Taking your own lunch to work can feel like a hassle. You need to plan it in advance, get out of bed earlier to prepare it – and after all that, you might leave it sitting on the kitchen bench all day!
But there are plenty of benefits to preparing your own lunch at home. When you take your lunch to work, you know exactly what’s in it, rather than risking a whole bunch of hidden sugar, oil and salt in a meal at a cafe or restaurant.
This is especially useful if you’re training for an event or following a healthy eating plan, and need to keep a close eye on your nutrients or kilojoule count.
It’s also a great way to save money. If you usually spend $10-$15 a day on lunch at work, you could save up to $300 a month by taking your own. You could even set yourself a goal to keep you motivated. For example, if you can go a fortnight without buying lunch at work, you might decide reward yourself with a nice new pair of running shoes.
To help you get started, here are some easy work lunches to try. All of these recipes are easy to put together and easy to transport. And they all work especially well if you make a big portion on a Sunday evening and keep five servings in the fridge or freezer all week.
“These lunch ideas all work especially well if you make a big portion on a Sunday evening and keep five servings in the fridge or freezer all week.”
Quiche is a fantastic breakfast, lunch, or dinner meal that you can throw just about anything into. Most veggies work well, but some of our favourites are broccolini, eggplant, sweet potato, capsicum and baby spinach.
You can also try adding some bacon or other cured meat, or some nice goat’s cheese. Make a big tray to keep in the fridge all week and eat it hot or cold.
2. Dahl and coconut rice
Dahl is made from lentils or beans, and it’s an excellent source of protein, plus it contains a good amount of fibre. It’s also low in fat and a tasty, filling alternative to meat-based dishes.
Forget boring plain rice – pair it with some delicious coconut rice instead. It’s really easy to make – just add reduced fat coconut milk to your rice cooker or saucepan instead of water.
3. Protein-packed salads
Salads can get boring, but it’s super easy to prepare one yourself that you’ll look forward to digging in to. Especially if you’re following an exercise regime, a protein packed salad will leave you feeling satisfied without feeling weighed down.
Your protein doesn’t have to be meat-based either – try beans, lentils, chickpeas, nuts, grilled tofu or sautéed mushrooms for delicious and filling vegetarian options.
Soup is traditionally reserved for colder months, but don’t be afraid to whip up a tasty gazpacho in the spring or summer. There are plenty of recipes out there for both hot and cold varieties, and you can pack them full of delicious vegetables – check out our soup guide for inspiration.
If you work near a bakery, you could even treat yourself to a fresh bread roll on the side.
Break out the slow cooker – this is the one of the tastiest lunches you can prepare. It’s also super easy. Just throw everything into your slow cooker, and leave it for eight hours while you go and enjoy your Sunday. Use your favourite kind of meat, or swap it out for a vegetarian option, like beans, lentils, quinoa or even pumpkin.
Chili makes it easy to pack a whole bunch of vegetables into a serving, as well as plenty of spices. Capsaicin, the ‘hot’ part of the chili, is thought to promote metabolic and vascular health, and also works well as a natural decongestant – perfect for helping you get over winter colds, and making it easier to get out there and exercise.
You could get discounted Corporate Health Cover through your work. Find out more.