Non Sandwiches Lunches

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.



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

meal varieties.


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

chocolate packet.


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

described above.


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.


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.

You can find more articles like this in our Autumn 2016 issue e-magazine!

Click on the below image to download