In this day and age of fast living, a sit-down, leisurely lunch on a workday is an absolute luxury. Nevertheless, a healthy and preferably slow lunch is imperative for good digestion, especially if your job requires you to sit in a chair all day. Many office workers, however, end up ordering in fast, greasy or junk food. A little extra planning and effort, and you can daily feast on the healthy lunch you deserve.
Tips for a healthy office lunch:
Plan ahead and shop smart:
Shop for staples that you can adapt into more than one healthy meal that will save you time and money. A smart lunchbox grocery list should have the following items:
- Salad veggies like lettuce, cucumber, carrot, beetroot
- Versatile lentils and pulses like chickpea, rajma, yellow peas
- Healthy grains like brown rice, couscous, quinoa
- Sprouts or seeds that sprout like whole moth (Turkish gram), moong, Bengal gram
- Chicken or lamb if you are non-vegetarian
- Tofu, cheese, and paneer
- Healthy multi-grain breads, preferably from home bakers
Shop from your local farmers’ market over the weekend whenever possible. If not, many places and online grocery sites deliver.
Seek out smart recipes:
Your soaked batch of chickpeas can be made into chole one day, falafel or hummus next. Rajma can be had with rice one day or used to make Mexican gravy dishes. Soaked and cooked beans work great in cutlets, too. Your cut vegetables can be salad, or roll/pita stuffers. Lettuce leaves, once washed and trimmed, can be stored in the fridge and used for salads, to line pita bread, chapati or sandwiches. You can soak some brown rice in therefrigerator and cook it in batches over the work week. Soaked rice or dal cooks faster. This way, you can shave off minutes from the cooking process, helping your hectic morning routine. You can indeed make one batch of groceries go a long way.
Try one-pot cooking:
If you like filling, hearty meals, it might be a good idea to invest in a crockpot or slow cooker. You can toss in stew ingredients at night, have them cook overnight. In the morning, you have a ready meal for your lunchbox. Alternatively, marinate some boiled shredded chicken in your favourite herbs and spices and some olive oil overnight, for a healthy and tasty sandwich filling.
Think outside the box. Research healthy recipes from various cultures. You could even try the Japanese “Bento Box” approach for healthy, colourful and flavourful meals. Vietnamese “salad rolls” that combine salad vegetables, tofu, cooked chicken or shrimp in rice paper are one excellent lunch option. So is grilled chicken with olives, on a variety of healthy breads.
Condiments to add that extra zing:
Pesto, mustard, soya, tabasco, and Sriracha are all popular sauces that add that X factor to a meal. If your office pantry allows it, store a variety of small-sized sauces to zing up your meals. For a sweet tooth, you can similarly store nut butters or travel-sized packets of jam.