GREENSBORO, NC -- Southerners typically love their comfort foods. But it turns out not only do we love to eat, we also love to eat out for lunch! A new survey from Visa says southerners spend an average of $20 a week eating out for lunch. So Geissler Baker from the North Carolina Cooperative Extension showed us some cheap, grown up, brown bag lunch options.
Baker said, "The first thing I say about brown bagging is it saves a lot of money and it also saves your waistline." She offered suggestions for three things people can do to make brown bag lunches work for them.
USE YOUR LEFTOVERS
Baker said, "Everybody has leftovers, so use them. On Sunday night, when we finish dinner, I go ahead and pack two or three leftover plates." Baker suggested using containers that have sections to help control portion size. She said a balanced lunch should have three ounces of meat, half a cup of grain, and a half a cup of vegetables.
She said examples of left overs that are easy to make for lunch include: black beans and rice, soup, and lasagna or spaghetti. She said it's easy to portion servings out and freeze them for lunch. "Put it in the freezer containers and stick them in the freezer. You can pull one out every time you need one for lunch."
NO MICROWAVE, NO PROBLEM
Baker said if you don't have a microwave at work and you need to do cold lunch, you should think about what's already in your refrigerator. She said salad is an option, if you have an ice pack to keep it cool. She also suggested making several sandwiches and freezing them. "Freeze your sandwiches, that's right, don't put the lettuce or tomato on it yet. But you can make 2 or 3 sandwiches and freeze them ahead of time, you can even freeze peanut butter and jelly." She said you can make your lunch healthy by using different types of bread, preferably whole grain. Baker suggested naan, whole grain sandwich rolls, whole wheat tortillas, whole grain crackers, and whole grain chips. She also suggested skipping the bread! Baker suggested putting chicken salad in a tomato instead using bread. And don't forget the protein! "Make sure you put some protein on your salad with some deli meat or beans."
NEED A SNACK
Baker said you shouldn't need to run to the vending machine if you pack the right snacks. "Consider packing things like popcorn, homemade trail mix, pumpkin nuts, pumpkin seeds, pretzels, a few cookies, fresh fruit."
WEB EXTRA: FREEZE THE SANDWICH, WITHOUT FREEZER BURN
Since freezing lunch was one of her suggestions, Baker offered a trick on how to freeze your sandwich without it getting freezer burned.
-Put the sandwich in a ziploc bag
-Close it almost all the way, leaving an opening with enough room to put a straw into the bag
-Use the straw to suck the excess air out of the bag, until it's shrunk all around the contents
-Quickly pull out the straw and seal the ziploc bag completely
WFMY News 2