Healthy Lunch Ideas for the Office
Does the thought of going back to work make your stomach churn? After a week or two of sleeping in without a care in the world, the thought of setting an alarm and sitting at a desk may seem dreadful! Not to mention, the extra effort of planning and preparing your lunch for work.But before you take the easy way out – otherwise known as eating lunch at the downstairs café - stop to consider the consequences. Firstly, restaurant meals tend to be higher in fat and sugar, and the portions are often too big. In fact, one study showed that people who ate at restaurants consumed 200 calories more than those who prepared their own meal.
Secondly, you will spend up to five times more money purchasing your lunch. For example, a tuna salad sandwich may cost under $3 to make at home, yet a gourmet sandwich at a café may set you back $15. Let’s not forget, if you have lunch prepared, you are less likely to skip it! This means a more productive day at work, and less trips to the biscuit jar.
The secret to building a successful work lunch routine is consistency. Studies have shown it takes 66 repetitions of a new activity to form a habit, and as we know, habits are easier to maintain over time! Try 5 of the top work-lunch routines to help you find the right fit for you.
1. The ‘leftovers’ routine:
One of the easiest solutions to your work lunch dilemma, is to simply cook an extra portion of dinner! Make sure you prepare enough of all your meal components, including vegetables, protein and low GI carbs, otherwise you may end up hungry or fatigued.
Top examples for leftover lunches:
- Stir fried tofu with vegetables and brown rice
- Sweet potato and vegetable frittata with side salad
2. The ‘convenience food’ routine:
We’re talking microwave quinoa cups, frozen steamed vegetables, fresh soup pouches, tinned fish, sliced cheese and multigrain crackers! Basing your lunch around healthy convenience foods can shave many precious minutes off your meal prep.
Top examples for convenience food lunches:
- Microwave single serve quinoa cup with frozen mixed vegetables and tinned salmon
- Fresh vegetable soup pouch with sliced cheese and multigrain crackers
3. The ‘bulk cooking’ routine:
Think how much easier life would be if you had a large containers of cooked proteins, low GI carbs and chopped vegetables in your fridge? All it takes is a bit of forward planning on a Sunday and you have your lunches sorted for the week. Well worth it in our opinion!
Top examples for bulk cooking lunches:
- Falafel balls with tabbouleh salad and hummus
- Cajun spiced chicken tenderloins with herbed quinoa, steamed green vegetables and avocado
4. The ‘assemble in the office’ routine:
If you despise making lunches in advance, try this. Take into work all the pantry ingredients you need on Monday, top up with fresh produce throughout the week and assemble your lunch in the office kitchen.
Top examples for assemble in the office lunches:
- Multigrain wrap with smoked salmon, cottage cheese, baby spinach, halved cherry tomatoes and pickles
- Salad using kale-slaw, tinned tuna, 4-bean mix, feta cheese and mixed seeds
5. The ‘early morning’ routine:
If you don’t mind setting your alarm 10 minutes earlier to assemble your lunch, you can create a new meal each day, and avoid taste fatigue. Draw upon a few of the above suggestions, for example, using part leftovers and part convenience items, to minimise time spent in the kitchen.Top examples for early morning lunches:
- Leftover schnitzel with a quick salad, using bagged mixed leaves, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, sliced mushroom and canned corn
- Leftover penne pasta stirred through a salad with sundried tomatoes, spinach, olives and topped with a boiled egg and a dollop of pesto