We Asked A Nutritionist How To Pack A Healthy Lunch

Expert approved cheap, delicious lunch goals.

Firstly, what even is a healthy lunch? BuzzFeed Life asked Brisbane-based nutritionist Jessica Cox to break it down.

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“The key elements that constitute a healthy lunch are pretty simple. Your lunch meal should ideally contain a combination of macronutrients, which includes complex carbohydrates, protein and essential fats at its core. The dominant portion, or the “star of the meal” should be the vegetable component.”

Here are some examples of ingredients that you can use to make a tasty and healthy lunch:

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Besides the obvious carbohydrates and vegetables, fats include seeds, nuts and dairy cheese, while things like hummus and natural yoghurt are great sources of vegetarian protein.

But we’re all busy these days. Plus, buying lunch out all the time is damn expensive. Here are some hacks that prove making your lunch won’t eat up too much of your downtime.

1. Create a routine that works for you.

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“Set aside that 15 minutes as you are cleaning up dinner at night to get your lunch organised (along with the family’s if needed). You can even use leftover dinner for lunch by simply putting the extra into containers when you clear up,” says Cox.

“If mornings work better for you, plan to give yourself that extra 10 minutes to put something together. We can all do this, it’s just about how we decide to distribute and use our time in the morning.”

2. Aim to include three different vegetables when making your lunch.

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“This will ensure you are getting an array of nutrients and not just relying on the same vegetables every day,” Cox says.

“At the beginning of the week make up a big batch of roast vegetables that you can use as a base for salads or wrap options. Keep your fridge stocked with bags of baby spinach and/or rocket, an easy add on for extra greens.”

~For simple roast veggies, chop into chunky pieces, drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt and roast at 180 degrees celcius until golden brown and tender. Times differ depending on what veggies you’re using.~

3. If you’re time poor, use protein options that do not require much preparation or cooking.

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Cox suggests canned fish, natural yoghurt, quality ham off the bone, legumes, or boiled eggs.

We put some of Cox’s Monday to Friday lunch suggestions to the test, and four out of five can be made in under 10 minutes (using pre-cooked roast veggies).

Monday: Roasted Vegetable Salad With Tuna

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You will need:

Pre-roasted sweet potato
Pre-roasted beetroot
Baby spinach
Tuna (packed in olive oil)
Pumpkin seeds
Feta (optional)
Olive oil and balsamic vinegar, to dress

Directions:
Toss your pre-roasted sweet potato and beetroot (see hack two, above) with a big handful of baby spinach, a can of tuna, and a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic. Throw in some pumpkin seeds for crunch, and crumble over a little feta.

Tuesday: Wholegrain Wrap With Hummus, Smoked Salmon and “Easy Tabouli”

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You will need:

Wholegrain wrap of choice
Hummus
Rocket
Cherry tomatoes
Parsley
Smoked Salmon (or canned for a cheaper option)
Feta


Directions:
Spread your wholegrain wrap with hummus then stuff with a large handful of rocket, cherry tomatoes, parsley, salmon and crumbled feta. For a vegetarian version, you could use tofu.

Wednesday: Rice and Bean Salad With Yoghurt Dressing

Anna Mendoza / BuzzFeed

Anna Mendoza / BuzzFeed

 

You will need:

Brown rice (instant sachets are a quick, easy option)
4 bean mix
Chopped celery
Green beans
Baby spinach
Pumpkin seeds
Natural yoghurt mixed with lemon juice
De-seeded olives (optional)

Directions: Toss all ingredients together in a bowl. Or arrange neatly, whatever takes your fancy. Top with the lemon-yoghurt dressing.

Thursday: Easy Slaw With Ham On Crackers

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You will need:
Carrot
Cabbage
Crackers of choice, such as Ryvita
Ham off the bone
Mayonnaise, dijon mustard, and lemon juice to dress (you can also use natural yoghurt in place of the mayo).


Directions:
Grate a small handful each of carrot and cabbage and stir through the juice of half a lemon, one teaspoon of dijon mustard and a heaped teaspoon of mayo. Place on your crackers and top with ham.

Simple Leftovers Frittata

Anna Mendoza / BuzzFeed

Anna Mendoza / BuzzFeed

 

You will need:
Eggs (around 6-8 depending on the size of your baking dish)
Leftover roast vegetables
Leftover ham or smoked salmon
Baby spinach and/or rocket
Cherry tomatoes
Feta
Anything else that needs using up!

Directions: In a bowl combine your eggs with a good dash of milk and season with salt and pepper. Arrange all your leftovers in a baking dish, then pour over the eggs and cook for around 30 minutes in an oven pre-heated to 180 degrees celcius. This will make around three to four serves.

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