Healthy lunchbox tips for the working adult
“Pack a lunch that is full of wholesome ingredients to beat the afternoon office slump and a feel rejuvenated with a hearty meal”
Avoid that mid-afternoon slump by packing foods that allows for better blood sugar control, which helps make one feel more energetic and experience less hunger pangs.
Packing lunch offers you a better opportunity to enjoy your favourite healthy foods. Good nutrition is only one reason why bringing your lunch is a better idea than eating out.
Lunches provide around one-third of our daily nutritional needs, so it is important to put some thought and planning into them. Here are some nutrition-boosting tips on how to prepare a quick and easy healthy lunchbox.
Pack a lunchbox that follows My Healthy Plate concept:
- Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables
- Fill a quarter of your plate with whole-grains
- Fill a quarter of your plate with meat and other proteins
- Use healthier oils — canola, sunflower and olive oil are recommended
- Choose water over sugared sodas
Get creative by following these simple tips in making interesting sandwiches:
BREAD – Use a variety of bread that is readily available
- Pita bread
- Flavored bread (sun-dried tomato, corn, raisin)
FILLINGS – Can be prepared the day before
- Tuna in water with a dash of pepper, salt and lemon juice
- Egg – omelette or scrambled or poached
- Tomato (sliced) and low fat cheese
- Roast chicken with avocado
SALAD – All these salads can be added into your sandwich as part of your vegetables servings.
- Lettuce, cucumber, tomato, rockets, baby spinach, capsicum/bell
- Vegetable sticks (carrot / celery / cherry tomatoes) with dip (hummus / tzatziki / yoghurt)
- Hot foods
Consider cooking extra for dinner and pack it for lunch the next day, making the most of leftovers. These save time, money and can offer a healthier choice for lunch.
Where the cooking autonomy remains with you whilst you prepare meals at home, and choose the better oils, reduction in salt and salty sauces, add more vegetables and use lean protein sources, you can still enjoy your hot meals in a take-away fashion with your extras at dinner in microwaveable boxes and thermal or electric lunch boxes too!
If you like to have a hot meal during lunch, here are some suggestions:
- Fried rice / noodles with mixed vegetables and lean meat
- Pasta with tomato based sauce (with vegetables, lean minced chicken or beef)
- Rice with meat and vegetables
- Snack ideas
Choose a healthy snack to get you through the day
- Fresh fruit / Dried fruit / Fruits in season
- A small tub of plain yoghurt with sliced fruits (banana, berries)
- A small tub of low fat fruit yoghurt
- A handful (30g) of unsalted nuts or seeds
- Your lunchbox can be prepared on the previous night so that you do not have to rush in the morning.
- Place tomato between fillings (meat / salad / cheese) so that the bread will not get soggy or packed fillings separately using cling wrap.
- Make fruit easier to eat. Slice melon / mango, remove orange peel and cut kiwi into half, and include a spoon.
- Make sure that lunchbox is kept in a cool place or in the refrigerator.
Tips for packing foods
Food safety can be an issue if foods not packed properly.
- Once food has been cooked and packed, it should be refrigerated or frozen within two hours.
- Leftovers that are kept for three to four days in the refrigerator. Be sure to eat them within that time.
- Freeze any leftovers that cannot be eaten immediately and note the date on the containers.
- Bacteria typically do not change the taste, smell or look of food, you cannot tell whether a food is dangerous to eat.
- If you are in doubt about a food’s safety, it is best to throw it out.
Stay tuned for our next article on “Healthy Lunch box tips for children”
Matwiejczyk L, Field L, Withall E, Scott, J 2015, ‘An Online Workplace Healthy Lunchbox Challenge for Adults’, Journal of Nutrition Education and Behaviour, vol. 47, issue. 4, pp. 399–401.e1
Hubbard KL, Must A, Eliasziw M, Folta SC, Goldberg J 2014, ‘What’s in Children’s Backpacks: Foods Brought from Home’, Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, vol. 114, issue. 9, pp. 1424-1431
Institute of Food Technologists 2013, Ten tips for enjoying & preparing a safer packed lunch. Available from: <http://www.ift.org/Knowledge-Center/Learn-About-Food-Science/Food-Facts/Preparing-a-Safer-Lunch.aspx>. [12 June 2013].
Chapman, B & Schaffner, D, Food Safety Tips for Packing School Lunches. Available from: <http://www.ift.org/Knowledge-Center/Learn-About-Food-Science/Food-Facts/lunchboxes.aspx>. [ 8 May 2015].