21 NovHow to pack a Healthy Lunch Box

We spend around 8 hours a day at work, and often eat more than half of our meals and snacks in the workplace. So what you eat at work can really impact your overall nutrition and health! See the tips below for navigating a healthier lunch.

Vegetables
90% of Australians don’t get their 5 serves of vegetables in, which can easily happen if you only have vegetables at dinner time. Aim to have half of your lunch based on veggies, whether it’s sandwiches, salads or leftovers, it all counts!

Protein
Including a quality protein is important to satisfy hunger. Chicken, canned tuna, legumes or eggs are great choices. Try to steer clear of deli meats like ham that are high in saturated fats and salts.

Quality carbs
Provide long lasting energy and extra fibre. Always chose wholegrain breads and wraps, and brown rice, quinoa, potato, and other whole grains are all good choices for bulking out salads or adding to leftovers.

Healthy fats
These could be avocado, nuts, seeds, cheese or some olive oil. Try adding avocado to your sandwich or some nuts into your salad.

Snacks
Snacks are also important to fuel you over the day. But what’s best to take into the office? Fruit and a handful of nuts make great individual snacks. You can also consider yoghurt, veggie sticks with dip, a slice of toast with avocado. Keep in mind the practicalities of your job – if you don’t get long snack breaks, things that are simple and can be eaten quickly with no mess (like a banana or a natural nut bar) are great options.

Storage
Setting yourself up with a few key containers and appropriate storage can make a world of difference to your lunch time preparations. Make sure you have some washable, leak proof containers of different sizes to pack chopped fruit, yoghurt, leftovers, soups and salads. Portion size matters; don’t put pasta in a salad container or you’ll end up doubling your calories. Multiple small containers can be used to keep wet and dry ingredients separate until lunch time (if you want to keep salad dressing separate for example). Also don’t forget a cooler bag in the hotter weather if you don’t have access to a fridge at work.

On the go options
Sometimes it just isn’t feasible to take in a packed lunch. If you do need to purchase you lunch, look for something that is based on vegetables, includes a lean protein and doesn’t contain excess dressings and sauces. A useful resource can be found here: https://baker.edu.au/-/media/documents/fact-sheets/baker-institute-factsheet-eating-out.pdf

Louise Cato- Accredited Practising Dietitian