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Seven ways to eat more wholesome lunches

Readymade food is super-convenient when you’re in a rush at lunchtime, but with a little pre-planning, a homemade lunch can be an easy and delicious option, too. It’s also a great chance to pack in plenty of wholesome ingredients that will help you keep going through the afternoon.

  1. Go with the grain

    Packed with fibre, protein and vitamins, grains will keep you feeling full and energised. Cooked quinoa, bulgur wheat and freekeh add a delicious nutty flavour and texture to salads, while barley and brown rice are great for giving soups more bite. For a quick lunch idea, simply mix a handful of your favourite cooked grains with some shredded roast chicken and seasonal greens. Adding fresh herbs, spices and dressings are an easy way to add even more flavour to a grain-based salad, such as with this herby Turkish salad with citrus dressing.

    Go with the grain
  2. Build your own

    A simple jar is ideal for transporting delicious lunches to work. These pesto salad pots, which layer up fresh pesto with plenty of roasted veg and fresh salad, are just the ticket.

    To avoid a soggy lunch, keep wet and dry ingredients separate until you’re ready to serve. For this homemade ramen, simply put a spoonful of miso paste in the bottom of the jar and top with cooked noodles, sliced vegetables and herbs. Come lunchtime, simply add boiling water and stir. You can even add half a boiled egg for some extra protein, if you like.

    Build your own
  3. Choose healthy snacks

    To avoid filling up on the office biscuits, prepare some healthy snacks that you can graze on throughout the day. Homemade fruit and vegetable crisps are simple to make and have a satisfying crunch. We love baked slices of pear, crunchy kale chips or slices of courgette drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and roasted until crisp.

    Choose healthy snacks
  4. Try a Scandi staple

    Try changing up your usual sandwich by stealing some inspiration from Scandi cooking. Often using rye bread as the base, the Scandinavians favour simple open sandwiches with pickles and smoked fish for plenty of flavour, fibre and protein. Try topping a slice of rye bread with smoked salmon, mackerel or hard-boiled egg and a scattering of pickled vegetables. 

    Try a Scandi staple
  5. Superb swaps

    Courgetti has become a popular substitute for spaghetti, and is a great way of making dishes lighter and more nutritious. But did you know you can spiralise other fruits and vegetables, too? Spiralised apple and melon make a delicious, refreshing snack, while cucumber or carrot add crunch to salads. Or try it hot with sweet potato or beetroot noodles in stir-fries and pasta dishes. 

    Superb swaps
  6. Love your leftovers

    Save time by cooking up large batches of your favourite healthy meals so that you can enjoy them for lunch the following day. Many dishes such as stews and curries actually taste better if left overnight. You can also refresh pasta dishes with fresh herbs and seeds, or try adding shredded lettuce to stir-fries to add crunch.

    Love your leftovers
  7. Be prepared

    Make those ‘al desko’ lunches a lot more satisfying by keeping a carefully curated selection of finishing touches at your desk. Extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard and soy sauce all store well and can be used to pep up salads, sandwiches and stir-fries. Toasted seeds and nuts can also be added to soups and salads, while ground spices and dried herbs will add flavour without the calories. 

    Be prepared