Start your “new year” off right by learning to pack a healthy work lunch that will have you feeling like your best, most productive self.
September has arrived and you know what that means. For most, the summer holidays are coming to a close and it’s time to head back to work or school. If you want to start your “new year” off on the best foot possible, consider incorporating some healthy habits into your daily routine.
One thing that always helps me feel prepared to take on the day is to ensure I pack myself a healthy lunch. Not only do you save more of your hard-earned money by bringing your own, but homemade lunches are often the more nutritious choice too. And that’s important whether you work at a desk or have a physically active job. Eating well is essential to fuel the body AND the brain. In both cases, a healthy work lunch is key!
How to Pack a Healthy Work Lunch
The easiest way to make sure you have a nutritious mid-day meal is to pack it yourself. Try out these five tips to get started and set yourself up for success.
1. Do a mini meal prep
Putting lunch together is so much easier when part of it is already prepared. This could mean making a salad that will keep well in your fridge throughout the week, pre-cutting some fruit or vegetables, or baking a batch of muffins. Spending a bit of time at the beginning of the week to prepare some components of your lunch can save you some real time and hassle during the week.
2. Think balanced
Be sure to include the components of a balanced meal so that you feel full, satisfied, and have long-sustaining energy to get you through your afternoon. Ideally, try and pack a source of each of the following:
- Whole grains: like brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal and whole wheat pastas, breads or crackers
- Protein: such as meat, fish, beans, lentils, tofu, eggs, nuts, seeds, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt
- Fruit & Vegetables: anything you like really, ideally including at least one or more veggies plus some fruit
- Fat: avocado, nuts, seeds and nut/seed butters, full-fat yogurt, cheese, hummus, salad dressings
Don’t be afraid to add some satisfaction factor. A healthy lunch doesn’t have to be devoid of flavor or calories. Enjoying your meals is important too!
3. Pack snacks
There’s nothing more distracting than a rumbling tummy. Be sure to bring some snacks to curb hunger between meals so you don’t have to rely on the company cafeteria or vending machine. You may even want to keep some non-perishable snacks at your desk for those unexpected snack attacks or days you’re just extra hungry.
For a filling and satisfying snack, try and include at least two different elements of a balanced meal (see above). Examples of some easy snack ideas you could try:
- Greek yogurt with berries
- Carrot sticks and guacamole
- Egg salad and wholegrain crackers
- Banana and peanut butter
- Popcorn and nuts
- Hummus and tortilla chips
- Grapes and cheese
- Whole wheat toast with nut butter
4. Carry a water bottle
With our brains being made mostly of water, staying hydrated is super important for optimal cognitive performance. Even mild dehydration can impact our ability to focus and concentrate on tasks. Choose water as your go-to beverage and keep a reusable bottle at your desk to make sure you get enough.
Have a water bottle but always forget to drink? Try setting yourself an hourly goal or even a reminder or your phone. Bottoms up!
5. Pack your lunch the night before
Finally, there’s nothing worse than trying to figure out what to pack for lunch before you’ve even had your morning coffee. You’ll be thanking last-night-you when all you have to do is grab your lunch bag out of the fridge before heading out the door.
Tip: Make your life even easier by planning to have leftovers for lunch. Place dinner extras straight into your lunch containers and BAM – your lunch is pretty much packed!
Packing a Healthy Work Lunch: Summary
No one can expect to pack the perfect lunch every day. Enjoying the occasional catered lunch or outing with coworkers is important for your overall well being too. However, taking the time to prepare a healthy work lunch is a great habit to develop. Not only is bringing your own lunch the most economical choice, but it allows you to pack nutritious foods that will have you feeling your best, most productive self.
Need some healthy work lunch inspiration? Check out these recipes!
- Quick’n Easy Smashed Chickpea Salad Toasts
- Mom’s Leftover Taco Pasta Salad
- Simple Spinach Salad with Oranges and Almonds
- Orzo Pasta Salad with Snap Peas and Radishes
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