Pack a Lunch Challenge
How’d You Do?
I hope you all did last month’s challenge to Declare Your Independence from Sweetened Beverages! Did you decrease your consumption of sweetened beverages? Anyone go from regular consumption to cutting them out, cold turkey? We want to hear how it went, and what changes you felt as you decreased or completely cut out sweetened beverages from your diet. This month, we’re shifting our focus to lunch.
This Month’s Challenge
This month, our challenge is to pack a lunch every weekday. So no more fast food, vending machines, or takeout! Now, I understand that life gets busy and fast food isn’t all bad, but the point of this challenge is twofold—increasing your health and saving your money.
Why do we care? A 2015 Visa survey found that the average American spends over $1,000 a year eating out at lunch, and that was only for 2 lunches a week! If you do the math, a modest $10 lunch, twice a week ($20) for 52 weeks a year equals $1,040. If you go out more than twice a week, have multiple family members eating out at lunch, and are also going out for breakfast, dinner, and a quick coffee, these little expenses add up quick. In fact, in 2012, 43.1% of food spending was away from home. I’m not a financial advisor, but as a nutritionist, my focus is more on health.
On average, food eaten away from home tends to be higher calories, salt, sugar, and fat, and is generally low in fruits and vegetables. Plus, portion sizes tend to be bigger, so you’re eating less-healthy food, and you’re eating more of it. And although there have been big strides taken in the recent past with restaurants listing calories, providing more fruits and veggies, and offering lite menus, it’s still much healthier (and cheaper) if you just pack a lunch! Of course, don’t pack yourself homemade cookies and a bologna sandwich—that isn’t going to be healthier than getting a whole grain sandwich with a side salad from a restaurant—but if you make a whole grain sandwich and side salad at home, chances are your homemade version will have less calories, salt, and fat. Plus, it’ll cost much less.
Take the Challenge!
So my challenge is to try it for a month. Pack a lunch every weekday and see the difference it can make to your wallet and your health. I often just bring leftover dinner for lunch. We have lots of easy lunch recipes and dinners that make great leftovers, so browse our blog for ideas, or create and share your own! We want to see your ideas, so be sure to share how you’re completing this challenge on social media with #ifitnutritionchat. Can’t wait to see what you’ve got cookin’!
Megan Ostler MS, RDN
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WARNING: This post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. iFit assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article.