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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Lunch at Our Desks

I read an interesting article this weekend in the current issue of Every Day with Rachel Ray.  The article is called "What America Eats: The Lunch Edition". It discusses how half of Americans eat at their desks, but according to the magazine's polls one in two respondents eat homemade lunches every weekday, and the amount of women carrying in their own lunch has spiked 33 percent in 10 years. I would say that their polls are probably not that accurate because only a person who is already interested in food will buy a food magazine, but I think the sentiment is important to promote. The article mentions a shift in recent years from people thinking things are healthy simply because they are low in calories or low fat, to them actually becoming focused on the nutrients in healthy ingredients. The magazine polled readers and interviewed industry experts, and learned that respondents are bringing in more frequently fresh fruit, salads, and that men in particular are more likely in recent years to bring in their own sandwiches.

I think these are great trends. I think a lot of the salads she mentions in this article are really interesting, especially ones with ingredients that maintain their crunchiness throughout the morning. I previously discussed a crunchy type of salad I made which held up well for leftovers, and after reading this article I started thinking about healthy options for lunches that weren't just leftovers. One idea sounded really tasty: chopped salad with raw broccoli, ramen noodles, toasted almonds, and homemade vinaigrette.

According to the article, Men bring a sandwich about 47 percent of the time. Wheat is growing as the main choice for bread up from 34% of people who had it on hand 30 years ago to 77% now. Many healthier and more exotic condiments are also growing in popularity like chutneys. This sandwich mentioned in the article sounds really good and nutritious, it contains:  fresh turkey breast, seedy three grain bread, apple butter, mayo, sliced green apples and brie.

According to the article, 2 out of 3 American households plan dinners specifically with leftovers in mind. 80 percent of readers say they eat leftovers in order to save money. Women are more likely than men to take leftovers to work, and will sometimes cook meals large enough to last several days. Readers point out that they feel healthier when bringing food from home, and can be more aware which ingredients they are consuming.

I really enjoyed this article because I think it connects to a few more important issues. One is that it is important to not waste any ingredients you have, and I feel that if you cook all your ingredients and have extra for dinner, but eat it throughout the week that is better than your produce going bad. Also, it is usually not much more expensive at all to create a couple extra portions of a dish, but you can easily get a lunch from a restaurant that is $10 and not even that tasty. Another issue is portion control, you are measuring your lunch out in advance, and not after working all morning so you are more likely to have a reasonable portion than if you sat down at the Indian buffet and ate as much as you felt like. Another issue I agree with was mentioned by one of the readers - if you totally make something from scratch you are just not going to add the food coloring, preservatives, extra chemicals that some place like Subway might add. You know what you are eating, and I think that is important.

A healthy, homemade lunch option combined with a good walk I think is a lot better than working through lunch and not eating, checking out facebook while eating your fast food sandwich, or sitting through a work meeting and calling it lunch. I think it is very important to take time out during one's work day, and also to actually bring something nutritious. I am inspired by the salad lunch ideas in this article, and look forward to finding some refreshing summer options.

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