Who has time to eat? 5 tips for eating healthy on a budget

A healthy lunch from home not only saves money, but saves time so you can get to what you really care about.

eating healthy on a budget

In fact, according to a recent survey by administrative staffing company OfficeTeam, Canadians aren’t spending as much time eating during their lunch breaks as they are getting into their personal business. The study, based on interviews with more than 275 Canadians aged 18 and up currently employed in an office setting, asked what activities – in addition to eating – were a regular part of their lunch break.

While 43 percent said they surfed the Web and checked social media and 33 percent said they caught up with personal calls and emails, 41 percent chose to socialize with coworkers and take their eyes off the screen for a while. Meanwhile, 32 percent said they worked through their break, and 31 percent chose to exercise or take a walk.

When asked the average length of their lunch break, nearly half of respondents said 31-60 minutes, 34 percent said 30 minutes, 17 percent said less than 30 minutes, and a lucky 3 percent said more than 60 minutes.

“Food accounts for more than 10 percent of household budgets, even more so in situations where times are tight. Eating at local restaurants or grabbing a take-out lunch can quickly add up.” Says Jeff Schwartz, executive director of Consolidated Credit Counselling Services of Canada, Inc. “Obviously, being able to find ways to get all the nutritious benefits of healthy meals while not breaking the bank can be imperative to getting one’s finances under control.”

Grabbing a quick bite from the local coffee shop eats away at the time we can be doing things we like – never mind the damage it does to our wallets.

While it’s tempting to grab a quick taco salad or ham sandwich, it adds up fast. Your budget will thank you for bringing your own lunch (and so will your health).

Below are 5 tips for eating healthy on a budget:

  1. Drink water. Whether bringing lunch from home or dining out, water is free-and critical to your well-being. Ordering drinks from a restaurant can run you upwards of $4. Add a lime if you’re the “water is boring” type
  2. If you insist on eating out, order from the lunch menu. The portions are often of comparable size to your usual order but come at a fraction of the price.
  3. Order from the kid’s menu. You might also be able to bring an affordable little toy or trinket to your wee ones.
  4. Bring leftovers. Make extra food at dinnertime and have the makings of a delicious lunch ready to go for the next day.
  5. Brownbag it. Even if not leftovers, whenever possible make your lunch at home. It’s infinitely cheaper, but it also puts you better in control of what you put in your body.

Doing these things will not only improve your work – hungry workers aren’t nearly as productive as nourished ones – but help keep your budget under control while living a fuller, healthier life.

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Shivani Karwal
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