We’ve all been there. The days when you have nothing to take for lunch, you’re already running late and therefore your options for food today are a) whatever you can get in or around your workplace (usually unhealthy or expensive or both) or b) tuna and microwave rice cups or whatever else is in the back of the pantry. For some of us, this happens more often than not (don’t worry, we have all been there) and it is for those humans that this blog post was born.
I love taking left overs for lunch, but sometimes, for whatever reason, that just doesn’t always happen. You might remember 10 minutes before bed that you don’t have lunch tomorrow, or even 10 minutes before leaving for work. It might be Sunday and you want to have at least a few lunches for the week organized but there’s not a single thing you can think of to actually make. I think for almost every human who doesn’t work from home, not having something for lunch happens more often than we’d like… So, I present to you, five affordable, easy and healthy lunches that you can make in no time at all and tweak to your likings.
Four Bean Salad
This salad is legit my life saver when I have nothing else for lunch. It takes all of five minutes to make and will literally cost you around $3 to put together.
1 tin of four bean mix
Handful of spinach
Quarter red onion, sliced
1 tomato, roughly diced
Half an avocado, diced
Juice of half a lemon
Drizzle of olive oil
Chuck all ingredients into a lunchbox and off you go. If you want a meat component to this lunch, sauté a chicken thigh or two in coconut oil, salt and pepper and add to the salad. Or even add a tin of tuna (if you’re not already sick of eating tuna from the last seven hundred days of tuna and rice lunches).
Roast vegetable salad
Roast vegetables are another must have for me when it comes to filling, cheap and healthy lunches. I’m a big fan of roasting a sh*t load of sweet potato, pumpkin, broccoli and cauliflower to have at the ready whenever I’m low on time.
1-2 cups of your fave roast-able vegetables, diced
2-3 leaves of kale, roughly chopped
Half tin of chickpeas, raw or roasted with the vegetables
Half avocado, chopped however you like
Juice of half a lemon
Coat vegetables in olive oil, paprika, turmeric and salt and roast on 200c for 20 minutes. With your kale you can keep this raw with a little olive oil or lightly sauté it in a pan. Throw all ingredients in a lunchbox with your super fancy lemon dressing. Once again you can add a meat component to this if you wish. This is another good salad that would go with chicken thighs or even lamb.
Meal Prep Lunchbox
If you’re a little more organized and don’t mind eating the same thing for a few days, meal prep is an amazing way to make sure you’re never left without a lunch. Here’s a few ideas of things you can make to make up your meal prep lunches that isn’t just chicken and rice.
Stir fried vegetables – cut up whatever veg you like, heat some oil in a pan with some garlic, throw the veges in for 5-10 minutes and season however you like (tamari, sriracha, sweet chili sauce, honey, whatever you like)
Quinoa – cook as per packet instructions but I like to flavor mine up by using stock, bone broth or even coconut milk instead of water so it’s much more delicious.
Steamed or roasted vegetables – as I said earlier, having lots of roast vegetables at the ready makes lunches a breeze. Same goes for meal prepping. Having a lot of vegetables is not only super healthy for you, but it’s actually pretty cheap as well.
Fried rice – if you eat rice (I personally don’t, but when I did this was an amazing option for meal prep) make up a big batch of fried rice full of vegetables and divide up into lunch boxes. To make this a bit healthier than your stock standard white rice, try using brown or black rice or even cauliflower rice!
Marinated or unmarinated tofu or meat – Cooking a week worth of tofu/meat to have with your lunch takes no time at all and will keep you feeling fuller and more energized throughout the day. Just remember to base your lunches around vegetables and keep your meat intake down and veg intake up. PS. if you have a BBQ this is even better because you can just throw whatever meat on the BBQ that you love and it takes no time to become a super flavorsome part of your day, every day!
Snack – including a healthy snack to your meal prep like a piece of fruit, handful of nuts or dates or a protein ball will help make sure your sweet tooth isn’t left feeling neglected after all this (healthy) savoury food. Keep your naturally sweet snack as a dessert to stop any potential cravings sneaking up on you.
Having a packet of healthy wraps in the cupboard and some vegetables in your fridge is the perfect last minute, running out the door lunch solution. Grab the wraps, an avo, tomato, some spinach or lettuce leaves, some left over chicken/ham/falafel, feta and some hummus, chuck it in your bag and when lunch time comes around, cut up your tomato, spread some avo and hummus on a wrap + whatever other ingredients you grabbed and make yourself a nutritious, delicious wrap.
If it’s not such a rush job you can cut your ingredients up the night before, but don’t stress about not having them ready to go. I, along with many other humans I know are forever bringing whole vegetables to work because time wasn’t on our hands and that’s totally okay. Add whatever you like to your wraps to make them how you like them.
Something on Toast
Provided you have access to a toaster, the options are endless here! One of my fave things to take to night shift is a few pieces of rye bread, a whole avo and some feta to have smashed avo whenever I want (literally, sometimes at 3am it’s smashed avo time for this nurse). A few easy but filling options are boiled eggs (or poached if you have one of those epic microwave poachers), avocado and fetta, bruschetta-type mix (tomato, onion, basil leaves and balsamic vinegar), peanut butter and banana slices, smoke salmon and cucumber slices, mashed chickpeas, anything!
One last sneaky tip I’ll give you is to use the days when you are prepared/organized to stock up on healthy things that you can quickly grab and go. Things like tins of beans and chickpeas, wraps, vegetables, whole fruit, snack packs of nuts, even make up a big batch of pumpkin soup and freeze it so when you really have zero time to make something you can go straight to the freezer and grab yourself a home-cooked frozen meal. The same goes for making yourself extra at dinner so you’re sorted for the next day; if you’re cooking at night you might as well do two birds with one stone.
I probably should also say that tuna and rice isn’t all that bad (sorry tuna and rice, I didn’t mean to be so harsh), so having those in your cupboard isn’t the end of the world. Just remember that there are other options that are much tastier and healthier to get you through your day and they aren’t as hard to make as you might think.
I know how busy life can get but I can't stress enough how important eating healthy is so I hope this blog post has been able to help you get prepped for the week ahead! Enjoy your working week with all your delicious new lunches my darlings,