If you base your diet on vegetables, fruits, whole grains and pulses, and eating less red and processed meat, salt and high calorie foods, then you are well on your way to healthy lifestyle. This is because having a healthy diet can reduce the risk of many diseases and cancers including bowel, stomach and lung cancer. However, for a working-class professional especially one with a 9 to 5, it can sometimes be difficult to make lunches healthy.
But fret not! Here are some essential tips for satisfying healthy lunches that won’t have you reaching for the biscuit or candy can by 3pm and won’t break the bank.
Having Leftovers for Lunch
The ideal budget lunch solution is to take leftovers from the previous night’s meal to work, which can be popped in the microwave or packed in a food warmer and ready within minutes. Stews and sauces are ideal for leftover lunches, as are pasta dishes. Leftovers from a Sunday roast can also be used up for Monday lunch – for example, you could eat the cooked meat/chicken cold, with a salad.
Soup for the day
Soups are satisfying, warming and, of course, an easy way to fill up on nutrients. Homemade soup can be quick and easy to make where you can make a batch during the weekend to last you for a few days. If you make too much, you can always pop a few portions in the freezer and reheat whenever you need them.
If it’s not practical or convenient to make your own soup, then you can buy them from a supermarket or sandwich shop, making sure that it is still a healthy option. Choose soups with plenty of veg and steer clear of those labelled ‘cream of’ or that contain processed meat such as ham or bacon which brings us to our next point.
Check the food labels
If you’re choosing a shop-bought lunch, take a moment to look at the nutritional information. Often times, we just pick up an item, sight the “Very Healthy” or “Low Cholesterol” written around it and assume that it is as healthy as it says. The right nutritional information is often stated and well labelled, showing the quantities of macro and micronutrients per 100g or per serving. Some food brands do label the calorie and salt content of their products, and have more information on their websites where you can browse more info and make enquiries before you even leave your desk. Choose labels which are mostly low for salt, sugar and fat.
Lighter fillings for Sandwiches
Avoiding mayonnaise, cheese and meat in rich, creamy dressings can help reduce the calories in your sandwich and reduce your risk for cardiovascular diseases. Healthy options include plain chicken, turkey or tuna, all with fresh, crisp salad. Adding spring onions, some fresh herbs or a teaspoon of fresh tomato salsa is a great way to add in more flavor and make your healthy eating more fun!
The Versatile Potato
Potatoes make a low-calorie but filling accompaniment to a salad or plate of leftovers – three to four potatoes contain just about 50 calories. You can take pre-cooked potatoes into work and reheat them with the rest of your meal or eat them cold.
For days when the craving can’t be silenced, it’s a good idea to keep some healthy snacks on hand. Here are some ideas:
- Flavored rice cakes
- Dried fruit
- Unsalted nuts and seeds
- Fresh fruit (take advantage of supermarket special offers by sharing with a colleague)
- Vegetable sticks, including carrots, cucumber and celery
- Home-made fruit juices and Low-fat yoghurts