Healthy Eating Lunch Box Ideas

Don't go out to grab lunch everyday, bring a restaurant quality meal from home with these lunch box ideas and reap the rewards of eating healthy on the go! 

When we're at work, it's all too easy to go for the convenience of grabbing something for lunch from a cafe, food court or fast food outlet.  Of course when convenience wins, we really don't know the quality of the food we're eating, what's really in it,  or how it's been prepared.  We end up consuming lots of hidden extras!  I find I am often not satisfied at the end of the meal and really don't enjoy the food, leaving me craving something to fill the gap  - a healthy eating disaster! 

With a little pre-planning and thought it is easy to bring a tasty, restaurant quality lunch box from home.   So many rewards for such a small effort!  

Organisation is the secret, so here's some healthy eating lunch box ideas to help get you started ....

Basic Necessities

Firstly some 'up front' necessities and planning so we don't waste our efforts:

1.  Make sure you have suitable lunch boxes/containers/thermos to transport food to and from work.  Nothing is more annoying than a meal that leaks into your handbag (inevitably your brand new handbag) or your expensive briefcase.  We usually use Nudie Food Movers for salads; a small thermos for soup and leak proof containers for leftovers.

2.  Watch your portions.  Know how much your lunch boxes, containers and thermos hold.  I have found although my salad looks small in the lunch box, when I empty it onto a plate at lunchtime, it's really big!  Follow this link for more information on on Portion Sizes.

3.  Make sure you add ingredients you need to your shopping list so everything is there when you need it.

4.  Prepare some basic provisions to make a healthy, interesting and tasty meal.  I love to roast a tray or two of vegetables over the weekend and store them in the fridge for our lunches.  I usually try and vary it each week, depending what's in season,  but among my favourites are pumpkin, eggplant, capsicum and beetroot.  Click here if you need instructions on roasting vegetables.

5.  Soups can be very welcome in the cooler months.  I cook up a large pot of my favourite homemade soup over the weekend so it's ready to go.  You can add a small fresh bread roll if you need something more in your tummy.

Preparing a healthy eating lunch box ....

Lunch Box Idea #1 - Mid Morning Snack

I usually pack a home made organic trail mix or 1/4 cup mixed nuts with my small cafe latte (my special treat!) from my favourite coffee shop - both consumed mindfully, of course!  It sees me through until lunchtime.

Lunch Box Idea #2 - Lunch

This usually consists of left overs from last nights dinner, a salad, or soup.  

1.  Left overs are the simplest option.  We usually pack up left over meals the night before when we're clearing away so we can just grab them and go.

2.  If you've prepared soup, try heating it up in a saucepan on the stove and store it in a small  pre-warmed thermos until lunch time.  This saves using the microwave (if you're lucky enough to have access to one) and preserves the nutritional value.

3.  Yes I know, I promised no 'rabbit food'... and salad = 'rabbit food'!  My husband and I honestly prefer our salads to going out at lunch time - it really does depends on what you put in them, so please give it a go.  It doesn't take much to create variety and interest - maybe even 'theme' your salads.  A greek salad one day when you have roast meat left over, perhaps a green salad another day.  This is a lot more interesting than the same salad 5 days a week.  As a basic starter, look to include the following for a satisfying meal:

  • Vary and mix your favourite greens (lettuce, spinach, rocket) and add some sprouts or shoots.  I'm really loving the sunflower sprouts and pea shoots at the moment :)
  • Include some pre-prepared roasted vegetables and perhaps mushrooms, carrot or tomato.
  • It's important to include a good source of protein.  I like to use left over meats where I can.  Baked Salmon fillets in a garlic, ginger and soy marinade always do well (see photo) as do left over roast meats.  If I don't have any pre-prepared meats, I will either just pack a boiled egg or my husband prefers a small can of tuna or mackerel.
  • As a little luxury I will add either a little feta or a slice of our favourite brie.

4.  Finish off lunch with a seasonal fruit that you enjoy and perhaps a tablespoon or two of good quality yoghurt (preferably kefir yoghurt or greek yoghurt).

For a little inspiration check out these lunch box recipes and more!

Lunch Box Idea #3 - Mid Afternoon Snack

To keep away '3.30-itis'  try another serve of fruit.  If you really need a chocolate fix, do yourself a favour and include a quality block of chocolate with a minimum 70% cacao on your shopping list.  I prefer the 85%, but it can take a bit of getting used to.  No! we're not going to eat it all at once, we're going to ration it out - just a couple of squares a few times a week :).  

Most importantly, do remember to eat it slowly and mindfully!  Remember we said we're not dieting or missing out, just learning to make better choices.

Happy Healthy Eating!