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Tired of the same old packed lunch?

If you're tired of eating peanut butter sandwiches and spending a fortune on lunches, we take a look at some healthy and creative lunch options. Taking the time to prepare and pack a healthy lunch is one of the many ways to trim your budget - and your waistline. While buying lunch may only cost around R20 per day - add that up over the course of a month or year - and the cost really adds up to quite a bit.

 

But more than saving money, a home made packed lunch is far healthier than bought meals. With most bought lunches we're often faced with large portions and fattening extras - like the french fries that routinely come with sandwiches. But when you pack lunch at home, you can control your portions and choose healthier ingredients.

Ask any dietician worth his or her salt and they will tell you that the secret to a healthy packed lunch is to prepare balanced portions. A combination of low-fat protein and fibre from vegetables and/or fruit will provide the essential fuel your body needs to see you through the rest of the day and will also keep you feeling full until dinner.

Click here for a selection of lunchbox recipes.

Plain or fancy

If you love sandwiches, use a variety of whole-grain breads, pitas, and wraps. Choose lean fillings like shredded tuna, cheese or lean meats such as turkey and grilled chicken. Then jazz up your sandwiches with assorted greens, fresh basil, sprouts, sliced cucumbers, onions, and tomatoes.

Prepare in advance and refrigerate

In our hot climate foods can easily spoil, especially those that include meat, fish, poultry, or dairy, so refrigerate at home if you prepare the night before, and toss in the refrigerator at work. If you don't have access to refrigeration, invest in a lunchbox, Thermos, reusable plastic containers, plastic baggies, and ice packs to keep your lunch at the proper temperature.

Take a break

While many like to make excuses that there's no time for lunch - make the time. By packing your own lunch and not rushing to get to the local deli during your lunch hour, you’ll have much more time to catch up on emails and a few loose ends. And don't sit in front of your computer, sandwich in hand, and try to rush lunch. Savour and enjoy what you eat you will feel far more satisfied and your body with thank you for it.

Plan ahead

Plan your weekly menu in advance so that you have all the essentials you need. If you don't, you might be tempted to use that as an excuse to eat out or grab something convenient as an alternative. While you may be able to buy ready-prepared healthy foods they are expensive. If the planning, preparing and packing sounds like a hassle, focus on how much healthier (and wealthier) you'll be for doing it.

Leftovers for lunch

When you're deciding what to cook for dinner, think about how you might incorporate leftovers into a lunch for the following day. Make a few extra servings for dinner and set them aside for the next day's lunch.

Last night's tikka chicken so easily becomes a wrap with chicken and salad.