Packing snacks and lunches for work can be a daunting task but learning the right way to pack can be a healthy and budget-friendly habit. Below we go through some helpful tips and tricks to help you fuel your workday and have more control on what you are eating for lunch.
How to Pack a Healthy Lunch in 5 Easy Steps
1. Prepare your lunch the day before
Waking up to make lunch before the workday can add extra stress to an already busy morning. Many people find that prepping lunch the night before and keeping it packed in the fridge overnight helps remove any morning stress and makes it that much more likely that you’ll bring your own lunch. Just wake up, grab, and go, it’s that easy!
2. Follow a basic formula
Coming up with healthy lunch ideas can be a daunting task but there isn’t any reason to overcomplicate things. Following the basic vegetable + protein + carb formula is quick, easy, and ensures that you are getting the necessary food groups for a post-lunch energy boost at work. Using a lunch box with multiple compartments works great as you can have a section for each type of food. A section for vegetables (such as carrot sticks or cherry tomatoes), a section for a protein (such as a hardboiled egg, chicken breast, or a healthy nut butter), and a section for your carbs (such as whole grain crackers, or pita bread). Remember to bring some fruit for dessert! When coming up with some healthy lunch ideas try to limit:
- Processed foods
- Sweets such as candy or chocolate
- Soda, and fruit juices that are high in sugar
Try to make water your drink of choice! Many people find it convenient to carry a reusable water bottle with them to stay hydrated throughout the workday.
3. Have a plan
Choosing a day to plan your lunches for the week can help make prepping and grocery shopping a breeze. A good trick is to plan to make a little extra of each of your weekday dinners and pack the extra leftovers for lunch the next day. Doing this can remove some of the pain of having to plan a dinner and lunch idea for each day of the week.
4. Make your grocery list
Once you have decided on your lunches for the week, start working on your grocery list. Remember to add staple ingredients like olive oil, onions, and garlic. Keep adding to your grocery list as you come up with more lunch ideas; this will ensure that you don’t forget anything while you shop!
Plan to include some snacks with your lunch every day. Bringing snacks to work with you can help prevent you from purchasing less-healthy options while you are hungry and more likely to be tempted.
Snacks to Keep at Work
- Trail mix: make your own with your favourite nuts, seeds, and dried fruit
- Tuna: Look for single serving low-sodium cans or pouches and eat with whole-grain crackers, or a side of veggie sticks
- Apple slices and peanut or almond butter for dipping
- Protein bars: Look for bars that are low in sugar and contain natural ingredients
Healthy Lunch Box Ideas
- Strawberries with greek yogurt and whole-grain english muffins
- Veggie sticks with hummus and whole-grain mini pitas
- Cucumber slices and cherry tomatoes with tuna salad and whole-grain crackers for dipping
Sandwiches can be another great way to incorporate this simple formula in your daily routine. Try mixing and matching your favourite meats, cheeses, and spreads on whole-grain bread to keep things interesting throughout the week.
Looking for Lunch Packing Inspiration?
Packing the same thing over and over again every week can become boring and can leave you feeling uninspired. Try stepping out of your comfort zone and making something new and different for lunch once a week. This could be a great time to try out that new dinner recipe you’ve been eyeing. Making lunches with your kids can also be a great way to keep you motivated and ensure that they are getting all the essential vitamins and nutrients they need.
Packing Healthy Lunches and Snacks for Work
- Easy to prep
- Contain vegetables, a protein, and a carb option
- Not too heavy (to avoid that post-lunch sleepy feeling)
With a little preparation, making healthy lunches can be a convenient, healthy, and budget-friendly habit that should be a part of a daily, stress-free workday routine.
Unlock food. “Packing Healthy Lunches and Snacks for Work.” Unlock Food, 2019, www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Workplace-wellness/Packing-Healthy-Lunches-and-Snacks-for-Work.aspx.
Government of Canada. “Healthy Eating at School .” Canada’s Food Guide, 2021, www.food-guide.canada.ca/en/tips-for-healthy-eating/school.
Healthlink BC. “Meal Planning Getting Started .” Healthlink BC, 2017, www.healthlinkbc.ca/healthy-eating/meal-planning.