Healthy lunches can be hard to come by. You won’t find wholesome foods at a fast food joint or supermarket deli counter. Or be able to relax while snacking in front of your computer. Here are a few healthy lunch ideas to get you started.
One third of our life is spent at work and every third meal is eaten there – typically lunch. Yet it is rarely a good, healthy, or sustainable repast. A common complaint centers around how hard it is to come by healthy lunch options in the modern workplace.
Our short lunch break leads us to make bad decisions: too little time means we take whatever’s closest. This leads us down a typically unhealthy path: readymade snacks from the supermarket, or junk food like burgers, hot dogs, or pizza.
Here are five tips on how to prepare a healthy lunch and improve the overall quality of your lunch break.
1. Healthy Lunch: Make To-Go a No-No
The key to a more sustainable lunch break is avoiding the prepackaged snack trap, meaning anything from the supermarket packed in disposables like aluminum or plastic intended for immediate consumption. Cut fruit in plastic containers and premixed salads in their own bowls are just two bad examples. Store-cut fruit, bagged salads, and aging sushi rolls should also be avoided – because they are more likely to cause food poisoning and because they usually contain less nutrients.
Pay attention not only to the snack itself, but also to the packaging it comes in: Less is more. That means, a sandwich wrapped in paper is typically more sustainable than cut fruit in a plastic container. Instead of ordering your next coffee to go, why not take a seat in the cafe and enjoy your break in peace?
Even better: Pack your own snacks to go in reusable containers.
2. Prepare a Healthy Lunch at Home and Beat the Lunchtime Rush
You’ve been there: It’s not even noon and half of your colleagues are already on their way out the door in the hopes of beating the lunchtime rush. How does avoiding this mad dash and getting to eat a healthy lunch sound? Take your time to prepare your lunch at your own pace in the morning and save yourself pointless time waiting in line in the afternoon, cut out the stress of on-the-spot mealtime decision-making and gain back the freedom to eat when and wherever you want.
Make it even easier for yourself – take in leftovers from the weekend and play your part in combatting unnecessary food waste. Go the extra mile and put vegetable scraps from your weekend or weekday meals back on your plate. Find out how in our guide on how to reuse vegetable scraps. Recipes such as lettuce stalk salad dressing, vegetable chips or veggie smoothies are so simple you can make tomorrow’s healthy lunch right alongside your evening’s main course.
3. Who Needs a Lunch Box When You Have a Jar?
Canning jars make great containers for your lunch salad. In winter, try chicory or blanched cabbage leaves with apple; in summer, tomatoes, carrots, and kohlrabi. You can also mix homemade granola with fruit and yogurt; just give it a shake and it’s ready to eat. Need an additional quick snack for throughout the day? Try our homemade granola bars recipe. Other ideas:
- Raw veggie sticks have no trouble staying fresh till lunchtime. If raw foods are too hard to digest, you can steam or fry almost anything – cooking will even improve the flavor of certain vegetables. Cooked vegetables will also keep until lunch without a problem.
- Jars are ideal for summer fruits and berries. But beware: fruit alone will not keep you full long. Fruit comprises just one element of a balanced lunch.
- Salads: tomatoes and mozzarella, hummus and veggies – there are plenty of dishes best enjoyed cold that can fit in a jar.
- Legumes: lentils, beans, chickpeas, and other legumes are a compact source of protein to keep your midday hunger in check.
Each season, different fruits and vegetables are available regionally, ensuring a wide variety in your diet. Before buying new, find canning jars at rummage sales or secondhand shops; you can also just reuse any large glass jars passing through your kitchen as packaging for other foods.
4. Don’t Waste Your Break at Your Desk
Of course it sounds like a more efficient use of time – review or edit something quickly or even read Utopia articles while noshing your lunch in front of your computer. But it’s not as sensible as it seems: your eyes need a break, too! And when we read and eat, we’re not consuming our food consciously, making us more likely to overeat while distracted.
So in the end, it’s better to hit the break room and chat with colleagues or find a sunny spot outside the office for those few minutes of freedom.
5. To Give Your Mind a Rest, Activate Your Body
Without a doubt, those who do physical labor all day need physical rest in order to recover. But desk jockeys who spend their entire day in the same seated position are more likely to need a break from all that sitting – ergo exercise. So use your break to take a long walk, with a sandwich pause on a bench at the halfway mark.
6. Happy and Healthy Lunch Breaks: Sneak in a Midday Nap
Today we require every minute to be productive lest it be wasted, listening to informative podcasts or learning foreign languages while munching. Yet even the direct opposite can be just as useful for productivity: the chided midday siesta. You can sneak a quick nap in the break room or a park bench. “Nap” here is defined broadly: doing nothing for twenty minutes beyond simply existing – there’s perhaps nothing more relaxing than that.
It’s clear that every tip cannot be integrated into every schedule – but even a small improvement or two can elevate us beyond quickie burgers and fountain sodas, no?
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This article was translated from German by Hilary. You can view the original here: Mittagspause: 12 Tipps für gesünderes Essen am Mittag.affiliate links: If you buy here, you actively support Utopia.org because we get a small portion of the proceeds.
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