Sometimes that rather limp-looking salad you made before work in a bid to be health-conscious just doesn't cut it when lunch-hour finally comes around and you're feeling ravenous.
It's times like these when the lunch shelves in the supermarket look especially appealing, with their gourmet sandwiches cut into perfect triangles, and enticing 'meal deals' encouraging us to purchase snacks and drinks along with our sandwiches. Sometimes it's far easier to ignore the limp homemade salad in favour of a three-layer shop-bought BLT, or a big crisp salad covered in fresh veg and dressing.
However, studies show that bad lunchtime habits are not only draining our bank accounts, but also adding to our waistlines.
According to a recent survey of 2000 people, the average Brit spends nearly £900 a year on lunchtime wraps, sandwiches, chocolate bars, crisps and drinks, adding 1000 calories to their daily consumption.
Results from the survey, carried out by Philips, revealed that most people buy lunch because they have no time to make their own, or feel uninspired by their own sandwich-making skills.
By making your own lunch, you could cut down your lunchtime calorie intake by at least half. Shop-bought salads and sandwiches tend to be loaded with fattening mayo and other dressings, and meal deals often tempt us to buy fatty snacks we don't really need.
Here are a few simple tips for saving pounds and shedding lbs at lunch...
1. Keep fresh ingredients at work
When you make your sandwiches the night or morning before work, they can quickly become soggy and limp before you have a chance to eat them. If you have a fridge at work, you could buy fresh ingredients at the start of the week and make your sandwiches fresh at lunch.
2. Buy tins
How do you make a salad exciting without splashing out on tasty but expensive trimmings like avocado, prawns and nuts? The answer is down the tin aisle. Supermarkets today stock more than just Heinz beans and spam, now you can get all kinds of tasty beans, fish, vegetables and fruit preserved in tinned form. At less than a pound for at least 4-servings of beans and veg, tinned goods promise to spice up your salads and last all week.
3. Bored of the bland? Try chutneys
The truth is, shop-bought sandwiches always taste better. That's because they tend to be full of flavourings, seasoning and fatty, calorie-laden dressings. So how do you recreate the same potency of flavour in your own kitchen without going overboard with the mayo? We suggest you find alternative condiments, such as pickles, chutneys and pesto sauces. Mayonnaise can contain up to 200 calories per tablespoon, whereas chutney only contains 50. Pesto is strong in flavour so only the tiniest amount spread thinly on bread can spice up any ingredients you choose, from cheese to chicken.
4. Get more exotic with your snacks
Did you really want that packet of crisps, or did you just pick them up out of habit? Many of us buy snacks like crisps and chocolate at lunch merely out of habit. If you're still hungry or craving something sweet, try rounding your lunch off with a healthy yoghurt, or a pot of fruit. These are both surprisingly filling and packed full of nutrients promising to keep you full and energised until dinner. Other 'exotic' snacks include breadsticks with hummus, mixed nuts, dried fruit and wholegrain toast with jam.
To discover more about the benefits of a healthy diet, please visit Nutrition Topics. Alternatively, contact a nutritional professional here.
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