There are tons of good reasons to pack your lunch the day before. Here are just three of them:
- You will save money (quite a bit of it).
- You can control what you eat to ensure you stay healthy and aren’t tempted by last minute cravings.
- You won’t have to deal with the eternal 'what shall I have for lunch?' dilemma or fight the urge to resist 4pm chocolate biscuits.
Preparation is key so planning and packing a main meal plus two snacks will keep you sorted through the day. The other trick is to prepare a balanced meal of protein and carbohydrates with a hefty appearance of fruit and veg so you know whatever happens after work you’ve got through most of the day eating well for your health and running.
The snacks to mix and match:
The key to your snacks is to also try to include a little protein in there, thus stopping the sugar high followed by ravenous hunger that returns.
- A banana with nut butter
- Oat cakes with nut butter or hummus
- Half an avocado with salt, pepper and lemon
- Roasted nuts
- Kale chips
- Sweet potato wedges
- Homemade energy protein balls
- Vegetable crudités with hummus
- Mixed nuts and dried fruit
- Natural yoghurt with berries (or any other fruit)
- Chopped apple with almonds
The main event
Quinoa and feta salad
Why: quinoa is the super grain that we’ve been loving for a while now and is the only grain that is also a complete protein, great news for your muscles. You can use any veg combinations you like here but try to include at least three. The feta also adds calcium for healthy bones.
You need: 1/3 cup of quinoa, cubes of feta, a small handful of cashews, cherry tomatoes, sliced pepper, 1/3 avocado, handful of spinach (or any other veg you like), plus lemon juice and seasoning.
To assemble: simply cook with quinoa with two parts water, meanwhile chop up all the veg then add to cooked quinoa with the cheese, seasoning and juice of half a lemon. Stir and store in Tupperware.
Sweet potato and tuna salad
Why: This makes perfect recovery food as it includes carbohydrates and protein, plus the sweet potato is high in anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. It will fill you up and keep you that way (till snack time at least).
You need: 1 medium sweet potato, 1 tin of tuna (or another tinned fish), a couple of spring onions, stick of celery, slices of pepper, 2 tbsp natural yoghurt, seasoning and optional chilli flakes and fresh coriander.
To assemble: Bake the sweet potato or if you’re short for time, cut in half and cook in the microwave. Meanwhile chop up the veg into small pieces and put into a bowl with the drained tuna, seasoning and yoghurt, plus chilli and herbs. Put potato in Tupperware with the tuna mix on top or in separate container if you prefer.
Why: The classic chicken wrap provides a healthy balance of carbs and protein, plus fibre from the wholemeal wrap. Adding the leaves gives you a nutritious dose of iron and vitamin C. It’s also super quick to prep.
You need: one wholemeal wrap, half a chicken breast, 1 tbsp pesto, small handful rocket or spinach, sun dried tomatoes.
To assemble: Cook your chicken breast by poaching in hot water or roasting. Meanwhile spread the wrap with pesto then slice tomatoes into small pieces. When the chicken is cooked slice half of it and arrange in the wrap – use the other half for the next day, and add tomato and rocket, then wrap up.
Puy lentil and roasted veg salad
Why: Lentils are full of protein and fibre so make a great lunch staple. Roasted vegetables taste great and give you a a decent serving of your 5 a day, add some goats cheese for extra flavour and calcium.
You need: ½ cup puy lentils, mixed veg to roast (good options include: courgette, peppers, aubergine and tomato), two tbsp. of sunflower seeds, 1 clove garlic, juice of lemon, seasoning and balsamic vinegar, goats cheese (optional).
To assemble: Cook the lentils in boiling water till soft, meanwhile chop up your mixed veg and drizzle with olive oil then put into a pre heated oven to roast. Once the veg is cooked and lentils are cooked and drained mix them together adding the seeds and cheese if you're including it. Finely chop a garlic clove then mix it with lemon juice and vinegar then stir into salad with some seasoning.
Smoked salmon and rocket sandwich
Why: sometimes a simple sandwich is all you want. This sandwich is full of heart healthy fats and omega-3 for your joints from the salmon and avocado.
You need: Two slices of bread of your choice (ideally wholemeal, seeded or Rye), two slices smoked salmon, ½ avocado, butter to spread, lemon juice and black pepper.
To assemble: butter the bread, then layer on the salmon and slices of avocado, squeeze with lemon juice and add black pepper. Wrap in foil.