Forget breakfast being the most important meal of the day; when you’re sitting at your office desk and the clock is ticking by at an exceptionally slow rate, there’s only one meal you’re thinking about, and that’s lunch.
If you’re trying to be healthy, however, work lunches can be a bit of a battleground, with temptation around many corners. Not only are we searching for lunches that can be prepared with limited appliances and eaten at your desk, we often have other requirements too. We want quick healthy lunches, filling healthy lunches, easy healthy lunches and cheap healthy lunches – or a combination of all four!
To avoid fingers wandering to unhealthy choices, we suggest two important lines of advice: Plan ahead and remember to avoid boredom by adding variety.
Two meals for the price of one
If you’re a keen cook, a great way to be sure of having an enjoyable healthy lunch for work is to prepare more supper the night before. Doubling up the portions doesn’t mean double the work; what’s an extra chicken breast in the oven or pasta in the pot? Simply dish up your dinner plates, and a tupperware box on the side, and you’re good to go the next morning!
TOP TIP: Some meals do in fact taste better the next day. Pasta sauces, potato salads or anything with herbs and spices in the ingredients included. We love a good leftover for this very reason.
Layer up this summer
The trend that never went out of fashion – layered lunches! Have fun creating combinations of deliciously and visually appealing lunches for work. You can try a classic salad with all your favourite toppings, or how about something different, like a Scandinavian option (with layers of herring, beetroot and sliced egg), or go Japanese (making up a sachet of miso soup to pour over your raw ingredients)? Pile it all up in a jam or Kilner jar and store in the fridge for a few days if necessary. Quick, easy and Instagram ready.
Variety really is the spice of life and dressings can not only transform a bland salad but stop you from dialling up Deliveroo out of boredom. Check out our tempting ways to spice up a salad .
TOP TIP: When layering lunches, pop the wetter ingredients towards the bottom to keep the top ingredients nice and crunchy.
Batch cooking – a life saver
If you have a spare Sunday and feel like cooking up a storm, a bit of batch cooking can be a great way to prepare those healthy work lunches. Make a big batch of something delicious then split it into single portions and throw them in the freezer – it’s as simple as that! Either pick a favourite recipe that you know you’ll never grow tired of, or make something that can translate into multiple dishes. A tomatoey, mince sauce (be it beef, pork, turkey or a meat-alternative) can be thrown together with pasta, rice, a jacket potato or wrapped up in a tortilla to make a variety of tasty lunches.
TOP TIP: Label your freezer bags with the date it was made and also what it is – it’s surprising how everything can look the same when frozen.
Grab and go
There are those days, weeks, even months, when preparing food ahead of time seems like a distant luxury. Deadlines get in the way and it’s often a case of grabbing whatever is quickest for you to get your hands on. In times like these, a bit of planning can go a long way. Know your go-to choices in all the local eateries so that your healthy eating doesn’t need to be sacrificed.
TOP TIP: If you’re facing lunch out with colleagues or clients, you can often have a browse of the menu ahead of time too. Either check out the restaurant’s website or see their social pages for photographs of their dishes.