Bringing your own lunch box to work will hopefully inspire you to eat a little healthier, get more variety in your diet and save some money too.
I’ve put together my top 5 tips on how to kick start your grown-up lunch box and show the kids what packed lunches are all about:
1. Find a suitable lunchbox
Find a lunchbox that suits you, there are loads of great ones to pick from; you can get ones with separate and removable compartments like a bento box, some come with attachable cutlery and others are specifically designed for storing and heating soups and stews. Aluminium or stainless steel lunchboxes are also great for keeping food fresh.
2. Make the most of leftovers
Using up leftovers are a great way to save time and money. If you cook extra make sure to divide into containers before serving, otherwise you might end up with big portions and nothing left for your lunch the next day. If you don’t fancy eating the same for lunch the next day, how about using part of your dinner to create a different meal for lunch, for example using the leftover brown rice you used for your curry and adding it to a salad. Or whilst you are cooking your dinner, chuck something in the oven to have for lunch the next day such as roasted veggies and salmon.
3. Prep is key
When you first begin planning your lunchbox it may seem like hard work but once you realise what works well for you and how easy it is, it should hopefully form part of your normal routine. You don’t need to cook in batches and ‘meal prep’ all your meals at the beginning of the week, as this can be a little repetitive and some foods may not stay fresh till the end of the week. However, it’s good to have a rough idea of the foods you want to eat and how much you will need to buy from the shop.
Often after a longs day work you don’t feel like being creative, so it’s best to be prepared and know what you’re cooking. Make sure you have everything prepared and in containers the night before, so in the morning you can just get up, grab your lunch and go.
4. Be creative
Forget soggy sandwiches, it times to liven up your lunch. It’s best to eat a variety of foods so make sure you’re not having the same thing for lunch every day.
If you have access to a microwave at work, you can bring foods that needs to be heated such as soups, casseroles, bean stews and stir-fry’s. Instead of the classic cheese and ham sandwich, alternate the type of bread you are using such as rye bread, pitta’s and wraps. Create some exciting sandwich fillings such as roasted peppers, olives, smashed avocado, rocket, lemon and pepper. Salads are also a great option. Combining a protein such as cheese or chicken with complex carbs like brown rice, lentils or beans and some roasted veggies and leaves makes a super balanced and nutritious salad which can be easily adapated. You can also make up a tasty dressing such as extra virgin olive oil combined with lemon, balsamic vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper, and keep it in the fridge. Frittatas are also a great option as they taste great cold and you can include lots of veggies in it, plus the protein from the egg will fill you up.
5. Fill up on fibre and protein
Fibre and protein rich foods will fill you up and keep you satisfied for longer, so try to include these in your lunchbox. You could add grains and pulses to soups, and leftover chicken or salmon to salads.
Sometimes mid-afternoon you need a little snack to keep you going to until dinner. Nuts and snack mixes such as The Food Doctor’s Full of Beans Protein Mix are a good source of protein and fibre, and will not spike your blood sugar leaving you hungry an hour later. If you’re after something sweet then perhaps some fresh fruit with a nut butter, or a wholesome bar such as The Food Doctors goodness bars.
Gemma, The Food Doctor nutritionist