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Published on September 14, 2018

25 Ideas for Delicious and Healthy Lunches You Can Take to Work

25 Ideas for Delicious and Healthy Lunches You Can Take to Work

Preparing and bringing meals to work can feel awkward when you’re accustomed to running out and grabbing a meal on break. This habit can really start to put a dent in your wallet and your health when choices are limited to cheap fast food or fresh but expensive, made-for-you meals.

Try balancing the scale a bit and prepping a couple meals for lunch each week.

If you’re stuck on what to make, here are 25 ideas of healthy lunches you can bring to work without breaking the bank or sucking too much time from your routine.

1. Sweet Potato Hummus

    Hummus is a nutritious dip or spread that can go with just about anything! Making your own gives you the know over exactly what’s in your meal.

    Pack a small dish with your homemade dip, fresh carrots, celery, and grapes, with whole grain chips, pitas, or sliced bread for a cafe-style lunch box.

    ~ Get the recipe here!

    2. Chicken, Rice & Veggies

      It sounds all too easy, but why pay for a rice bowl when you can make one fresh from home? Simply cook your rice and steam your favorite vegetables ahead of time.

      Add chicken, steak, or grilled tofu on top. Sprinkle with parsley, cumin, or curry according to your palate.

      ~ Get the recipe here!

      3. Slow Cooker Curried Butternut Squash Stew

        Curry is a profound spice with a multitude of health benefits. With this stew, you give your digestive system a bit of a break from heavy meats and meals.

        It’s a great option if you’re trying to stick to a cleanse or reset before Fall arrives. This recipe makes it easy on you to prep and let the crockpot do the rest!

        ~ Get the recipe here!

        4. Spicy Tuna Sandwiches

          Only a few ingredients are needed to complete this quick mix in under 15 minutes.

          Tuna is a good source for protein and essential fatty acids. This recipe kicks it up a notch with protein powered beans and a little heat.

          All that’s left is to choose your favorite bread or hoagie, (whole grain is recommended). Top with fresh tomato, avocado, and even bacon to take this everyday sandwich over the top.

          ~ Get the recipe here!

          5. Steak Fajita Salad

            Fajitas are fun to eat and simple to cook. Using fresh produce for your meal utilizes the powerful effects they have when freshly ripened.

            Onions are strong detoxifiers and bell peppers are hydrating and provide vitamins unique to their colors. Steak is a great source for protein, but try to go grass-fed if you can!

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            The same dish can be made with alternative proteins, and even salmon or shrimp if you’re craving seafood.

            ~ Get the recipe here!

            6. Turkey and Mashed Potato Casserole

              This nontraditional casserole is great for when the weather starts to cool down.

              Potatoes catch a bad carb reputation, however if you’re really busting your tail during the week, extra carbs will support your efforts, not kill them.

              For variety, mix in seasonal veggies before you bake it. Then, you can enjoy leftovers or bring it to share with your coworkers!

              ~ Get the recipe here!

              7. Tofu Lettuce Wraps

                This easy lunch barely requires any cooking and serves your body with lightweight nutrients to keep you running through the rest of your day.

                You can also swap the tofu for grilled chicken, or add lightly diced and grilled veggies to mix up your leftovers for the following day.

                ~ Get the recipe here!

                8. Thanksgiving Waffles

                  This dish will be sure to satisfy a few up and coming cravings as we welcome Fall season and holidays.

                  Turkey naturally boosts your body’s happy chemical- serotonin, and cranberries are a powerfully cleansing fruit packed with vitamin C. I’d recommend making your own waffle mix with gluten-free flour, like coconut or almond flour. All around, this may be one of the best recipe ideas ever.

                  Get the recipe here!

                  9. Southwest Chicken Wrap

                    Wraps are perfect options for a busy day. They are easy to make, store, and eat on the go while providing you with enough fuel to conquer your schedule.

                    For really fresh flavor, I’d hit the farmer’s market to buy your corn and peppers. But if needed, frozen veggies work just fine!

                    You can grab a cooked rotisserie chicken to make it even easier on yourself, too! Vegans may enjoy the same dish with a creamy garlic and almond cream dressing and alternative cheese.

                    ~ Get the recipe here!

                    10. Lemon Chicken & Asparagus Stir-Fry

                      With only a couple of ingredients, this dish is fairly quick to make. Lemon juice helps to preserve foods and keep them fresh longer.

                      You can change out and mix up your rice for couscous, quinoa, or noodles.

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                      ~ Get the recipe here!

