It's no secret that food is the way to my heart (just ask K). So it's no surprise that I've already posted on eating etiquette and breakfast options. Today's topic is one close to my heart: lunch.
I love lunch not only because of the food options, but also because of the social aspect. If you ask me to lunch, I'll probably accept (hint hint, Sacto folks). It's just a great mental break to the workday and, if you're a cubicle dweller like me, gets you out of the office. On days I bring my lunch, it's not uncommon for me to spend all nine hours (eight hours of work + one hour of lunch) inside the building. Sure, I have a window, but it's just not the same as the fresh air and vitamin D. Balance is key.
Hoofing it over to your fave restaurant is a great way to take a break, but constant eating out can stretch your wallet and your waistline. I'm lucky enough to have a coffee shop in my building (which I count as "eating out" since I didn't bring it in), so I can sometimes end up buying lunch up to 4 times a week. A few tips for counting the calories (and your spare change).
- Eat half and stash half in the work fridge for tomorrow. It's like eating out twice!
- Split a meal with a friend. Oftentimes a full plate can give me food coma, but half is perfect size to avoid feeling gross for the rest of the day.
- Buy half, bring half. Sometimes I'll go a little hybrid. If I have a small serving of pasta (or something else super-starchy), I'll swing by the coffee shop and pick up a small house salad for $3 (hold the dressing). It's perfect for filling the void in a small lunch and getting my veggies in.
- A salad isn't always healthier. Especially if you're eating only half, a regular meal can be just as few calories as a salad. Unless it's a salad with creamy dressing and cheese, in which case it's probably just as bad, if not worse, than non-salad.
Bringing your own lunch is a more economical way to eat, and can sometimes be healthier. I have to admit--I'm a bit of a sandwich snob (meaning I like mine freshly made, usually heated, with ingredients I don't keep at home), and I don't cook as often as I'd like to, so brown-bagging it isn't as easy for me to adopt. Here is how I've managed:
- Frozen dinners. Sure, some taste like cardboard. Many aren't even all that healthy. Try them out and find one you like. I recently discovered these and I'm in love. (I've previously been really into these and these.)
- Leftovers. Whether they're leftovers from lunch the day before or from a dinner out, it's usually relatively easy to make a purchased meal last two sittings.
- Overcook. If you (or your roommate or partner) is down to cook, make more than you know you can eat. In our household of two, I often cook the full recipe that serves four and pack the extra servings away for lunch the next day (or a few days later--I'm not picky).
Do you typically eat out or bring your own lunch? What tips do you have for lessening the impact on your wallet and waistline?