The truth of it is eating unhealthy food is expensive! If you spend just $3 per day, 5 days a week, thats $60 per month or $720 per year! It is probably safe to assume most of us could, and some probably do spend more than that too.
There is no reason why, with the following tips, you cannot construct a cheap healthy lunch that will improve your health, save you money, save you time, help you manage your weight and even taste great!
- Prepare everything ahead of time. This might seem like an obvious one but not many people do it. It is best to prepare your meals the night before. This way when you get up in the morning, your meals are ready to go when you are. Most things keep in the fridge for a few days. It might seem like effort in the short term to come home and prepare your lunch for the next day, however in the long run it’ll save you time and money.
- Use protein as your base. All food has a thermic-effect with protein having the highest at approx. 30%. This means when you eat protein it will raise your metabolism by up to 30%. Keeping your metabolism stoked during the day will help you burn unwanted bodyfat and keep you alert. Protein also has the added benefit of keeping you fuller for longer so helping to avoid trips to the vending machine! Good choices for lunch include chicken, tuna, salmon, beef, pork or any other meat/substitute.
- Use fat as your filler. Despite how the media portray dietary fat it is actually neccessary to sustain life. Without it you would almost certainly become deficient in the fat soluble vitamins (such as D and E), which could cause problems. Like protein, fat will keep you fuller for longer, but will also help you burn more fat by keeping insulin levels low. When insulin is kept low your body will burn primarily fat for energy – this is reversed by consuming carbohydrates. Good choices for healthy fats include nuts, seeds, organic peanut butter, olive/macademia nut oil, avocado, salmon etc.
- Carbs are not important. Not breaking news for fans of atkins, but surprisingly alot of people still over consume carbohydrates (bread, pasta, rice etc) whilst having relatively inactive jobs. Unless you are a builder, footballer or in some other very physically active role, carbohydrates aren’t all that important. They simply provide energy, unlike fat that provides energy and vitamins. So if you dont lead a very active lifestyle but are consuming lots of carbohydrates, you will be storing this ‘energy’ as bodyfat. Have your high fiber carbohydrates for breakfast and forgoe them at lunch or atleast have a smaller amount.
- Add some flavour! Most people who are trying to eat healthy assume that food cannot taste nice. The truth is anything you can use that will make it taste better is a winner. So for meat things like chilli powder, herbs, cinnamon, bbq seasoning etc. If you have a sweet tooth pack some sugar free jelly to get your kick, or even better, pack some fruit such as apples, oranges or strawberries.
So there you have it – the secrets to a cheap healthy lunch! If you’ve ever wondered how the celebs, fitness models or bodybuilders keep to their healthy eating plans (I hate the word diet!) with their busy schedules, now you know!
The great thing with these tips is that you dont need to count calories or weigh anything to see huge results. Simply take whatever your doing now, apply these 5 tips to save money, time, improve your health and manage your weight.