Healthy Lunch Ideas

Lady looking at fruit and vegetable in a supermarket Healthy lunch ideas for a modern lifestyle.

We are guilty of getting stuck in the ‘lunchtime routine rut’ at some point. Whether mindlessly shuffling out of the office to the usual bakery for comfort and solitude or repeating the same essential recipes we can muster with our eyes closed using on-hand staple ingredients we know will be in the cupboard.

This article seeks to awaken and inspire with delicious, healthy lunch ideas that are practical and ‘doable.’ Included are a couple of recipes which no one can plausibly be excused from trying while at the same time making some suggestions for you to run with. Let’s get cracking…

Dieting, Healthy Eating & Lunch

A healthy lunch is an essential part of any diet, whether you’re trying to lose weight or achieve a balanced and nutritious overall diet (which is the best way to diet, by the way). We have lunch so the body can receive nutrients over the whole day, three main meals and light snacks & fruit in between. But, of course, it goes without saying that when we skip lunch, we may be starving the body for periods, which can lead to bingeing or overeating later in the day.

By definition, a balanced intake of food spread at appropriate intervals during the day is integral to a holistic, balanced diet. Part of enjoying a healthy lunch is planning. Most of us are guilty of just feeling the hunger pains and then trying to think which sandwich shop or bakery we will hit when the time comes. There are obvious pitfalls with this haphazard method of organising one of our main meals.

But this article wasn’t written to tell us what we already know. Instead, it was conceived to give practical, healthy lunch ideas that can inspire and help motivate towards planning a healthy lunch as part of an overall balanced diet.

Healthy Lunch Ideas: The Food

Our healthy lunch ideas are based around delicious easy, available and generally convenient meals, providing you with a nutritious, balanced diet. There are an infinite number of delicious lunches that can be created. These are just the tip of the iceberg. We intend to inspire you.

Of course, it’s not always possible or practical to bring food from home to work, but it’s highly recommended when it is. Purchased sandwiches and ready meals are high in salt, sugar, calories and fat. Also, buying your lunches daily will make it harder to maintain a balanced diet.

Homemade foods are not only better for us nutritionally but are also cheaper than the ready-made alternative.

A couple of disappointing facts are that, on average, as a nation, we only take an average of 20 minutes a day for lunch, and 50% of us will scoff at that while sitting at our desks without stretching our legs.

Healthy Eating and Food Supplements

Of course, the best thing we can do for our well-being is to have a healthy, freshly cooked lunch with lots of fresh vegetables. However, it isn’t always possible or practical to be able to have a sit-down lunch or a freshly prepared packed lunch; this is where food supplements come in; nutrient-dense supplements such as spirulina capsules, wheatgrass capsules and moringa capsules can provide the body with the nutrition it needs to keep functioning at a high level, being convenient to take and carry they easily fit into a busy lifestyle.

Our Ideas For A Healthy Lunch

It can be safely assumed that all our wraps and bread don’t use butter or margarine. Some people like to use olive oil as a replacement which is fine, but beware that olive oil comes with calories. In our recipes, we don’t use anything. Here are a few to get you rolling.

Couscous with fresh herbs and roasted vegetables

Couscous is a great filler. It’s robust and easy to cook. With the cooked couscous, roughly chop roasted vegetables (use seasonal vegetables) and mix; add some avocado, nuts, beans and bean sprouts for texture.

Mixed tuna salad

The beauty of this dish is that it can be deconstructed and quickly thrown together to make a fresh, wholesome meal. Use a variety of salad leaves to provide texture and depth of flavour. Baby spinach, rocket and watercress play well together, along with a few basil leaves. Finally, throw in some roughly cut pepper and red onion.

For the dressing use, a base of extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and freshly ground black pepper. The dressing can be sweetened by adding a drop of honey. Alternatively, add dijon mustard or lime (lemon) juice to taste.

Spicy Chicken Wrap

No lunchtime menu could be considered complete unless there is a spicy chicken wrap. This one incorporates grilled vegetables and involves some night-before prep, so be prepared! First, roughly cut courgettes, peppers and mushrooms into similar-sized chunks, dust with paprika and chilli, and then lightly coat with extra virgin olive oil.

Then grill the veg until soft do the same with chicken until it’s cooked the night before. In the morning, pack the chicken and veg into a sealed container and wrap the tortillas in tin foil. Construct at work and be the envy of the office.

Cup-a-Omelet

This one will get the chins wagging. Prepare the night before one large egg and one egg white, place in a sealed container, grate some cheese and add a diced pepper, a pinch of sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Make sure you have a microwave-proof cup or bowl with light non-stick grease.

Mix all the ingredients except for the cheese and microwave for 1 minute. Stir and microwave again until the eggs are cooked through. Sprinkle the cheese on top to finish.

Chicken & mushroom on a spicy tomato sauce.

You are going to be the envy of the pierced-lid ready meal brigade with this one, easily prepared in minutes in the very modest of kitchens. The night before, cut the chicken into evenly sized pieces along with a few mushrooms, a chopped tomato & tomato puree, some spring onions, and garlic and season using salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Next, cook the pasta and keep it separate.

Keep the chicken cubes, spring onions, garlic and salt in a separate microwavable bowl, cover and cook on full power for 4 minutes, then add the mushrooms, chopped tomato, tomato puree, pepper and Worcestershire sauce, cook for a further 4 minutes. While cooking, blanch the pasta with boiling water from the kettle and add to a plate, place the chicken & mushroom sauce on top and enjoy. Cooking times will vary according to individual circumstances.

Planning A Healthy Lunch

The secret to having healthy lunches is planning, as dull as it sounds. Unfortunately, there isn’t a magic wand which can be waved or a single secret formula that can be brewed. But if you plan your lunch breaks, then you have more chance of eating what you intend to eat; something healthy and nutritious.

Mainly, the day is started with good intentions, but then that extra workload gets piled on us, or we can’t take lunch exactly when we usually do. So, because of these unforeseen circumstances, there is a certain amount of justification to take the easy option, pop to the bakers because it will only take 5 minutes.

A healthy lunch idea isn’t just about packing a sandwich from home or knowing which group of friends to meet at which sandwich shop and when! It’s about being prepared, yes, bringing that special sandwich from home or planning to meet friends in a regular restaurant. But you also have a backup plan. For example, what will you do if you get rushed into a meeting or separated from your sandwich? Is there a nutritious snack in your briefcase or toolbox that will see you through without getting over-hungry?

Super Foods Are The Perfect Nutritious Snack

Many super foods make a convenient snack and provide fulfilling nutrition. Chia seeds can be stored for months, if not years, without spoiling. They can be left in the car’s glove box or the pocket of a briefcase, likewise with goji berries and a whole range of dried fruits. Beware, dried fruits might not store entirely as well as chia seeds.

Having a convenient snack that can be stored for long periods is an excellent way to fill in gaps when unexpected commitments or circumstances arise that stop you from maintaining your regular daily lunchtime routine. Try experimenting with different super foods as well as nuts and dried fruits.

Researching different places that may be nearby your office or area of work can help. Don’t just look for bakers or sandwich shops. Instead, try looking for fresh Asian markets or organic shops. Asia markets, or any other market for that matter, are great places to go and escape for a short time, not just because of the fresh fruits and other available snacks, but to people watch and take in the different smells and bright colours; lunch breaks are about more than just eating, change your surroundings for a few minutes, a different perspective can benefit your work as well as your sanity…

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