Avoid the mid-afternoon slump by eating a lunch that helps to balance blood sugar. The B group of vitamins, magnesium and chromium are important for this, so include some wholegrains like brown rice, quinoa or wholegrain bread and lean meats as well as plenty of leafy greens – watercress, rocket, kale, romaine lettuce are good examples. Combining protein and fibre with carbs will also help to get you through the afternoon.
Top Tips for the middle of the day
Fill up on fibre
Focus on plenty of vegetables and some beans or pulses. This could include a colourful salad or soup.
Watch the Carbs
If you struggle with slumps in the afternoon check you are not overdoing the bread. Instead go for a lighter option – choose a wholegrain wrap instead or ditch the bread altogether and include a couple of oat cakes or rye crispbreads.
Keep the Salt Low
Shop bought sandwiches, soups can be high in salt. Make your own to keep the salt levels down.
Make the most of leftovers
These save time, money and can offer a healthier choice (e.g cold, sliced frittata served with a green salad).
Watch the dressings
Ditch the creamy dressings and dress salads simply with a little balsamic vinegar, lemon juice or olive oil. Other healthy oils for dressings include macadamia nut oil, walnut oil, avocado oil, hemp oil and flaxseed oil.
Try including some oily fish as part of your lunch at least twice a week e.g mackerel salad, canned salmon or sardines or some smoked salmon are easy options and can be served with salad.
Try Quinoa or Wild Rice Salads
Quinoa is a naturally gluten free grain and high in protein and minerals such as calcium and magnesium. Cook up a batch and add a variety of prepared vegetables with some protein to make a healthy salad.
Make your own vegetable and bean soup. Keep the saturated fat down by using a tomato based stock rather than cream or cheese. Beans and lentils are rich in soluble fibre known to help lower cholesterol and support bowel health.
Easy Egg dishes and Salad
Whether you make an omelette or fancy some poached eggs they are the perfect option for an energising lunch served with a colourful salad.
Lower Carb Protein Packed Wraps
Keep the carbohydrates low by opting for a wrap instead of a sandwich. Cram it with plenty of lean protein e.g chicken, fish and some leafy greens.
Healthy eating lunch suggestions
Within the following selection of lunches there are some that can be prepared at home in advance to take with you, some that can be part prepped and then finished off on the go and some that can be put together when you’re out and about.
Take a look through the list and see what you like the sound of and then make a plan for when you will try your selected choices so you know what advanced shopping and prepping you’ll need to do. Once you’re in the habit of preparing food in advance it becomes second nature.
As you’re looking through the recipes give some thought to what utensils you might need either at home, in the office or out and about. This might include plates, bowls, cutlery etc, all of which can be plastic or paper (bowls, not cutlery) for ease of use on the move. Think too about Tupperware for transporting food and fridge or cool bag for storage. As above, all of this will become second nature.
The quantities are all guidelines and can be adjusted to taste – add a bit more of what you like or reduce things you’re not so keen on. Experiment with adding or supplementing ingredients that you prefer. You’re looking to develop the healthy eating plan that suits you so it has to work for your taste buds or you won’t be motivated to follow the plan.
Healthy lunch ideas
Turkey wrap with peppers and avocado
Wholemeal pitta bread with hummus and vegetables
Bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomato sandwich
Cous cous salad
Brown rice and mixed bean salad
Lentil salad with feta
Smoked mackerel salad
Tuna nicoise salad
Falafel and hummus wrap
Bulgur wheat salad with chickpeas and feta
Lean steak salad
Chilli lime chicken salad
Falafels with salad
Chickpea, beetroot and feta salad
Quinoa salad with mackerel
Healthy eating: lunch recipes
1. Turkey wrap with peppers and avocado
2 Slices deli turkey
Handful of spinach or rocket
10 Strips chopped red and yellow pepper
1⁄4 avocado, spread as butter
1 Wholemeal wrap
Chop the turkey and peppers
Spread the avocado over the wrap and add the peppers, rocket and turkey
Roll and serve.
Great source of vitamins A, C and E
2. Chicken salad
4 Slices chicken from the deli counter, chopped
Mixed salad leaves
1 teaspoon olive oil
Squeeze of lemon juice
1 Slice of granary bread with a thin spread of butter - optional
Chop all ingredients and place in a large bowl.
Mix together the olive oil and lemon juice and pour over the salad.
Serve immediately with a slice of bread.
This recipe includes avocado, which is a good source of healthy fats and vitamin E. Both of these nutrients help in the prevention of heart disease.
3. Wholemeal pitta bread with hummus and vegetables
Slice pittas and vegetables to dip in the hummus
Good source of vitamin A and trace minerals
4. Bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomato sandwich
2 slices grilled bacon
Rocket or baby spinach
1⁄2 tomato, sliced
2 slices granary bread
This sandwich can be made in advance or you can make just the bacon in advance, take with you in a Tupperware and assemble the sandwich in the office or on the go.
Pre-heat the grill to a medium heat, then grill the bacon for 10 minutes or until cooked.
Slice the bread and spread avocado thickly over both slices, like butter.
When the bacon is cooked, place on kitchen paper to drain and cut off any visible fat.
Assemble the sandwich.
Grilled and trimmed bacon is much lower in fat than fried and when combined with high fibre bread and salad makes a tasty lunch.
5. Couscous salad
100g wholegrain couscous
Red and green peppers, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
A little lemon juice
1 cooked chicken breast or chicken pieces chopped or 1⁄2 packet chopped grilled tofu
A little salt and pepper
Cook the couscous according to packet instructions.
Chop the chicken or tofu and vegetables.
Stir into the couscous, together with the lemon juice, salt and pepper.
