Lunch Strategies for Work

If you've read "Fun and Filling Lunches To-Go" then you already have some great ideas for packing a healthy, filling, and tasty lunch. But some days, packing your own meal isn't an option. When you're not able to brown-bag it, don’t let that excuse derail your healthy diet! Instead, make smart choices:
  • If your only option is fast food, pick a broiled chicken breast sandwich, but skip the high-fat sauces. Or, try the salad bar, but keep portions of dressing, cheese, and high-fat meats (like pepperoni) under control. Limit mayonnaise salads, including coleslaw, potato, egg and chicken salads. Beware of all-you-can-eat “deals” that will sabotage your hard-won healthy choices.
  • For appetizers, avoid the crispy, creamy, and cheesy, and go for to broth-based soups or fresh fruit cups. Better yet, pick a healthy appetizer (a thin-crust veggie pizza, for example) as your entrée.
  • In choosing an entrée, look for keywords: grilled, steamed, poached, and broiled. Order with special instructions such as light on the sauces or butter, sauce on the side (so you can control the portions), or simply no sauce. "Cajun" or "blackened" items usually make good choices, because they are spicy, but low in fat.
  • Keep portion sizes realistic. You may even find it helpful to ask for a to-go box with your order so that you can divide your food immediately after it comes, thus avoiding the temptation to continue nibbling after you’re really full.
  • Try to avoid  vending machines. If it’s your only option (or you’re just tempted beyond belief), choose the healthier items: wheat crackers, pretzels, yogurt, string cheese, or dried fruit. If there are no healthy choices—take the initiative! Survey your fellow workers, then submit a respectful request that machines include at least a few healthy items.
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Member Comments

Thanks Report
thank you Report
When I was working in the Friday special in the cafeteria with clam chowder in a bowl the rest of the week I planned very carefully for lunches and snacks while at work didn’t eat as much of that bread by Friday didn’t have all of the clam chowder Report
I stick to easy simple and healthful Report
I usually packed my own lunch Report
Good info Report
good advice Report
I mostly packed my lunch when working w/ either leftovers or soup & sandwich. Cafe had a salad bar & hot entrees but not great
Prefer to grab a burger out at BK. Whopper Jr not too bad. Or Star burger from Carl's Jr.
Now retired we eat out once a day, late lunch. I like to cook but hubby prefers the social interaction. That's okay, I manage. We hit Denny's or a local place for soup or fish often. Report
Thanks for the great article! Report
I'm glad I have a plan B when for whatever reason I haven't packed a lunch. In addition to a gym, my workplace also has a cafeteria. My best cheap healthy lunch costs me $1.25. I buy one hardboiled egg and a side salad. I take it back to my workspace and add some unsalted mixed nuts and a capful of vinegar. On days when I order a meal, you can get an entree, 2 sides, and drink for $4.00. On Wednesdays, they have big specialty salads for $4.00. Can't beat the prices. Report
.. Report
Good reminders. Some useful strategies here. Report
Consider the nutritional consequences before putting anything in your mouth Report


About The Author

Rebecca Pratt
Rebecca Pratt
A freelance writer who contributes to various newspapers and magazines, Becky loves covering ordinary people doing extraordinary things.