2nd October 2023

Healthy Lunches For Work

Packing healthy lunches for work, or meal prepping if you are working from home, is one of the best ways to not only ensure you are feeding your body with the best foods, but it is also a great way to cut down on spending.

Takeaway lunches are often laden with sugar and cheaper ingredients, and the portions are often unbalanced. Having your own homemade, healthy lunches for work and choosing foods that are good for your gut could help improve your mood, sleep and stress levels. And, it’s completely achievable: the key is to plan and be prepared.

The big hurdles we see when it comes to packed lunches are:

  • Being unprepared and losing motivation to organise your lunches at home
  • Not enough time in the morning to make lunch before work
  • Not feeling full and satisfied because your meals aren’t balanced with protein, fibre and healthy fats
  • Suffering from the “3 pm slump” prompting unnecessary treats which can affect your food choices for the rest of the day.

How you can overcome some of these hurdles:

  • Use leftovers to your advantage – we often make healthy dinners to feed the family, so why not make an extra serving or two that you can enjoy for lunch the next day? Better yet, pop a few extra portions in the freezer to pull out when you’re short on time. The Fast 800 Programme makes this simple change actionable as members can change the number of servings in their meal planner, which will automatically be reflected in their weekly shopping list.
  • Batch cook your lunches – make a big batch of frittatas at the start of the week, or roast up a tray of veggies to add to salads – if storing in the fridge, batch cooked ingredients should last 3-4 days to feed you for the week. 
  • Continue to follow a low-carb Mediterranean-style diet – it’s low in sugar and starchy carbs while packed full of disease-fighting nutrients. This combination helps control your blood sugar levels, to keep you feeling satiated and keep your mind sharp.
  • Balance your meals – ensure you’re following the principles of a Med-style diet by having a portion of protein, some healthy fats along with filling your plate (or lunchbox) with a variety of non-starchy veg. The key to avoiding the 3 pm slump is to eat foods that will keep you fuller for longer and keep your blood sugars stable. Have a glass of water and take a walk at 3 pm (or whenever that slump usually hits) to boost your energy before you reach for a snack that you don’t really need.

Build your healthy lunches for work from these suggestions, to keep you satisfied and well-fuelled:

  • Start with greens: Dark, leafy greens, like spinach and kale, have amples of nutrients and have both been linked to improved heart health, weight loss and immunity. Note – if you’re using raw kale, it can be a little tough so just be sure to massage with some olive oil before using it as the base of a salad. Other great leaves are gem lettuce, rocket, chicory, swiss chard, watercress and romaine. This list is certainly not exhaustive; any leafy greens you enjoy will be a winner!
  • Add protein: The downfall of many lunches is that they’re lacking in protein, which is often the reason they don’t keep you full for very long. Protein is vitally important for growth, repair and the maintenance of muscle mass. It also helps to curb cravings throughout the day. Protein can be found in both animal and plant-based sources; try eggs, chicken, cottage cheese, ricotta, tempeh, lentils or edamame beans.
  • Include healthy fats: Fats help keep you fuller for longer and also add flavour to your food. Fats also help with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins A, D, E and K. Monounsaturated fats come with a number of scientifically proven health benefits including weight loss, decreased inflammation, increased sensitivity to insulin and reduced risk of heart disease. You can find very high levels of monounsaturated fats in extra virgin olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds – which all happen to be absolutely delicious!
  • Load up with veg: The more colours you have on your plate, the more nutrients! Adding vegetables, such as colourful peppers/capsicum or tomatoes can add plenty of vitamins and minerals to your lunch.
  • Add extra flavour: If you’re having a salad, try not to drench it in dressing, or buy store-bought ones laden with sugar, additives and preservatives. Salad dressings are absolutely delicious with just a few ingredients that you’ll probably already have in your cupboards (they’re much cheaper when you make them yourself too)! Keep it simple with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice or try this simple recipe: whisk together 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 1 tsp apple cider vinegar, ½ tsp Dijon or wholegrain mustard with salt and pepper – enjoy! If you’re making a hot meal, add some herbs and spices to really make it sing.

Here are some of our nutritionists brilliant recipes, perfect if you’re looking for healthy lunches for work ideas:

If you’re looking for additional support, our nutritionist, Gabi, has created over 700 recipes available on our Programme (now also available as an app), with plenty of options for vegetarians and non-vegetarians looking to lose or maintain weight, while improving metabolic health by following a healthy, Mediterranean-style diet.


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