Wondering what to pack for lunch? Try these ideas for a tasty midday meal.
It’s 12.30 pm and there it is in the office fridge—a cling-wrapped square of boringness crammed next to a lonely piece of fruit in your insulated lunch bag. It’s the sandwich you threw together while you made the kids’ breakfast and, though it’s not exactly bin-worthy, it’s not inspiring either.
Preparing our lunch often gets pushed aside in the busyness of juggling family and work. By the time we’ve organised breakfast, got the kids ready for school or childcare, packed the required ‘Nude Food’ and brain food into their lunch boxes, ironed something for ourselves to wear to work and managed to get everyone into the car on time, lunch is often way down on the list of priorities.
Nutrition Australia has plenty of tips to overcome the “What will I have for lunch today?” dilemma to ensure we don’t end up with something unappetising or decide the closest takeaway food outlet is a better option.
What’s a healthy lunch?
Nutrition Australia says our midday meal should provide us with the nutrients to give us enough energy to get through the afternoon and suggests aiming to include the following foods in your lunch box:
• a variety of fruit and vegetables, grain foods such as wholemeal/wholegrain high fibre bread, crackers or wraps;
• lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, and/or legumes;
• reduced-fat varieties of milk, yoghurt and cheese.
A spot of planning, such as packing your lunch the night before, preparing food on the weekend or cooking a little extra dinner so you have leftovers for the next day, pays off when all you have to do is take your lunch bag from the fridge as you walk out the door to work.
Another benefit of having at least one substantial, tasty food item for lunch is that you’re less likely to ditch what you’ve got in favour of fast food—much better for your waist and your wallet.
Ideas include quiche and salad, salad topped with chicken/tuna/beef/lentils, sushi, soup, mini pizza muffins and toasted sandwiches and melts.
Add zest to your sandwiches
Sandwiches are definitely convenient and quick to prepare, so try a few of Nutrition Australia’s ideas to break out of the same-old-sandwich rut.
• Use different breads such as wholemeal, wholegrain, and rye.
• Try low-fat margarine spreads, low-fat mayonnaise and dressings instead of butter.
• Experiment with a variety of fillings, such as salad and low-fat cheese; egg and lettuce; tuna/chicken/beef/ham and salad; chicken and avocado, coleslaw and baby spinach; roast meat and chutney or a baked beans/spaghetti jaffle.
What about snacks?
Do you need a mid-afternoon pick-me-up? Nutrition Australia notes that, while snacking provides the energy to keep us going until our next meal, it’s important to choose wisely to avoid overeating.
Tasty, filling choices include wholegrain crackers with tomato and low-fat cheese, plain popcorn, fruit salad, vegie sticks with hummus or yoghurt dip and a fruit smoothie with low-fat milk.