Healthy and Quick Foods to Have for Lunch

The daily family schedule is so hectic these days, it’s sometimes difficult to avoid rushing the midday meal. We often grab a sandwich, snack or fast food burger and eat on the go, which doesn’t do much for our digestion or our general health.

The key to enjoying a tasty, nutritious and relaxed lunch is to plan ahead and do a little preparation in advance.

Make your own

Sandwiches are always a popular choice for lunch and you can save a fortune if you prepare and make your own rather than picking up ready-made pre packed sandwiches from the supermarket or coffee shop. Pre-packed versions are very often high in saturated fat and salt, so making your own means you can keep an eye on the fat and salt levels.

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Choose a tasty wholegrain or seeded bread as an alternative to processed white bread, which has little nutritional value. Pitta breads and flatbreads are a great choice, too and can be easy to fill for a satisfying lunch. The beauty of making your own sandwich is that you can experiment with fillings to make a really flavoursome combination. If you’re a devoted carnivore, choose lean meats, rather than high fat, processed versions. Add a burst of flavour with a mature cheddar, blue cheese or feta, together with a huge pile of salad or grilled vegetables such as peppers, courgette and onions. For an extra zing, spread a spoonful of lemon mayonnaise or pesto on the bread.

Wholewheat flour tortillas make tasty wraps. Fill with fresh salad leaves, chargrilled chicken and garlic mayonnaise, or stick to a Mexican theme with grilled strips of lean steak marinated in spices, green salad, tomato salsa and guacamole. Children will love these filled with banana and chocolate spread. For a quick weekend lunch, sprinkle a tortilla with grated cheese and lean ham and top with another tortilla, then warm the whole thing through in a dry frying pan to melt the cheese.

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Pasta, rice or bean salads make fantastic packed lunches and are very filling, keeping your energy levels high for a busy afternoon. Add tuna and low fat dressing to wholewheat pasta, or mix brown rice and red kidney beans together with a light dressing for a satisfying snack. Use canned chick peas, cannellini beans and red kidney beans, tossed with some lean chopped bacon, spring onions and vinaigrette dressing. Couscous, with a spoonful of mint jelly, roasted vegetables and some chopped lean chicken breast, makes a tasty and nutritious salad.

Something warm.

For a warming lunch on a cold day, soup or a home-made stew is perfect and can easily be transported to school, college or the office in a wide necked Thermos flask. Make the soup or stew a day in advance so that the flavours improve and intensify. A basic chicken and vegetable soup is a comforting taste of home. Minestrone with lots of lovely fresh vegetables is great for an energy boost, while adding sweetcorn to a creamy chicken soup makes it more filling and adds extra fibre. Spicy root vegetable soups and stews are great for warming up cold tummies, while last night’s chilli or curry leftovers can double up as a tasty lunch.

Yoghurt or low fat fromage frais makes a wholesome dessert. Prepare a fresh fruit salad of your favourite fruits in advance, with a dash of apple juice to keep the colour and top with low fat natural yoghurt. Add bottled water or fruit juice and you’ll have a well rounded, nutritious packed lunch that will keep you going until supper time.

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