Healthy work lunch ideas for every situation

Lunch is the most important meal of the day, even more than breakfast. Allow me to explain my reasoning.

Lunch is the meal most likely to get screwed up if you work a 9 – 5 job, and therefore deserves a little bit more attention than breakfast. You can make healthy breakfasts and dinners at home, but lunch can devolve into a fast food frenzy if you don’t plan ahead.

If you eat five unhealthy lunches at work from Monday to Friday, that’s over 15% of your weekly diet filled with food that will push you further from your goals.

Below are some easy options for eating healthy lunches at work which I’ve personally tried. I currently cook in bulk each Sunday, which may not suit everyone, so I’ve included options for buying somewhat healthy lunches at supermarkets, and emergency options if you *have* to buy lunch in a food court.

Skip ahead

Cooking at home

Stir fry

If you have a spare 30 minutes the night before work, one of the easiest healthy lunch ideas for the next day is a stir fry. If you’re lazy like me, many supermarkets these days even have pre-cut and washed vegetable packets.

I’ll usually buy two or three of these packets, some grass-fed beef cut into stir fry strips, and a healthy sauce.

A great sauce option I’ve been using is Pete Evans’ simmer sauce range, which doesn’t have any artificial ingredients, although it’s a little expensive. My top choices are the Jamaican and Moroccan sauces. Consider yourself warned though: these sauces are pretty spicy. Alternatively you can make your own healthy sauce.

To make the stir fry I simply heat up two frying pans. In one I cook the beef on medium until the meat is sealed, and in the other I cook up the vegetables. When the beef is sealed I’ll drop it into the vegetable pan, and then pour in the sauce. I’ll then turn the heat down to low and let the sauce simmer for about 8 or so minutes.

This will make you three standard-sized meals and costs about $10 per serve if you use the Pete Evans’ Simmer Sauce ($5), Cleaver’s stir fry beef (approx. $12 for 500 grams) and two packets of vegetables from Coles ($10).

This is obviously a tad expensive due to the convenience and quality of some of the ingredients. You could substitute all the ingredients for cheaper options if you didn’t mind making your own sauce, cutting and washing your own vegetables and getting regular grain-fed beef.

Stir Fry Ingredients

Cook meals in bulk

The easiest way I’ve found to stick to healthy lunches is to remove the decision-making associated with it and just pre-cook a bunch of meals in advance.

At Coles I’ll buy:

  • 1 kg of free-range chicken breast
  • 4 grass-fed meat patties
  • 3.5 kg of sweet potato
  • Several bags of chopped and washed kale / 3 – 4 large broccoli heads

To cook the chicken and meat patties I’ll fire up my Weber Q and cook everything on low for 5 minutes each side.

For the sweet potato I’ll cut it into smallish slices and put it in the oven at about 220 degrees for an hour.

One way to motivate yourself to actually do this is make it fun or entertaining. I usually do it at the same time every Sunday morning while listening to a podcast. That way I kill two birds with one stone: I catch up on my podcasts, and get my lunch for the week prepared.

Food subscription services and pre-cooked meals

Another option for eating home-cooked lunches is to subscribe to a service like Marley Spoon or Hello Fresh, and then cook the meals the night before and bring them in for lunch. There are also pre-made meal services like Youfoodz which are even more convenient.

This gives you less control over what you’re actually eating though, so you should apply your usual criteria and pick options within your diet rules.

For example, I try to eat as many vegetables as I can, while eating as little sugar, grain, white potato and artificial ingredients as possible. If I were picking meals I would stay away from choices which include chips, sugary sauces, mash, crumbed meats, pasta and pastry. If I’m going to eat these types of foods I’ll save them for a cheat meal and get the real deal.

Quick supermarket lunches

Supermarket chicken with bag of greens, carrot, cherry tomato, avocado and extra virgin olive oil

The humble Coles or Woolworths roasted chicken is a good option if you’re in a rush and you want a healthy lunch. The best part about it is that you’ll have leftover chicken to eat later. For the vegetable portion of the meal, most supermarkets, especially those in city centres, will have pre-washed leafy greens.

My go-to meal if I’ve forgotten my lunch is a roasted chicken and a 200g bag of washed spinach, some avocado, a tomato and a chopped carrot.

If you’re also after some more carbs to add to this meal, and have access to a microwave, you can easily cook a sweet potato in it in about five minutes.

Pre-cooked Thr1ve / Pete Evans’ meals

Another easy but more expensive option is to buy pre-cooked meals from certain supermarket stores. Some Woolworths stores for example will stock Pete Evans’ Healthy Everyday meals and Thr1ve meals.

You can read some of my reviews of these meals below:

Overall some of them can be tasty and don’t require preparation. They can also be used sparingly to break up your own pre-cooked meals.

Healthy Everyday with Pete Evans Coottage Pie Review Box
Pete Evans’ Healthy Everyday meal
Healthy Everyday with Pete Evans Coottage Pie Review ready to eat

Healthy cafe lunches

Eating healthy at most cafes and even pubs is actually quite easy. Just ask for healthy meals you would usually eat at home.

Choices can include:

  • Salad stuffed with vegetables and healthy fats like avocado with some grilled chicken
  • Steak with some vegetables on the side
  • Grilled barramundi with vegetables

You won’t get to choose the oils the meal is cooked in which is a downside compared to home cooking, but if you pick a salad you’ll be able to specify the dressing. Ensure you pick a healthy oil such as extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil.

A healthy meal I recently ordered at a regular pub in Sydney.

If you live in Sydney I’ve written a guide on some healthy cafes and restaurants to consider.

Emergency takeaway lunches

These lunches should be eaten very sparingly and only in dire circumstances. Because they’re takeaway options, you’ll have the least amount of control over the components in the meal, including oils and cooking methods, so it’s hard to classify them as healthy.

My go-to “healthy” lunch ideas from takeaway vendors in Australia include:

Grill’d Superfood Salad

Grill’d use grass-fed beef and lamb, and its salads are dressed in extra virgin olive oil. It offers sides including sweet potato and zucchini fries, although these are deep fried in sunflower, cottonseed and canola oil which I try to stay away from. The nutritional breakdown for the Superfood Salad pictured below is:

Serving sizeProteinFatSaturated FatSugarsSodium
300g30g37g6g9.4g224g
Grilld Salad
The Grill’d Superpower Salad

Grill’d low carb burger (depends on filling)

If I really want a burger, Grill’d has a great low carb burger bun (it’s more like pita-bread) that you can order. Just be careful about what fillings you get, which will make or break the healthiness of this meal.

Here’s the nutritional breakdown for the low carb bun with the Wagyu Wunder filling:

Serving sizeProteinFatSaturated FatCarbohydratesSugarsSodium
261g33.3g61.5g18.5g12.9g7.7g889g

Guzman Y Gomez Salad

If you’re after vegetables and meat, you can do worse that a Guzman Y Gomez salad. My go-to is the grilled steak. This meal has a nutritional breakdown of:

Serving sizeProteinFatSaturated FatCarbohydratesSugarsSodium
335g30.5g6.4g2.8g12g5.1g668g
Guzman y Gomez salad with grilled steak

Do you have a good work lunch idea? Drop it down below and I’ll add it to the list.

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