge glass of iced teaCalories 570, Fat: 9 grams
It’s a knock out every time—the healthy brown-bag champ is always the winner.
US Department of Agriculturewww.usda.govAmerican Dietetic Associationwww.eatright.org
National Institutes of Healthwww.nih.gov
A PUBLICATION OF THEWellness Councils of America9802 Nicholas Street, Suite 315Omaha, NE 68114-2106Phone: (402) 827-3590Fax: (402) 827-3594www.welcoa.org
©2006 Wellness Councils of AmericaThe information contained in this brochure has been carefully reviewed for accuracy It is not intended to replace the advice of your physician or health care provider.
An Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.