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Health and Wellbeing - August 2017

02 Aug 2017

Work lunch box tips

By Erin Burns, registered nutritionist

Recently whilst talking to clients, there has been a common thread of buying lunch every day.

Although there are many healthy options available, when it comes to buying a meal out, the healthiest option is a well-balanced lunch box from home.

Many commercial outlets serve too much and their offering can contain additives for extra flavour, including hidden bad fats and salt, which can be detrimental to health.

There are many benefits to bringing your lunch from home. It will save you money for one! It also gives you control of what you’re putting into your body and where your food is sourced. It also helps you achieve health goals you have set for yourself.

If you are time-poor, prepare on the weekend for the week ahead.

Include two serves of fruit each day. Use fresh seasonal fruit whenever possible. Another good alternative is canned fruit in natural juice (with no added sugar).


One banana, a cup of strawberries, two mandarins, one apple, a cup of chopped melon, or a small can/tub of diced fruit.

Remember to pack your vegetables. Enjoy the crunch and colour of raw vegetables. Salads are a great way to include your veggie serves. Also add grilled vegetables such as pumpkin, capsicum and eggplant in a roll or sandwich. Try vegetable sticks with dip as a snack, or a container of mixed raw vegetables.

Soups are a great way to get your veggies in during the cooler months. Supermarkets also offer various pre-made salads that you can build upon. Aim for two cups of salad for your lunch. This equals two of your five vegetable serves for the day.

Include food high in protein, such as some lean meat or poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, legumes/beans, nuts/nut butter and seeds.


  • Tinned tuna or salmon in spring water; hard boiled eggs or mashed egg in a sandwich; falafel balls and lentil patties; smoked salmon or sliced cold lean meats such as ham, turkey, chicken, silverside, roast beef or lamb; cheese and natural yoghurt, milk or milk products/alternatives.
  • Whole-grains are another valuable item for your lunch box. Aim for whole-grain varieties of the below as they have a lower GI (glycemic index) and will keep your energy sustained for longer.
  • Bread or rolls (multigrain, rye, sourdough, pita or corn);
  • Rice or pasta salads. For example, rice salad with tuna, and chopped veggies;
  • Pasta or noodle salad;
  • Rice dishes, such as homemade fried rice; and
  • Wholemeal scones, wholemeal pikelets and homemade muffins sweet or savoury crackers, crisp-breads, rice cakes and corn thins (choose wholemeal or wholegrain where available).

Good fats are important in maintaining satiation throughout your working day. Include small portions at meals or snacks.

Good sources of fats include: Avocado, nuts and seeds/nut butter, cheese, extra virgin olive oil, butter, and whole egg mayonnaise. If there is a food that’s origin is fat i.e. mayonnaise, it is best to buy a good quality version that is not reduced fat or fat free (as this usually means additional ingredients such as sugar and thickeners have been added in order to make the food palatable and are not necessarily great for your health).

Get yourself some nice containers and a cooler bag to transport your lunch in. If you have a communal fridge/kitchen then you can easily store food items to sustain you over the week.

An example of a day’s lunch box:

Morning tea:

One piece of fruit, 200g tub of natural Greek yoghurt, one small coffee.


One boiled egg, two cups of mixed garden salad, one cup of cooked quinoa mixed through salad with one small tin of tuna and a lemon juice.

Afternoon tea:

A handful of raw mixed nuts, one cup of strawberries.

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