Bringing Lunch to Work: Is it Really Healthier?

Eating at our desks while we continue to peck at our keyboards now seems to be the norm. In fact, 65% of Americans say they eat their lunch at their desks according to pollsters from Right Management. But bringing lunch to work … is it really healthier?

Another survey of executives said a surprising 40% brown bag their lunches, and only 17% eat “fast food.” Maybe that was surprising to me … I still assume execs need to meet for power lunches, helping to cement business deals. But maybe even those are waning as everyone, it seems, is trying to do more in less time.

There are two lunch options for the desk. Running out and grabbing something from the local eatery or brown bagging it from home.

The local snatch-and-grab is bound to be less healthier. Even if you order a grilled chicken sandwich, the bread or side of chips could be unhealthy. And if you let the food servers add the salad dressing to your to-go order, it’s likely to be two to three times what you’d pour on yourself.

Bringing lunch from home is apt to be healthier, but there are lots of ways to be not-so-healthy.

  • Bringing in protein or granola bars that are high in sugar and/or unhealthy fats
  • Bringing in frozen dinners that are likely to be high in salt, fats, and/or sugars
  • Bringing in pre-packaged foods, like crackers or other snack foods, that will torpedo your diet

Of course, bringing a healthy lunch from home is actually easy … It just requires a touch of advanced planning. Here are some ideas:

  • Cook extra for dinner the night before and enjoy the leftovers the following day.
  • Batch cook over the weekend; this can be particularly good for healthy snacks for your desk … but can also allow for prepping lunch items that you can just grab and go on busy weekday mornings
  • Nuts … probably one of the easiest, healthiest snacks you can have. Just remember that nuts are high in calories, so don’t start stuffing handful after handful into your mouth at your desk.
  • Buy portion controlled containers. Placing food in the right-sized containers makes it impossible to overeat because you’ll already have the right amount.
  • Find healthy frozen food options. Hey, life happens and rushing out the door without time to prepare a brown bag lunch is inevitable.  Pick a few healthy frozen entree options and have them on hand in case of emergency.

What are your go-to lunch staples for work? What about healthy snacks for work? We’d love to hear your ideas … even if it’s as simple as a PB & J. Mine are homemade granola bars made with just a touch of maple syrup for sweetness, fruit that can survive a week hanging out on my desk, and using dinner leftovers as lunch the next day.