It’s easy to slip into the habit of heading to the nearest café or supermarket on your lunch-break when you’re at work or on the go, and before you know it you’ve slipped off the wagon with that new eating plan!
While a packed lunch may sound like a phrase associated with your school days, we promise it’s a great way to keep healthy, save those pennies, and stay satisfied for the rest of the day. Mix it up and stay on track with our top tips for the best healthy lunches!
Preparation is key
Get into the habit of making an extra portion of whatever you have for dinner and you can enjoy the leftovers the next day. Or foil-wrap a chicken breast, salmon fillet, or half a sweet potato and pop it in in the oven while your dinner is cooking.
Packed full of protein, a couple of boiled eggs also make an easy and nutritious addition to a packed lunch. These will be delicious the next day as part of a salad, and who doesn’t like that extra half hour in bed in the morning... Try this chicken and rice salad to use up your leftovers!
Grains and pulses
Instead of just having pasta salad all the time, get creative and try different grains or pulses as a base for veggies, chicken or tofu. Try quinoa, freekeh, bulgar wheat, buckwheat, wild rice, soba noodles or the Ethiopian grain, teff.
Quinoa is a great alternative to pasta, containing almost twice as much fibre as most grains, being high in protein and being packed full of iron. What’s more, most grains contain fewer calories that pasta, so by getting creative, you can eat smart. Try this lentil, quinoa and feta salad for a lighter lunch that is big on flavour!
A tasty, filling and healthy option, soups are a real winner when it comes to packed lunches. Make a batch at the weekend, and set out a couple of individual portions for use that week. Freeze some portions so you can bring it out when you’ve forgotten what that soup tasted like.
Try your hand at making different combinations such as:
- Red lentils with butternut squash
- Roast tomato, onion, pepper, aubergine and courgette
- Chunky winter veg soup with potato, carrot, onion, cabbage
- Lentil and bacon
- Chicken soup with pearl barley
- Gently spiced turmeric daal
Get creative: make your salads interesting, colourful and ensure you include a variety of textures... and a mason jar! Incorporating a mason jar makes for a snazzy lunch that lasts. Prepared in advance, easy to transport and not a soggy salad leaf in sight, these jars keep all your ingredients layered making sure everything is kept fresh and crisp.
Try this avocado, chickpea and tahini salad for your next lunch on the go by layering up the ingredients – dressing at the bottom, to leaves at the top!
You can spice up any salad by adding grilled chicken, goats cheese, avocado, sliced raw mushrooms, chickpeas, citrus fruits, nuts, artichoke hearts, crunchy sliced peppers or seeds.
It’s a great idea to keep some supplies handy at work to jazz up your lunch. If you have the space, stash some olive oil and good balsamic vinegar in a desk drawer. Dressings are an easy place to go wrong as they can add empty calories to your lunch, so go easy on the oil or try a squeeze of lemon juice and some seeds and nuts.
Getting creative is worth the effort because if your lunch is pretty you’ll enjoy eating it more – it’s a fact!