Lack of time and preparation often means we’re reaching for convenient options that are more processed and expensive — and it’s our well-being and afternoon productivity that can suffer.
These quick and healthy packed lunch ideas and snacks will help you get through the workday, keep your health on track, taste delicious and save you money!
Five dinner leftovers that can be remade into something new for lunch
Make extra dinner that can easily be packed up for the next day’s lunch. Or get creative and change your leftovers into something new.
- Add leftover quinoa or diced pieces of tofu to homemade vegetable or lower-sodium canned vegetable soup.
- Toss leftover curried cauliflower with chickpeas, beans or lentils. Serve it up with whole wheat pita wedges and raita (cucumber & yogurt dip).
- Turn a green salad into a meal. Mix in any chopped meat, beans, eggs, chicken, turkey, fish or tofu.
- Try sliced roast beef over greens with dressing. Add a whole grain roll and some cheese.
- Make an instant burrito. Wrap leftover chilli/mince, salsa and shredded cheese in a small whole wheat tortilla. Heat it up at work. Enjoy with a side of plain yogurt or add salad, rice or beans to make into a bigger meal.
Five no-cook ideas for work lunches
Mix and match foods from a few different food groups.
- Spread tuna salad over whole grain crackers. Other toppings could be sardines, refried beans, peanut butter or hummus.Add some fruit, vegetables and milk to make this a meal.
- Mix up chopped tomatoes, capsicum, cucumber and kidney beans. Enjoy with a whole wheat roll spread with hummus.
- Layer up yogurt, lots of fruit and a sprinkle of nuts to create a meal-size yogurt parfait.
- Pair up canned baked beans with mini pitas..
- Pack up hard-boiled eggs, cheese cubes, a handful of grape tomatoes, and a few celery sticks.
Did you know? Hardboiled eggs can be kept in the fridge for up to a week if you keep the shell on.
Five yummy ideas for sandwiches and wraps
The options for sandwiches and wraps are endless. Start with whole grain breads, go light on the spreads and add some colour and crunch with veggies. Include some lean protein such as eggs, skinless chicken or beans. Here are some combinations to try:
- Nut butter and banana
- Refried beans, salsa and lettuce
- Hummus, baby spinach and grated carrot
- Chicken and mango wrap
- Tofu with peanut sauce, grated cabbage, red onion and bell peppers
Snacks to Pack
Small healthy snacks can help keep you energised when you’re hungry between meals. Pack snacks in your lunch bag so you don’t have to rely on vending machines or coffee shop treats. Try these snacks:
- Hard-boiled egg and a few whole grain crackers
- Plain or vanilla Greek yogurt with berries
- Steamed edamame (soybeans)
- Apple slices with almond butter
- Veggie sticks with black bean dip
- Protein-packed bars
Snacks to keep at work
Keep some non-perishable foods at work for those times when packing snacks just doesn’t happen:
- Light tuna: Buy single-serving cans or vacuum-packed pouches. Eat with a few whole grain crackers for a snack or scoop onto a salad for lunch.
- Fruit cups: Try unsweetened mandarin oranges, fruit cocktails, pineapple, applesauce and peaches packed in water or juice.
- Trail mix: Make your own with nuts, seeds, dried fruits, popcorn and multigrain pretzels.
- Granola, nut or seed bars: Choose plain bars with little sugar and at least 2 grams fibre.
- Cereals: Choose an unsweetened cereal with at least 4 grams of fibre per serving. Buy milk at work to add to a small bowl of cereal.
- Crackers and bread sticks: Choose whole grain options. Enjoy with natural peanut butter, hummus or a little cheese. Keep some in the workplace fridge if you have one.
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