                      11. Apple, Almond Butter, & Granola Sandwiches

                        If you ever find yourself craving sweets at lunch time, these sandwiches may be your new best friend.

                        Apples are energizing and contain cleansing properties to boost your metabolism, while almond butter is a rich source for healthy fats. Pairing these with whole grain granola provides a balanced and inexpensive meal for your lunch hour.

                        ~ Get the recipe here!

                        12. Veggie & Hummus Sandwich

                          Hummus spreads have caught a lot of hype, and for good reason! It’s a delicious way to get in protein and fiber, as well as minerals that support your nervous system.

                          If you’re not a fan of sprouts, try using fresh bell peppers or sliced cucumbers for a refreshing pop.

                          ~ Get the recipe here!

                          13. Taco Salad in a Jar

                            Made with ground turkey rather than beef, this recipe is much lighter on your stomach and easy to pack the night before.

                            You can also add fresh salsa with mango and parsley, baby Kale instead of romaine lettuce for a superfood boost, and alternative cheese for an allergen friendly choice.

                            ~ Get the recipe here!

                            14. Apricot & Almond Chicken Salad Sandwich

                              Chicken salad is an easy go-to when you’re short on time or want to prep for the week.

                              Apricots pack a serious punch when it comes to digestive and circulatory health. They are especially great for women’s reproductive health.

                              Almonds help to burn excess fats and rebuild muscles mass, making them a perfect blend of nutrients as well.

                              For a vegan option, use grilled tofu instead of chicken.

                              ~ Get the recipe here!

                              15. Shrimp and Grits

                                Shrimp are a light source of protein and are easy to prepare for this slow-cooker idea.

                                You can change out a few ingredients to make it dairy-free, using nut-milk alternatives for the butter and creams.

                                You can also add hearty veggies like carrots and sweet potatoes instead of grits for a rich source of healthy carbs to keep you full and focused.

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                                ~ Get the recipe here!

                                16. Sesame-Ginger Noodles

                                  Another light dish with multiple choices to mix and match ingredients to your liking.

                                  You could use veggie noodles for extra nutritional boost and top with various seeds, almonds, avocado.

                                  Add lightly grilled chicken, tofu, or steak on top for satisfying protein and you’re good to go!

                                  ~ Get the recipe here!

                                  17. Sun-Dried-Tomato & Pasta Salad

                                    Tomatoes are an excellent source for vitamin C. Pair them with a delicious pasta, whether its whole grain, brown rice pasta, or even zucchini noodles, and you’ve got a meal that will help you stay lean without missing a beat.

                                    ~ Get the recipe here!

                                    18. Wheat Berry & Citrus Salad

                                      This lunch recipe can go just about anywhere with you. It doesn’t require much to make and can be cooked in larger batches so you can get the most from your leftovers.

                                      A dairy-free version can be made without the Feta cheese, or by swapping for a vegan alternative.

                                      ~ Get the recipe here!

                                      19. Miso Sweet Potato and Broccoli Bowl

                                        Sweet potatoes are great sources for carbs because they are rich in vitamins and minerals that support your digestive system and a healthy metabolism.

                                        Broccoli provides rich green nutrients and helps to cleanse your body and support your immune system.

                                        Combining the two creates a delicious, guilt-free lunch that works to keep you operating at your best and brightest!

                                        ~ Get the recipe here!

                                        20. Chickpea, Cherry Tomato & Feta Salad

                                          Chickpea contains muscle-building amino acids, protein, and healthy fats that also support weight goals and mental performance.

                                          To make this dish totally vegan or vegetarian, simply nix the feta and go with a vegan cheese for the creamy effect.

                                          ~ Get the recipe here!

                                          21. One-Pot Pesto & Pea Pasta

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                                            If you’ve only got one pot to spare, it’s all you need to cook this dish in under 30 minutes.

                                            You can purchase pesto from the store or try your hand at homemade. Making your own pesto with freshly picked Basil leaves is a wonderful way to connect with your food.

                                            Still feel like it needs a little something more? Add cherry tomatoes, olives, and chicken for an even more fulfilling meal.

                                            For gluten-free options, you can also try the same recipe with brown rice pasta or veggie noodles.

                                            ~ Get the recipe here!

                                            22. Macaroni Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing

                                              Mix up your traditional pasta salad with homemade avocado spread!

                                              You can definitely stretch this as a side for a few lunches, pairing each with a different protein like a garlic-lemon chicken or top it off with baked salmon!

                                              ~ Get the recipe here!

