It’s easy to spend a fortune on work lunches each month, simply because you don’t have the time to plan in advance. If you’re trying to eat well and avoid junk food, planning is essential – it’s long been said that if you fail to plan, your plan will fail.
Packing a healthy lunchbox is a great way to help you get all the nutrients you need and keep you alert and productive during the day. Ideally, we should be eating regular meals and snacks throughout the day. Eating every few hours keeps your blood sugar levels stable, giving your body and brain the fuel it needs to keep you going throughout the day.
One simple way to eat well at work is to bring in leftovers, says Jean Hailes naturopath Jess Gleeson.
“Cooking extra food for each meal is a great way to fill a few lunch boxes, freezing a week’s supply at a time will mean you simply grab something as you race out to work.”
If you’re starting from scratch, plan a trip to the supermarket to pick up a few lunch basics. Start with serves of fruit and vegetables. Chop up carrot and celery, for instance, to have with a little bit of low-fat cream cheese or hummus. Or make a large container of fruit salad that you can store in the fridge at work and dip into during the week.
A bag of sunflower seeds or almonds are also a life saver when you feel like munching. Balancing your lunch so it includes a low glycaemic index carbohydrate can prevent that 3pm slump as low GI foods break down slowly, gradually releasing glucose into the bloodstream and keeping you feeling full for longer. Good examples of low GI foods include beans, grainy bread, fruit and lentils.
Making a big salad to eat over a few days is one of the easiest ways to plan ahead for the week. Brown rice, chick peas, cooked lentils, quinoa and barley are all great additions to a salad and are packed full of fibre and protein. Mix in some tofu, chicken or tuna for protein. Other fish, such as tinned sardines and mackerel are goods sources of omega-3 fatty acids and calcium.
Low-fat yoghurt and cheese are also easy sources of calcium, needed to keep your bones and teeth strong. They’re easy to keep at work for snacks.
Taking a sandwich or wrap to work and heading out for a brisk walk at lunchtime is a great way to get active, clear your head and burn a few calories.
THE HEALTHY TOOL KIT FOR WORK
Jean Hailes dietitian Anna Waldron says, ”Have a think about what you might need for a week of work lunches. Here are some examples of what you may like to have in your fridge and pantry ready for assembling a delicious healthy lunch and snacks.”
Some wholegrain rolls/bread/flatbread/crisp bread/bagels
Tubs of ready-cooked rice
Tub of light cream cheese
Boiled eggs in airtight container
Small tins tuna or other tinned fish
A packet smoked salmon
Rashers of bacon cooked crisp and chopped up
Washed and dried salad leaves
Tomatoes or punnet of cherry tomatoes
Carrots chopped into snack sized sticks
Salad dressing: make a simple one yourself with olive oil and vinegar
Selection of fresh fruit such as apples, mandarins, bananas, kiwifruit, melon and strawberries
Natural low fat yoghurt
Healthy snacks such as nuts and seeds including sunflower seeds and almonds; rice cakes; dried fruit; slice of fruit toast or wholegrain dry biscuits
Published with the permission of Jean Hailes for Women's Health