Forget making excuses. I’ve grilled my fitness buff friends for these 10 tips on packing a healthy lunch to work – including my own. These pointers are tried and tested by the laziest (ie. Me) – so hopefully you’ll find this combination of a perspective change, and practical advice, helpful.
#1 START WITH YOUR MINDSET
I won’t lie, it does take a level of commitment to do this. I have gone through the rollercoaster of being super healthy and then sliding off the bandwagon after weeks go by, feeling guilty, then climbing up the slope again. One day, my sports coach said to me: It’s not easy being healthy. There are sacrifices you have to make. Recognise that something has to change.
A lot of us expect it to be easy. It’s not. Saying no to convenient but unhealthy food is hard. When you recognise that, you steel yourself for the difficulty, then you won’t be put off by the work you have to put in. Of course there are ways to make it easier. So read on.
#2 MAKE TIME ON SUNDAY
You know how you commit to a gym class three times a week? Commit to prepping for your week’s lunches on Sunday too. Depending on what you’re making, you might only need 30 to 45 minutes altogether – for 5 days worth of food, I don’t think it’s very much at all.
#3 COOK ENOUGH BROWN RICE, QUINOA OR BUCKWHEAT FOR THE WEEK
These are healthier and more nutritious alternatives to starchy white rice, which is the culprit behind that 3pm post-lunch sleepiness. Simply spoon out one portion per day for lunch and keep the rest in the fridge. Then go get a selection of vegetables and meat at the coffeeshop or hawker centre. Using your own container also helps the environment since you’re producing less waste! This is one of the easiest ways to begin improving your eating habits.
#4 COOK EXTRA FOR DINNER AND PACK LEFTOVERS
If you love whipping up healthy creations for dinner, then why not make extra so you can take them to work the next day? You’re already cooking anyway!
#5 SOUP FOR THE WIN
A hearty soup is one of the easiest things to cook. Chop lots of stuff up, throw it in a big pot, together with water or a healthy stock, leave it to simmer, and your lunch is settled for the week. Take along some multigrain buns too and slather them with good, organic grass-fed butter. Yes, butter’s healthy reputation is making a comeback. This also brings me to the next point…
#6 INVEST IN A SOUP-CREATING GADGET
They are basically variations of a blender that also heats up the ingredients. All you have to do is chop up your ingredients (save time and do it roughly, no one’s judging the presentation of your lunch), add your desired liquid (whether it’s milk, water or stock), throw it in the device then hit a button. Presto, a hot soup is ready in 30 minutes or so. Super worthy investment, trust me.
#7 CREATE YOUR OWN SALAD BAR IN YOUR FRIDGE
Spend some time on kick-starting a salad bar system in your fridge. Buy a few clear containers and start putting chopped-up vegetables in them (do this every Sunday!). Then, in the morning, all you have to do is grab whatever you want and throw it into your tupperware. You can rotate the vegetables on a weekly basis so there’s always variety. Leave things like canned tuna, chia seeds or mixed nuts and dried fruits in the office – there’s less you’ll have to carry and you can add toppings as and when you like.
#8 PREPARE SOBA THE NIGHT BEFORE
Um, they’re delicious, springy noodles that are cooked in four minutes – and can be eaten cold. They’re the perfect, lazy-person healthy lunch. Remember that canned tuna you’ve got stored in your drawer? Yep. You can also pair it with a box of fresh salmon sashimi from the supermarket.
#9 INVEST IN FANCY CONTAINERS
Mason jars. They’re very pretty, and, aesthetics aside, large mason bottles actually make taking salads to work really easy. If you layer your ingredients right, you can pre-pack all five days’ worth of healthy lunches, ready for grabbing and going in the morning. Yes, they do stay fresh. Basically the dressing and heavier ingredients go on the bottom and things like your lettuce leaves go on the top.
Buying the right sized containers for different items also keeps your items fresh and looking appetising. For example, get a box that will fit a sandwich nicely so the ingredients don’t fall out during your morning commute.
#10 KEEP INGREDIENTS TO MAKE MUESLI IN THE OFFICE
Who says you can’t have muesli for lunch? Keep packet of muesli at work (take care to buy those that aren’t full of sugar), together with superfoods like chia seeds, cacao nibs, flax seeds, cinnamon and even extra rolled oats. You can whip up a bowl with milk or soymilk in literally, under 5 minutes. Add fresh fruits (easily available from most coffee shops) or use yoghurt even! All that low-GI fibre will keep you fuller for longer and prevent that post-lunch slump, the superfood toppings will give you the vitamin and mineral oomph you need and you’ll get your protein fix from the yoghurt or milk. Score!
Now I would love to hear from you guys – what are your tips for packing healthy lunches to work?
About the writer:
Ruby Tan used to write for Her World, and is now a freelance writer with a dream to travel the world. She believes that the some of best things in life don’t have to be bought.