Lunch can often be the hardest meal of the day to organise, especially if you’re busy organising kids, running around doing life admin during your break, or dining al desko.
But it’s really important to eat a healthy, nutrient-packed lunch every day. It’ll help prevent those arvo slumps and sugar cravings, and stop you heading straight for the fridge the minute you get home.
Today I gave ABC Radio listeners the top five things I swear by that have me dining on a restaurant-quality lunch every day. Now, I’m sharing them with you.
The more colourful vegies you eat, the more important nutrients you’ll be getting in your diet. Did you know we’re supposed to eat five cups of vegetables every single day?How often do you think that happens for you? Just as I thought. So use lunch as an opportunity to get a good whack of them in.
A salad doesn’t necessarily have to be that boring combo of lettuce, tomato and cucumber, so think outside the box! Throw in apple, mandarin – even blueberries. There’s no right or wrong here, so play around.
Try this: head to the produce section and every week grab something you haven’t tried before, then throw it in your lunch. It’s fun coming up with new combinations. One of my favourites is roasting beetroot, pumpkin, squash, sweet potato and zucchini. A bit of raw purple cabbage turns that bad-boy into rainbow salad.
This is what will keep you full for hours and stave off that 3pm head-desk situation. There are loads of options – so give yourself a break from tinned tuna.Some ideas are legumes, chicken, fresh ham off the bone, leftover roast meat, smoked salmon and turkey. You could even cook an extra piece of steak or chicken the night before and chop it up. If you’re a vego, try eggs, edamame, tempeh or tofu, plus some legumes.
I always try to have a few tins of salmon in the cupboard, so even if I’m completely disorganised there’s good-quality protein on-hand that I can quickly throw through my salad.
Avocado and a handful of mixed raw nuts will give you a good dose of healthy fats. The nuts also give the salad a crunchy texture, plus they’re a source of protein. You literally don’t have to do anything with them – just throw them in.Drizzle over a teaspoon of extra-virgin olive oil, a squeeze of lemon/lime juice, season with salt and pepper – BOOM! A delicious dressing containing heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, without the added nasties in store-bought dressings.
- Carbs: They’re not the enemy, peeps. In fact, carbohydrates are a really important part of our diet – the right ones are our body’s main source of fuel.I’m talking quinoa, wholemeal pasta, buckwheat, sweet potato and legumes. To keep things interesting, change up your choice of legumes every week: chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, cannellini beans . . .Mix in some good carbs and you’ll stop that foggy head in the back-end of the day.
- 30-minute kitchen blast
This might seem like a lot to do, but if you spend just half an hour on Sunday arvo in the kitchen, you’ll make life a lot easier during the week. Trust me.I do this every week: cook a batch of brown rice/quinoa/buckwheat, roast a chicken or stick a chunk of meat in the slow-cooker, and bake some vegies. Another great go-to if you’re busy or can’t be bothered is a free-range BBQ chook. Grab it from Woolies and shred it up.
I put it everything in separate plastic containers, so all I have to do while I’m cooking dinner each night is throw each component into a my lunch container, add some other salad ingredients, then stick it in the fridge.
The next morning I just grab and go.
I’m always experimenting with different vegies, herbs and spices – the possibilities are almost endless. One of my faves is sprinkling cinnamon and sea salt on the vegetables before throwing them in the oven.
Okay, now do this for a few weeks and try to tell me you don’t notice a massive difference to your life – and waistline!!
PS – not sure about portion sizes? Here’s a handy guide.
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