Food & Drink Magazine

Healthy Lunch Options

By Emma Whoriskey @whoriskeyemma

Every week I promise myself I’ll take a healthy lunch to work during the week and eat sensibly, and sometimes I do. More often than not though I just grab a soup or sandwich on the go. Usually it’s something carb loaded and contains more calories than I should be eating at lunchtime. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not obsessed with either carbs or calories, but I ain’t getting any younger and the time for (somewhat) sensible eating has arrived.

Never fear, posts containing recipes filled with butter, cream and salt will still feature here. And obviously I wouldn’t post something I hadn’t tasted (that would just be rude) but it did get me thinking that I should write a post of light & healthy lunch options you could take to work. Whilst some of these might seem light, I do usually snack on fruit & nuts at work, and try to get at least 2 litres of water into me so I don’t get hunger pangs during the day and snack on junk (usually, though not always).

Hot Lunch Options

  • Chicken & Veg Stir Fry – you can actually use any meat (turkey, beef, chicken) and whatever veg you fancy or have in your fridge. Usually I use chicken, broccoli, peppers, onions, mushrooms, green beans, carrots and spring onion. Heat a little oil in a pan, add some finely chopped garlic and chilli and some grated ginger. Throw in the chicken and fry for about 5 minutes. Throw in all the veg, leave the mushrooms out until the end. Cook for a further 5 minutes and while it’s cooking mix the same quantity of soy sauce and white wine together with about a teaspoon of cornflour. If your making a lot of this, ie for more than one person or serving and you have more than 200ml of liquid increase this to 1 tablespoon. Add this to the stir fry at the end and stir well. It will start to thicken as it heats. Your ready when it’s heated through. If you want a low-carb version of this eat it on it’s own, if you need the carbs serve with rice or noodles.


  • Frittata – this Spanish omelet is typically made with onions and potatoes. However, if you would like a more carb free option substitute them for loads of veggies and cheese. You could make a large frittata and allow it to cool, slice it into wedges and bring one wedge to work every day. Have with a little side salad, and again if your not so carb conscious, some nice bread. Some of my favorite options for you to consider are: pea, mint and goats cheese or peppers, cheddar and potato. Essentially you can put whatever you like in here. Whisk eggs, a little butter, splash of water, some salt & pepper together, add in whatever veggies and cheese your using and pour into a hot pan with some oil. I pop mine under the grill to finish off. You could let it cool in the pan, wrap in cling film and keep in the fridge for at least a couple of days. Without carbs, protein based eggs and cheese are great at keeping you feel full for longer.

Soup Options

I’ve posted before many times about soup, it’s one of my favorite meals. Great for getting loads of veggies in and can be really filling and comforting. Two lovely options for you to try are:

  • Roasted cauliflower soup – put 400g of cauliflower into a roasting dish along with one white onion, cut in wedges and one small potato cut into cubes. Add 4 bruised garlic cloves to the pan. Sprinkle with a little oil and pop into a 200C oven for around 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, squeeze the garlic out of their skins and out the whole lot into a blender along with 500ml of chicken or veg stock. Blend until smooth. Beautiful served with some crisp pancetta on top or some cheesy croutons.

Cauliflower Soup

  • Mexican Bean Soup – fry a finely diced red onion and chilli in a little oil. Add a finely chopped carrot and celery and cook for about 5 minutes. Add a tin of mixed beans (whatever your favorite is) or a tin of chickpeas along with a jar of passata and about 250ml of chicken stock and simmer until the veggies are cooked through. Finish with a little finely chopped parsley.

Salad Days

I’ve often just thrown the contents of my salad drawer together with some leftover roast chicken or ham and it’s sufficed perfectly as lunch. But if your looking for little inspiration for salads at lunchtime, here are a couple I suggest:

  • Asian Chicken Salad – this will make enough salad for two portions. Slice two chicken breasts and add to 2 tbsp of honey, 1 tbsp rice vinegar and 1 tbsp of soy sauce. Leave for about 30 minutes. Heat a little oil in a frying pan and cook the chicken with marinade for about 5 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Finely chop two gem lettuces, grate two carrots and shred a couple of spring onions. Peel, half and deseed a cucumber and cut into matchsticks. Let the chicken and marinade cool and toss together to serve (you could also serve this warm straight away). If your taking it to work the next day, I would put the salad and chicken into separate lunchboxes and combine at the last minute. That way the salad doesn’t get soggy in the marinade. If you’ve a microwave at work you could also heat the chicken before tossing it together. Add a spoonful of sesame seeds if you have them for added crunch.

Cobb Salad

  • Chicken Cobb Salad – this is such a lovely bright salad. Looking at it just makes you want to dive right in. You’ll need 1 baby gem lettuce cut into quarters, half an avocado sliced and 1 plum tomato cut into quarters. Hard boil an egg, and fry 2 slices of pancetta or rashers. If you have some leftover roast chicken serve this also or you could fry off one chicken breast to go with it. This salad needs a dressing, however calorie conscious you are! For a lovely ranch style dressing add 75ml of buttermilk to 2 tablespoon of light mayo, 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon of chopped dill and half a clove of crushed garlic. Combine in a bowl and stir well. Drizzle a little over your salad just before you eat.

Less Carb Conscious Options

For those a little less carb conscious, but still looking  for a healthy homemade lunch you can bring to work, try these options:

  • Homemade Pot Noodle – put 100g of frozen peas into a bowl with a splash of hot water. Cover and pop into the microwave for about 3 minutes. Allow to cool. You’ll need a tub similar to a shop bought pot noodle one, add one nest of noodles to this along with some finely chopped chestnut mushrooms and the cooled peas. Combine half tsp of cornflour with 1 tsp of curry powder and tip this into the pot. Make a paste out of 1/4 onion, 1 small clove of garlic (crushed) and about 1 cm of ginger (finely grated) and add to the pot. Pop a lid on and when your ready to eat, pour over enough boiling water to cover, leave for 5-6 minutes and eat! I originally saw this on River Cottage and as a pot noodle lover, I knew I had to try it. I have several times, and slightly adapted it, and absolutely love it. And it’s definitely better for you than the shop bought version.

Club Sambo

  • Club Sandwich – this is a great option, again especially if you have some leftover chicken and ham, but if not you can always just buy some nice sliced turkey or chicken and ham. Toast three slices of bread, and allow to cool standing up. Wrap in some tin foil and wrap. In a lunch box add your chicken and ham, some salad leaves and a sliced tomato. I would usually slice the tomato at work, but if you can’t wrap a sliced tomato in some cling film before placing it in your lunchbox. Put a little mayo into a small jar and your good to go. Some people like onion and hard boiled egg on their club sambo, that’s no problem, just add whatever you like to your lunchbox. Assemble when your ready to eat!

I hope this has given you some inspiration for work-day lunches! Enjoy!

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

Paperblog Hot Topics