Lunchbox Ideas: 5 Healthy Packed Lunches for the Work Week

Lunchbox Ideas: 5 Healthy Packed Lunches for the Work Week

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“You can’t eat [literature], that’s the problem,” he said. “I’ve tried, it’s very dry, and not at all nutritious.”

? Kenneth Oppel

Much to my dismay, the pen isn’t mightier than the swordfish.

On the bright side, you do not have to survive on a week’s worth of sandwiches (even if they are Nutella and peanut/almond butter masterpieces) to stay away from fast food, save money or both.

The answer is in your lunchbox, my healthy friends. You can still enjoy satisfying meals during your lunch hour that are good for you and easy on the wallet. We’re talking about healthy packed lunches from home.

Ready to taco bout it? Let’s get to it!

You will be making these recipes during your weekend meal prep or early in the morning/ the night before you decide to take it to work for lunch. Sure you may have to endure a stare or two when you’re consistently packing lunches but look on the bright side – you are making the conscious decision to take care of what you nourish your body with.

Are you pressed for time in the morning? Bringing leftovers from last night’s home-cooked dinner makes for a healthy lunch option.

“Leftovers are the perfect food to pack and take for lunch because you can control the portions and calories in the meal to ensure it will be nutritious, filling and delicious.”

? Connie Diekman, RD, president of the American Dietetic Association.

Without further ado, let’s start solving your lunchbox woes with these wonderfully healthy recipes:

Lunchbox Ideas: 5 Healthy Packed Lunches for the Work Week1

1. Veggie Fried Rice (10 minutes)

Thank you, Pinch of Yum for this recipe!

What you will need:

  • 2 x tablespoons sesame oil, divided
  • 2 x cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 x 1-inch piece fresh ginger, grated
  • 3  x eggs
  • 4 x cups brown rice (cooked, cooled and separated)
  • 1 x cup frozen corn
  • 1 – 2 x cups frozen peas
  • 1/2 x tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 – 3 x tablespoons soy sauce
  • Fresh chives
  • Fresh basil
  • Baby spinach
  • Add any other add-ins you want

Get cooking (good looking):

  • Heat one tablespoon oil in a large pan over medium heat.
  • Add the garlic cloves and ginger and stir-fry for one minute.
  • Crack the eggs directly into the pan and gently push them around in the pan until barely cooked (about 1-2 minutes).
  • Add the rice and stir-fry for a few minutes, adding the other tablespoon of oil and turning the heat up to get it sizzling.
  • The eggs should sort of incorporate and stick to the rice.
  • Add the frozen corn, peas, rice vinegar, and soy sauce and stir-fry for another 1-2 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, stir in any additional add-ins and serve!

TIP: Basil is a must -try for this recipe.

2. Southwestern-inspired Mason Jar Salad

Thank you, Stephanie Marshall, for this recipe!

What you will need:

  • Romaine lettuce
  • Tortilla chips, crushed
  • Roasted corn
  • Cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • Chicken breast, cubed
  • Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Black beans
  • Avocado-lime or ranch dressing

Get cooking (good looking):

  • Start with your dressing at the bottom of the mason jar. The idea is to keep it far away from the leafy greens to make sure they don’t get soggy.
  • Begin with the sturdiest and least absorbent ingredients at the bottom, and work your way to the top.
  • Top with a hefty serving of greens, and seal the lid.
  • Shake the sealed jar to distribute the dressing before pouring into a bowl.

3. Lemon-Parsley Bean Salad + Hummus

Thank you, Cookie + Kate for this recipe!

What you will need:

  • 2 x cans red kidney beans, rinsed and drained, or 3 cups cooked kidney beans
  • 1 x can chickpeas, rinsed and drained, or 1½ cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1 x small red onion, diced
  • 2 x stalks celery, sliced in half or thirds lengthwise and chopped
  • 1 x ripe red tomato, chopped (skip if you can’t find a great tomato)
  • 1 x medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
  • ¾ x cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 x tablespoons chopped fresh dill or mint
  • ¼ x cup olive oil
  • ¼ x cup lemon juice
  • 3 x cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • ¾ x teaspoon salt
  • small pinch red pepper flakes

Get cooking (good looking):

  • In a serving bowl, combine the prepared kidney beans, chickpeas, onion, celery, tomato, cucumber, parsley and dill (or mint).
  • Make the lemon dressing: in a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper flakes until emulsified.
  • Pour dressing over the bean and vegetable mixture and toss thoroughly.
  • Serve immediately for the most flavour, or let it marinate in the refrigerator, covered, for a couple of hours or longer.


“I don’t think I’ll ever grow old and say, “What was I thinking eating all those fruits and vegetables?”

? Nancy S. Mure, PhD

Lunchbox Ideas: 5 Healthy Packed Lunches for the Work Week

4. Thai Tuna Salad

Thank you, Julie, from Table for Two for this recipe!

What you will need:

  • 3 x cans of tuna, drained
  • 1 x medium red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 x red onion, diced
  • 1 x cucumber, sliced thinly and diced
  • ¼ x cup sesame oil
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  • Sesame seeds (as garnish)

Get cooking (good looking):

  • Empty the tuna cans into a large bowl and use a fork to break it into smaller (more bite-friendly) pieces.
  • Add in cucumber, red bell pepper and red onion.
  • Drizzle sesame oil on top and give everything a stir to combine the mix.
  • Add the juice of one lime and stir the mix again.
  • Sprinkle salt and pepper according to your taste and you’re done!
  • You can also use sesame seeds as a garnish for this recipe.

5. Cauliflower Mash

Thank you JewelPie for this recipe!

What you will need:

  • 1 (680 g) x cauliflower
  • 180 ml x coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp x salt
  • 2 tsp x curry powder
  • 35 gram/ a handful x cashew nuts (optional)

Let us prep:

  • Pull off leaves from cauliflower.
  • Cut cauliflower into pieces OR wrap in a towel and smash it until it’s in pieces.
  • Chop cashew nuts into pieces OR crush them in your hands. Set aside.
  • Prepare 200 ml coconut milk.

Get cooking (good looking):

  • Add cauliflower into a pot and pour coconut milk over it.
  • Turn burner to high, bring it to a boil and then immediately reduce to simmer.
  • Cover and let it cook for 20 minutes.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Flavour with curry powder and salt. Adjust according to your preference.
  • Using a fork/potato masher, mash cauliflower into a mashed potato-like consistency.

Treat Yourself: Gula Melaka Yoghurt with Jackfruit (Nangka Madu)

Thank you JewelPie for recreating and sharing this dessert from Mugshot Cafe in Penang.

What you will need:

  • 2 x pieces jackfruit/nangka madu
  • 1.5 cups/370g x yoghurt
  • 3 x tbsp Gula Melaka (palm sugar)
  • 1 x tbsp water

Get cooking (good looking):

  • Make a slit on a piece of nangka with a knife, remove seed and flatten it.
  • Place it on a grill pan and grill until slightly charred, then cut into thin slices.
  • Make Gula Melaka sugar syrup. Chop or grate Gula Melaka and place into a mug. Add 1 tbsp of water and pop into the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir well until Gula Melaka is dissolved.
  • Scoop yoghurt into an empty screw top jar, pour some Gula Melaka syrup onto it and top with sliced nangka.
  • Screw the lid back on, pop the jar into the fridge and take it out whenever you want.

Last but not least

Remember, if your lunch contains meat, fish or dairy – it needs to be kept refrigerated while you’re in the office. If you don’t have one, consider investing in air-tight and microwavable Tupperware, Thermos products, lunch boxes and /or cooler bags to keep your food at the right temperature.

All set? Dig in! 

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