Do you eat at your desk or are you at home? How about lunch out with friends? Do you ever resort to fast food because you are hungry and short on time? We can learn how to plan our lunch to keep within our calorie goals and still have delicious food with great nutritional value. What we need are convenient, easy to pack items that are low calorie to allow us to have some little extras if we can fit them in. They should be good for work or at home.
First some tips no matter where you have lunch. Keep lunchtime in mind when you go to the grocery store. Resist the temptation to buy already prepared food because it's usually high in sodium or sugar, and is likely to contain more calories from fat than you would expect. Instead, look for lean, low sodium deli meats such as turkey or chicken breast and lean roast beef. Lower fat and lower salt sliced cheeses are also available. Don't be afraid to ask for help making a good choice.
In the produce department make sure you get a piece of fruit and a vegetable for each day's lunch. If you are eating at work, keep it simple. You may want salad greens, especially the darker green kinds. Tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers are good additions to salads.
Next, you need a whole grain such as a wrap or tortilla to make roll-ups. There are a number of flat-breads available so read those labels and choose carefully. If you want bread, get 100% whole grain.
If you prefer a hot meal, try some soup or stew. Either make it yourself or buy one of the healthier brands. Again, read those labels. Another option is to cook extra for dinner the night before and put a lunch size portion in the refrigerator. For instance, chili can be a good choice if made with ground turkey breast and no fat added. Make a big batch and freeze lunch size portions in microwave safe containers.
Planning and preparing ahead is the key to success. Try to assemble your lunch the night before if you can. If you carry your lunch to work, invest in some freezer packs. Put one in your insulated lunch bag just before leaving for work to keep everything cold and fresh without refrigeration. If you eat at home, have your food partially ready so you can fix lunch easily. It really helps if you have a game plan and know what you're going to have.
We've chosen recipes by Calorie Count members for sandwiches, salads and soups that are low enough in calories that you can have that piece of fruit and vegetables with them for a more filling meal.
- Action Packed Vegetable Soup: Serving size - 315 grams or 11 ounces, 80 Calories.
- Turkey Roll Up: Each roll is 68 grams, 2.5 ounces approximately. 58 calories.
- White Bean and Pepper Stew: Serving size - 443 grams, 16 ounces, 287 calories. The huge serving size allows you to cut the portion.
- Mediterranean Tuna Salad: Serving size - 138 grams, 5 ounces, 152 calories
- Veggie Tortilla Wrap with Salsa: Each wrap is 114 grams, 4 ounces, 186 calories.