If you’re like me and work outside the home and are fortunate enough to have an office with a kitchen area, then you have a great resource to keep your energy and metabolism up during the day, keep unhealthy snacking to a minimum and save money by having not having to purchase your afternoon meal.
Bringing lunch is one option. A lot of us pack a sandwich, salad or leftovers from last night’s dinner in a Tupperware for our lunch the next day. But think about it – we’re (well, I am at least!) at the office 8-9 hours a day. And during stressful, busy times of the year ( much like I have) you’re going to need more than just a sandwich or a salad to fuel your body, keep your mind sharp and your metabolism revving all day, especially if you’re sitting for a good majority of it.
My hours are 8-5 with an hour for lunch. I’m sure there are a lot of those who work these hours that start the day off with skipping breakfast because it’s just too early to eat ‘before’ leaving for work, figuring you’ll just ‘grab something’ on the way. That ‘something’ can usually turn out to be a bagel, a donut, pre-fabbed egg and cheese sandwich or – worst of all – nothing at all.
Let’s nip that in the bud.
Again, a lot of the items on this list would require refrigeration and cabinet storage. If your work environment does not allow for this, you can store items in your desk or may have to improvise by toting refrigerated items in a small cooler. Yes, that defeats the purpose of having to store these items at the office so you don’t have to remember to bring them everyday, but I’m just offering up options if you don’t have the luxury of a full office kitchen.
Okay, here’s the list of items I keep at the office:
- Peanut butter
- Plain, lowfat yogurt
- Cottage cheese
- Frozen, whole grain waffles
- Whole grain tortilla chips
- Whole grain bread
- High protein cold cereal (such as Kashi)
- Skim/soy milk
- Jar of salsa
- String cheese (part skim)
- Unsalted nuts
- Canned tuna (water packed) or chicken breast
- Fresh fruit (especially berries)
- Green tea
- Hard boiled eggs
- Olive oil/balsamic vinegar
- Agave nectar
Okay, I’m going to stop right here and show you how to work with these. Some of these items such as the tea, nuts, peanut butter, chips and cereal you could keep in your desk drawer, depending upon the size of the product (and the size of your drawer!). Everything else either has to be refrigerated or frozen. If your office has a full-sized refrigerator (like mine does), I usually store my items in one of the pull-out drawers. Right now, I’m the only one in the office, but there was a time when we had 5 people in there at once who brought breakfast and lunch items, so room wasn’t an issue. Again, you’ll have to adjust based upon the size of the storage you have to work with.
First off – I bring my lunch to work. Every day. I don’t want to spend $5 – $6 on a sandwich, salad, Chinese, etc. Some people spend that on a cup of coffee alone (depending upon all the bells and whistles you add to it) We have Keurig at the office and K-cups. I keep a small quart of fat-free half and half and Splenda/Equal there so there’s no need to even buy coffee. Think about it – if you buy coffee every morning and lunch every afternoon that’s almost $10/day – $50/week! One of the ladies in the office was buying lunch with her debit card every day until she looked at her bank statement one month, added all her lunches up and it came to almost $100! $1,200/year! That’s insane!
But I digress…..
If you bring your lunch, then with the above mentioned items you’re pretty much set to make a quick breakfast upon arrival (considering you don’t work in a stringent atmosphere where you are not allowed to eat at your desk). Breakfast possibilities are:
- A bowl of cereal with skim/soy milk
- A frozen waffle (again, providing your office kitchen has a toaster – we have a toaster oven) spread with a tbsp. of peanut butter
- A couple of hard-boiled eggs and a slice of whole grain toast
- Cottage cheese with mixed berries
Now when that late-morning window (around 11am-ish) rolls around where it’s been several hours since breakfast, but too early for lunch, you need to fortify your body with a snack to keep your energy up, your mind sharp and your metabolism revved. Right at your fingertips you have:
- Whole grain chips with salsa
- Celery sticks spread with peanut butter
- Mixed nuts and fruit (watch your portions – no more than a small, handful of nuts)
Okay, onto lunch (that you’ve brought, of course. Depending upon how long of a lunch break you have, try to NOT eat at your desk. Take your lunch and go out (especially if the weather is nice) We have a picnic table on our premises which breaks up being in the office. Or take your lunch, get in your car and drive to a nearby park, beach, store, etc. Take your time eating, but don’t spend your entire lunch sitting in your car or on a bench. Walk, stretch your legs, take deep breaths of fresh air and clear your mind and prep yourself to go back to work.
Okay, so we’re back to work 😦 If you take your lunch betwen 12:30 – 1:00pm and work until 5pm, then you know that around 3:30pm is the hunger-witching hour. Getting through that last hour and a half can seem like an entire work day. This is the time a lot of people may head out for a coffee and maybe even something to go with it. Don’t!
Have a healthy, afternoon snack instead to help you sail to quitting time without hunger or snacks loaded with sugar and fat.
- String cheese with orange slices
- Tuna/chicken mixed with avacado and vinegar with tortilla chips
- Apple spread with peanut butter
- Plain yogurt with berries
Again, I can’t stress enough about portion control. Use your judgement.
I’m sure there are more items you can add to this list and different combinations of snacks you can make. The whole idea is to pre-plan so that you’re not scrambling at the 11th hour while running out the door to work. Having these items on hand will give you convenience, save you from unnecessary spending during the work day, save you calories and do your body and mind good. Happy, healthy, satisfied workers are good workers!
Till next time.