If you buy a quick and easy lunch option close to work, chances are your meal isn’t healthy and you’re spending a small fortune. With a little organisation, you can take a quick and healthy meal to work and save your lunch money for a more exciting purchase.
#1 Salad in a Jar
Known as Mason Jar Salads in the US, these salads became popular a few years ago because you can prepare them well ahead and are easy to transport.
To make the layered salad, use a 700ml jar and start with adding your favourite dressing to the bottom. Add chopped vegetables like cucumber, tomato, capsicum, and salad onion. The next layer could be lentils like kidney beans or vegetables like corn or mushrooms then add some boiled egg and cheese. The next layer can be an ingredient that will keep the mid-afternoon slump at bay. Choose a rice, pasta, quinoa or couscous. Your final layer can be greens like spinach or lettuce and a sprinkling of nuts. Screw the lid on your full jar and keep it in the fridge until you leave for work. When it’s time for lunch empty the jar’s contents into a bowl and enjoy.
#2 Bring in Leftovers
Taking a bowl of leftovers from last night’s dinner is the perfect lunch option. Not only will you save money, but you’ll also be making healthier food choices. If you have a growing family and don’t always have leftovers, double the recipe and freeze half the meal in lunch-size portions. Plus, taking lunch straight from the freezer means there is no need to use an ice brick to keep food fresh while transporting.
#3 Use the Sandwich Press
If you go easy on the cheese and processed meat, you can whip up a quick and healthy lunch using the office sandwich press. Again, you can prepare this option well in advance and take it straight from the freezer on your way out the door. By toasting your Turkish bread or wrap, you don’t need to worry about it being soggy. Make a variety of sandwiches and wraps then you can decide which one you feel like in the morning.
#4 Soups and Stews
There is nothing better than a hearty soup or stew for lunch in the cooler months. Again, you can cook in bulk and store it in the freezer until needed. If you spend a few hours one night during the week or on the weekend, you can pack the freezer with weeks’ worth of meals.
#5 Rice & Pasta Dishes
It doesn’t take long to whip up a delicious rice or pasta dish you can take for lunch. With a little meat, plenty of vegetables, stock and spices you can take a tasty paella to the office.
If you like fried rice, try a few variations by making a Nasi Goreng or in the warmer months a wild rice salad. Remember to use salt-reduced soy sauce.
Pasta doesn't need to be unhealthy. Choose a wholemeal pasta and a tomato-based sauce rather than cream, for a nutritious and satisfying lunch.
#6 Salads and Protein
A quick and easy lunch is to prepare a container of salad with your favourite meat. Grill a piece of chicken, fish or steak the night before and when it’s cooled slice it and add to the salad. Try a Vietnamese chicken salad, Salmon Greek Salad or Thai beef salad to keep things interesting.
#7 Prepare Lunch At Work
If you don’t enjoy carting your lunch around or you’re short on prep time at home, you can leave your lunch ingredients at work. Each week visit the supermarket to pick up fillings for rolls, sandwiches, wraps and salads; and you will have lunch sorted. Store everything in airtight containers so it stays fresh in the fridge or chose pantry items that you can heat in the microwave.
Before you spend a small fortune buying unhealthy lunches next week, try one of these ideas for preparing quick & healthy food for work.
Get Help to Get Started
If you would like to try to improve your general nutrition intake but need some support, contact PeopleSense by Altius. Some EAP contracts allow us to incorporate a nutrition program as part of your Employee Assistance offering. Call us to find out if you are eligible on 1300 307 912 or (08) 9388 9000, or contact us online.