How to Make Healthy (And Delicious) Work Lunches, According to a Nutritionist
Whether you're a dedicated Sunday meal prepper or like to switch things up daily, your work lunch can make or break your day. While that might sound a little bit dramatic, we all know the dreaded feeling of the afternoon slump that happens as a result of a lacklustre midday meal. On the other hand, a nutritious lunch can provide you with the energy and brainpower to get you through to the end of the day. But, where to start? Are leftovers okay? We spoke with Registered Nutritionist Steph Geddes, who was able to guide us in the right direction when it comes to what and how to prepare yummy, healthy lunches for the office.
Thinking of just working your way through lunch and hoping your breakfast and morning cappuccino will do their bit to energise you? Think again. Steph explains that "we really only have three main opportunities in the day to get maximum nutrients in", so stopping to nourish your body at lunch with sustainable energy for the remainder of the day is super important. Instead of looking at meal prep as another task in your busy schedule, reframe your mind to see it as a way to save yourself time each day. Steph likes to use a notebook to plan out her meals in advance, and says that "if you’re not prepared, there are too many excuses that can pop up and get in the way of you enjoying something healthy at lunchtime". So, what's the best way to prepare work lunches in advance? Steph tells us that it's helpful to do some batch preparation of a weekend, "whether that’s cooking whole meals or just prepping ingredients like cutting up veggies, cooking quinoa or making salad dressings". This way, you can just throw everything together the night before or in the morning and you're more likely to stick to your healthy plan.
To get an idea of what a health professional such as Steph eats on the daily, we asked her to give us a rundown of her go-to lunch recipes. While it varies from day to day, her lunches often contain "salad with seasonal vegetables (some raw, some cooked) with quinoa, pulse pasta or sweet potato and combined with tuna, salmon, halloumi or eggs. Then I always drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice". In winter, Steph enjoys the odd soup and is definitely partial to last night's leftovers. For what you should include in your own lunchtime work meals, Steph uses the following as a guide—"build your plate with half vegetables or salad, one-quarter protein, one-quarter complex carbohydrates and then one tablespoon of healthy fats".
Steph has also provided us with a few of her favourite lunch ideas that combine all of the essential nutrients mentioned above while tasting great and taking next to no time to prepare.
- Mashed tuna, hummus, avocado, rocket, cucumber and tomato wrap.
- Roasted veggie salad with salmon, drizzled with a dressing of kefir, lemon juice and tahini.
- Haloumi and corn fritters.
- Pumpkin, caramelised onion and feta frittata.
For more healthy meal ideas, this is exactly what to eat for breakfast, according to a dietitian.