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AHA fosters and supports community efforts to make healthy eating and physical activity the way of life in Wake County.

Healthy Brown Bag Challenge: Saving Calories and Money

For the third day of the Healthy Brown Bag Challenge, we’re talking numbers.  Most of us enjoy a night off from cooking, particularly as we rush from work to extracurricular activities for ourselves and/or our children. Interestingly, this graphic shows Raleigh at the top of the list for cities dining out in 2009 and Durham just behind it. It’s great that our area has a thriving restaurant economy (especially with more restaurants providing local and healthy options), but there is a cost—in terms of calories and finances. Let’s take a look.

The Cost in Calories

 
“On average, individuals who eat at restaurants consume 339 more calories per meal than individuals who do not. This estimate is statistically significant and sizeable: the average restaurant meal contains 50 percent more calories than the average home-cooked meal,” according to Restaurants, Regulation and The Supersizing of America (2010). And with the number of Americans eating out, that’s adding up to a lot of extra calories. (According to the National Restaurant Association’s 2011 Restaurant Industry Forecast, 84 percent of all adults eat at a sit-down restaurant at least once a month, and 83 percent purchase a meal or snack at a quick-service or carry-out restaurant at least once a month.)
 

The Cost in Dollars and Cents

The hit to your wallet from eating lunch out is worth considering too! According to the Workonomix survey released in January, two-thirds (66%) of American workers surveyed buy their lunch, spending an average of $37 per week. So on average, they are spending $2,000 a year. About a third of those employees have made it a financial goal to bring lunch this year instead of buy it.
 

Savings

This Cooking Light feature offers some eye-opening comparisons of prices and calories for a number of dishes prepared at home vs. in popular chain restaurants! This article highlights some great ways to save time and money, such as make enough lunches for a whole week at one time, eat “planned” leftovers, buy items in bulks and package them yourself in small servings to save money and to control the amount of food you are eating.
 
Do these numbers–both the calories and the dollars–have you thinking about packing lunch more often?
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