Using lemon juice gives this dish a fresh, Mediterranean flavour. You could try adding flaked almonds for extra crunch
6. Brown rice and mixed bean salad
Celery stalk, diced
1⁄4 Tomato, diced
1⁄4 Red onion, diced
100g brown rice
Mixed beans: quarter tin, drained
Prepare the rice while chopping the vegetables, then assemble the salad and take with you.
Alternatively, prep the rice the night before, chop the vegetables in the morning and place everything in a Tupperware for the journey.
Or you could chop and take the vegetables and then heat up a packet of brown rice at the office in the microwave.
Great source of fibre and trace minerals
7. Lentil salad with feta
100g of dried or tinned puy lentils
1⁄2 Avocado cut into small cubes
1 tbsp Chopped coriander or parsley
1 Tomato finely chopped
1⁄2 Red pepper cut into small cubes
50g Feta cheese cut into small cubes
Juice of one lemon
1 tbsp Olive oil
Combine the lentils with double volume of water.
Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes or until they are soft.
Rinse with cold water.
Add the rest of the ingredients and mix together.
Pour over the lemon and olive oil.
Good source of protein, potassium, vitamin C, zinc, folic acid, vitamin E, vitamin B3 and B5. Make double the amount of lentils and keep in the freezer
8. Smoked mackerel salad
1 Piece of smoked mackerel
1 tbsp Parsley
1⁄2 Apple cut into small cubes
1 Handful of lettuce
1⁄2 Red pepper cut into small cubes
1 tbsp Olive oil
1⁄2 Avocado cut into small cubes
Juice of 1⁄2 lemon
1 Slice of wholemeal bread with a thin spread of butter
Cut up the mackerel into bite size chunks.
Mix together with the apple, avocado, parsley and red pepper.
Put the lettuce and mackerel mix on a plate.
Mix together the olive oil and lemon then pour over the salad.
Good source of protein, omega 3, vitamin C, zinc, folic acid, vitamin E, vitamin B3 and B5
9. Tuna nicoise salad
200g baby new potatoes
2 x tins tuna
4 medium eggs
100g green beans
1 red pepper, chopped
Cucumber, chopped into chunks
Cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tbsps olive oil
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
Boil the potatoes in a large saucepan for approximately 20 minutes. Place the eggs into the same pan and boil for the last 7 minutes. Add the green beans to the pan for the last 3 minutes. Meanwhile, chop the avocado, red pepper and cucumber and halve the tomatoes. Place all ingredients into a large bowl.
Allow the eggs to cool for a few minutes, then peel and chop each into chunks. Add to the bowl. Pour over the olive oil and balsamic vinegar and mix through gently with salad servers.
This salad is high in protein and healthy fats, making it more satisfying than most salads.
10. Falafel and hummus wrap
1 wholemeal tortilla wrap
3 small falafels (mashed chickpea balls),
1 tbsp of low fat hummus
Handful of spinach
Good source of fibre and folate
11. Bulgur wheat salad with chickpeas and feta
3 tbsp Bulgur wheat,
1⁄2 can of chickpeas
25g feta cheese
5 cherry tomatoes
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp lemon juice
Prepare the bulgur wheat salad as per packet instructions, and then combine in a bowl with other ingredients (all chopped with the exception of the chickpeas and the spinach).
Provides 2/3 of your daily fibre, plus protein, calcium and iron
12. Kale salad
Half an avocado
100g of kale (chopped)
1 tomato (chopped)
30g cucumber (chopped)
15g toasted seeds
½ can chickpeas, drained or 40g feta cheese
Cut up the avocado and add to the kale.
Sprinkle with a little sea salt and using your hands massage in the avocado and salt until the kale softens.
Toss in the vegetables and toasted seeds and top with chickpeas or feta cheese.
Kale is a nutritious leafy green vegetable and makes a delicious filling salad. Assemble and eat immediately, take with you on the go or store in the fridge until needed.
13. Lean steak salad
100g lean beef steak
Pan fry the steak until done to your liking.
Serve with a mixed salad and dress with a simple mustard dressing made by mixing together the olive oil, lemon juice and Dijon mustard to taste.
14. Chilli lime chicken salad
Half a lime
Baby gem lettuce
Handful of pitted olives
Take the chicken and pour over the juice of 1⁄2 lime with a little olive oil and crushed garlic and marinate for 30 minutes.
Grill the chicken for 5-7 minutes on each side until cooked through.
Chop a little gem lettuce and place on a plate, top with handful of cherry tomatoes, the avocado chopped, a handful of pitted olives and sliced cucumber.
Drizzle with lime juice and olive oil to serve.
15. Healthy wrap
A variation on the turkey wrap above with the addition of mixed beans for extra protein.
Fill a wholegrain wrap with some lean cooked chicken breast or a can of mixed beans and top with lettuce, tomato and sliced avocado.
16. Spinach salad
Optional – add chicken, turkey, other meat or tofu
Chop where necessary and mix everything together in a bowl and then serve or decant to transport.
17. Tuna pitta
Fill a wholegrain pitta with 100g can of tuna (drained), lettuce and tomato and a little yogurt or salsa.
18. Falafels with salad
Buy some shop bought falafels and serve with hummus and mixed salad
19. Chickpea, beetroot and feta salad
50g spinach leave
2 handfuls of chickpeas
Lemon juice and olive oil to dress
Put the spinach leaves in a bowl and then chop and add the remaining ingredients.
This is a salad that can be prepared at home or in the office – just be careful with the beetroot!
20. Quinoa salad with mackerel
100g smoked mackerel fillet
100g mixed vegetables, cooked or raw
Salt, pepper and lemon juice to serve
Simmer the quinoa for 15 minutes in water until tender. Drain.
Either serve with whole mackerel fillets or chop the mackerel and mix it in with the vegetables.
Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice to serve.