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Healthy, Tasty and Simple Lunchbox Ideas

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By Jessica Andersson

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Why bother bringing a packed lunch to work or school? Loads of reasons! You save money, you’re in control of what you or your kids are eating, and you can make sure you’re getting a well-balanced, correctly portioned meal.

Here are some of my tips and ideas for healthy, tasty lunchboxes…

What makes a packed lunch healthy?

For both adults and children, you want to include a combination of starchy carbohydrates or whole grains, protein, fruit and vegetables and dairy (or dairy alternatives).

High fiber whole grains will keep you full for longer, sustaining your energy levels avoiding that afternoon slump!

Find the perfect lunchbox for you – Jessica’s favourite 5 healthy lunch recipes

1. The quick throw-together one… 

Salmon and avocado on rye bread, with a yoghurt and blueberry dessert

packed lunch with salmon and avocadoIngredients:
  • Rye bread
  • 1/2 an avocado, mashed
  • A few slices of smoked salmon
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds
  • A few sprigs of fresh dill
  • 1/4 cucumber, sliced
For dessert:
  • A few handfuls of blueberries
  • A small pot of plain Greek yoghurt
  • 1 tsp honey

2: The health-conscious one…

Kale and tuna salad, with a natural yoghurt dessert topped with mixed berries, seeds and grated dark chocolate

healthy lunch with kale and tuna saladIngredients:
  • 1 tuna can
  • 2 handful of kale, roughly chopped
  • 50g cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 apple, diced
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1 celery stick, finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
For dessert:
  • A few handfuls of mixed berries
  • A small pot of plain Greek yoghurt
  • A handful of mixed seeds
  • 4 squares of dark chocolate, grated

3: The lunchbox of champions (one for those sporty-types)… 

Mexican-style chicken salad, with banana bread for dessert

lunch box with chicken saladIngredients
  • 80g cooked brown rice
  • 80g shredded chicken
  • 2 spring onions, chopped
  • 1/2 tin of pinto beans
  • 2 tbsp coriander, chopped
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1/2 chilli, chopped
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 tbsp sour cream
Method:

1: Mash the avocado until it’s smooth, then stir in the sour cream, lime juice and chopped coriander.

2: Mix all the other ingredients together in a bowl, and season to taste.


4: The kids one…

Ham and cream cheese tortilla wheels, with fruit sticks and a yoghurt dip for dessert

packed lunch with ham and cream cheeseIngredients:
  • Wholemeal seeded tortilla wrap
  • Ham (or turkey) slices
  • Cream cheese
  • A few lettuce leaves
  • 1/2 a cucumber, cut into sticks
  • A handful of cherry tomatoes
For dessert:
  • Low sugar yohgurt
  • A handful of blackberries
  • A handful of strawberries
  • Cocktail sticks

5: The one for active teenagers…

Wholemeal pasta with pesto and mozzarella with a hummus side-dip, and berry yoghurt for dessert

lunch box with pesto pastaIngredients:
  • 80g cooked wholemeal pasta
  • A handful of cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cucumber, cut into sticks
  • 1 carrot, cut into sticks
  • A few tbsps of hummus
For the pesto (blend all the ingredients in a food processor – and hey pesto!):
  • 80g kale
  • 1/2 garlic clove
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 80g pine nuts
  • 70g parmesan or Italian hard cheese
For the dessert:
  • 1 tbsp stewed mixed fruit
  • 1 tsp honey
  • A small pot of Greek yoghurt

7 tips for a healthy lunchbox:

  1. Instead of refined carbohydrates, use whole grains. Brown rice, brown pasta, whole grain bread and bulgur are all good examples.
  2. Don’t make bread or wrap fillings too moist – they become soggy and unappealing quickly, and you may be tempted to look for a less healthy alternative.
  3. Get into the routine of preparing your lunch the night before – that way you’ll be more likely to stick to it.
  4. Cut out foods which are high in sugar and salt.
  5. Plan for the week ahead, and cook in bulk on the weekend. For example, boil up several portions of lentils, or roast a chicken and use the leftovers for your lunches.
  6. Use a cool bag to keep your lunch fresh through the morning.
  7. Drink water instead of fruit juice or soft drinks, which often contain loads of sugar.

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