by Sarah Leung, Nutritionist and Dietitian
By autumn, kids are back to school and most people are back to work with a routine and one of the most
common challenges my clients face is what to bring to work for lunch. As the weather gets cool, and
as food choices and variety increase, sometimes it’s more tempting to eat out than to bring the same
old same old cheese and ham sandwich just to feel hungry again after an hour or two. If we are
not organised or don’t have a plan, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of fast food, take away, food
court meals or skipping lunch altogether. So, here’s a few tips to make your lunch this autumn more
interesting and filling.
Taking leftover to work is a great option. In my household, we usually make double the amount of
what we eat at dinner, portion out what we plan to take for lunch the next day before digging into our
dinner. That way we are less tempted to go back for seconds. Everyone is busy and no one wake up early
enough to cook these days. As long as you plan your dinners to be healthy and balanced, taking what you
had the night before is a great time saver! I suggest using glassware as lunch boxes especially if your
meals require a microwave for reheating. Glassware is easy to wash and safe from toxins releasing during
reheating and storing.
– USE PROTEIN A FEW WAYS
For a small family or when cooking for one, it’s time consuming to just cook a chicken thigh or
100g of beef at a time. Consider making protein in bulk and use it in different ways during the
week. For example, you can slow roast a kilo of lamb leg, share 300-400g with the family with side
salad and roasted potato. Use 100g in salad with mustard, olive oil and lemon juice for lunch in the
next couple of days and use the remaining meat in a tossed pasta with herbs and other veggies. Our
recipe, sweet potato noodle salad with poached five spice chicken is another example and is one of
my favourite weekday meals. We share half a chicken in the noodle salad and use the rest for stir fry, noodle
soup or fried rice throughout the week. Using protein this way saves time and help increasing our
HAVE SOMETHING SWEET
Have you feel like you need something sweet followed by a savoury meal? By putting slices
of apple, tablespoons of yoghurt, two squares of chocolate or 2 apricots in your lunchbox may
help you feel complete after a meal. That’s much better than hanging on until 3pm and reach for the
USE A MULTIPLE COMPARTMENT LUNCHBOX
Have you even been to Japanese restaurants and eaten a bento box before? I always love the idea of
bento box because you get so many different things on one big plate. Consider using a lunch box that
has three to four compartments that separates your protein, grains, vegetables and a small dessert as
CARB OR NO CARB
Many people choice not to have carbohydrates at lunch time and just having spinach, tomatoes,
cucumber with a can of tuna, or chicken and salad etc.. Everyone is different and you know your body
best. But if you found that you are susceptible to over snacking between 3-5pm, having sweet cravings
or get too hungry by dinner time and overeat, it might be a good time to review your lunch intake.
A portion of complex and high fibre carbohydrates such as quinoa, buckwheat, wild rice and sweet
potatoes are great options packed with nutrients and low glycaemic index that will keep you going
for a long time. Adding nuts, seeds, avocado and oils such as olive oil and avocado oil are also great
strategies to keep you full and satisfied.
PRESENTATION, VOLUME, MAKE IT BIG
Food presentation plays a role in our appetite, satisfaction, perception and pleasure of eating.
Using vegetables with different colours, different herbs and spices, arrange your food to be nice and
beautiful (check out Instagram for inspiration) and use a decent size container to hold your food.
After all, lunch is one of your main meals in the day. Eating something pleasurable with bulk will
be able to help you feel fulling for longer and less likely to crave afterwards.