When it comes to nutrition, lunch often feels like the most difficult meal to get right. Hectic days can mean that there’s little time to prepare a healthy lunch – and little time to eat it, too!
But lunch needn’t be daunting or time-consuming. These simple tips will help you to get an equally healthy lunch into your day whether you’ve got bags of time or no time whatsoever.
Make-ahead lunch ideas
For when you’ve got time the night before…
It’s well worth spending 15–20 minutes prepping your lunch for the day ahead if you can. You could even batch prep a few portions.
Here are a few of our go-to prep-ahead lunch ideas from The Stone Soup:
Why not grab your phone/tablet/iPad and put on your favourite TV show or podcast whilst prepping your lunch?
On-the-day lunch ideas
For when you’ve got 10 minutes to pull something together...
It’s easy to build out a quick and healthy lunch using the same principle you would your other meals: protein, fibre & healthy fats.
Here are a few quick no-cook/quick-cook options for each:
✓ Protein: Eggs, leftover meats/tofu, canned tuna/mackerel/sardines, smoked salmon, canned chickpeas/beans.
✓ Fibre: Leftover veggies, rocket, spinach, chopped peppers/cucumber, cherry tomatoes.
✓ Healthy fats: Olive oil, hummus, olives, nuts, seeds, cheese, sour cream, full-fat yoghurt, avocado.
This could be as simple as…
✓ Eggs with spinach, cherry tomatoes and pumpkin seeds
✓ Leftover roast chicken with a quick salad, dressed with olive oil
✓ Half a can of black beans mixed with chopped veggies, sliced avocado and seeds
Busy day lunch ideas
For when you’ve no time and nothing prepped…
There are some days when things don’t go to plan and that’s fine. If you’ve got nothing prepared and no time to whip something up, you can simply have a serving of Purition as an alternative.
It’s a healthy and nutritious option, which means that you will not feel the need to reach for the biscuit tin at work out of desperation. If you’ve already had a shake for breakfast, you could always add a little variety by enjoying Purition as a yoghurt bowl or instant porridge.
Additional tips for a healthy lunch
1. Double-up the night before
If you don’t have time to dedicate to preparing lunch, why not cook extra food at dinnertime and pack away a portion for lunch the next day?
Preparing more food for dinner when you are already cooking anyway will mean no extra work at all. It’s a very cost and time-effective way to use your ingredients.
You can also make use of your leftovers. Leftover roast chicken on Sunday? Make a chicken salad for Monday. Leftover veggies? Add a quick protein source and you’re good to go for the next day’s lunch.
2. Choose meal deals & takeaways wisely
Need to grab lunch on the go? Long gone are the days when the only option was a ‘meal deal’ of a sandwich, a packet of crisps and a fizzy drink. Most supermarkets now have a fantastic selection of healthy and tasty lunch options.
✓ Instead of a sandwich, opt for a salad box/bowl.
✓ Instead of a packet of crisps or chocolate bar, opt for an egg & spinach pot or small bag of nuts.
✓ Instead of a fizzy drink, opt for tea/coffee or sparkling water.
3. Hydrate well
Staying hydrated throughout the day will keep you more alert past your lunch break so that your brain can keep performing at its peak.
So keep sipping on your water bottle all day and enjoy a cup or two of tea and coffee. If you can, please have your coffee and/or tea without sugar.