                                              23. No-Bake Oat, Peanut Butter, & Granola Bars

                                                If you know your day is going to be non-stop, these easy granola bars may be your saving grace! You only need to mix together 4 ingredients and chill the bars to firm.

                                                Delicious, healthy, and easy for any day of the week. And the kids love them, too!

                                                ~ Get the recipe here!

                                                24. Cucumber-Lox Toast

                                                  Here’s another quick fix made with only five ingredients! This recipe gives you about 12 grams of protein, plus the health benefits found in yogurt like natural probiotics.

                                                  If you choose whole grain bread, the whole meal with remain very low in fat and boost your energy for the second half of your day.

                                                  If you only want to bring one or two slices, it would pair well with a side of fresh berries, sliced apples, or banana chips.

                                                  ~ Get the recipe here!

                                                  25. Blueberry-Orange Parfait

                                                    Parfaits don’t have to be just breakfast or dessert, they can make filling lunches. This one is made with fresh and energizing fruit.

                                                    You can add almonds, granola, and even more fruit for a larger portion.

                                                    ~ Get the recipe here!

                                                    With these 25 healthy lunch recipes, you can spice up your lunch break without breaking the bank. From now on, you can get the most from your lunch break with fresh and healthy lunches!

                                                    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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                                                    Alexa Sponaugle

                                                    Holistic Health Coach

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                                                    Published on November 14, 2018

                                                    Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

                                                    Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

                                                    With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

                                                    For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

                                                    In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

                                                    Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

                                                    Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

                                                    It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

                                                    For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

                                                    Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

                                                    Symptoms of Fatigue

                                                    Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

                                                    • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
                                                    • mental blocks
                                                    • lack of motivation
                                                    • headache
                                                    • dizziness
                                                    • muscle weakness
                                                    • slowed reflexes and responses
                                                    • impaired decision-making and judgement
                                                    • moodiness, such as irritability
                                                    • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
                                                    • reduced immune system function
                                                    • blurry vision
                                                    • short-term memory problems
                                                    • poor concentration
                                                    • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

                                                    Causes of Fatigue

                                                    The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

                                                    • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
                                                    • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
                                                    • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
                                                    • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

                                                    Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

                                                    Medical Causes of Fatigue

                                                    If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

                                                    Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

                                                    Anemia

                                                    Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

                                                    Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

                                                    There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

                                                    Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

                                                    Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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                                                    This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

                                                    Diabetes

                                                    Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

                                                    Sleep Apnea

                                                    Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

                                                    Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

                                                    Thyroid disease

                                                    An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

                                                    Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

                                                    • Lack of sleep
                                                    • Too much sleep 
                                                    • Alcohol and drugs 
                                                    • Sleep disturbances 
                                                    • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
                                                    • Poor diet 

                                                    Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

                                                    • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
                                                    • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
                                                    • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
                                                    • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

                                                    Psychological Causes of Fatigue

                                                    Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

                                                    • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
                                                    • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
                                                    • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

                                                    How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

                                                    Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

                                                    1. Tell The Truth

                                                    Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

                                                    To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

                                                    Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

                                                    The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

                                                    One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

                                                    • How you feel
                                                    • What time of day it is
                                                    • What may have contributed to your fatigue
                                                    • How your mind and body reacts

                                                    This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

                                                    2. Reduce Your Commitments

                                                    When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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                                                    If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

                                                    When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

                                                    Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

                                                    3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

                                                    If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

                                                    Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

                                                    If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

                                                    Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

                                                    Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

                                                    4. Express More Gratitude

                                                    Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

                                                    It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

                                                    Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

                                                    5. Focus On Yourself

                                                    Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

                                                    There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

                                                    But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

                                                    We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

                                                    6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

                                                    Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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                                                    Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

                                                    The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

                                                    Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

                                                    7. Take a Power Nap

                                                    When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

                                                    Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

                                                    This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

                                                    8. Take More Exercise

                                                    The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

                                                    Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

                                                    The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

                                                    You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

                                                    9. Get More Quality Sleep

                                                    To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

                                                    Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

                                                    My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

                                                    10. Improve Your Diet

                                                    Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

                                                    Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

                                                    On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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                                                    To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

                                                    Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

                                                    Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

                                                    11. Manage Your Stress Levels

                                                    Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

                                                    When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

                                                    Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

                                                    My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

                                                    12. Get Hydrated

                                                    Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

                                                    Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

                                                    If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

                                                    The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

                                                    The Bottom Line

                                                    These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

                                                    If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

                                                    Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

                                                    Reference

                                                    [1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
                                                    [2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
                                                    [3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
                                                    [4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
                                                    [5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
                                                    [6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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