Your Health

Healthy Packed Lunch Ideas for All the Family

healthy packed lunch in a lunchbox

Healthy Packed Lunch Ideas

Taking a packed lunch to work or school can be so much more satisfying than having to contend with limited supermarket meal deal or uninspiring canteen options.  


Prepping a packed lunch takes a little bit of time and forward planning, but the benefits of getting to enjoy your own healthy lunch are more than worth it. 


healthy packed lunch ideas


The Advantages of a Packed Lunch


Taking a packed lunch means:


  • You can be in full control of what you’re eating, so you can be sure there are no hidden preservatives, additives, flavourings or artificial colourings in your food
  • You can save money; making your own salads or sandwiches can be a much more cost-effective option
  • You can have greater control over your portion size
  • You can include a little of each food group to ensure your lunch is as nutritious as possible
  • You can cater for your individual dietary needs, whether you need to make a keto packed lunch or a gluten-free packed lunch, for example

Balanced Packed Lunch Ideas


Making sure your lunch is both healthy and satisfying can be a real challenge. To make sure you feel full and focused all throughout the day, you need to ensure your lunch includes a proper balance of protein, complex carbs and healthy fats.


healthy packed lunch ideas


Eating this mix of nutrients will make your meals more enjoyable, help you to get the nutrients you need, and most importantly give you the stamina you need to get through the afternoon.


Try to make sure you’re including a little of each food group in your own packed lunch and in kids’ packed lunches to ensure they’re as healthy and balanced as possible.


High-Protein Packed Lunch Ideas


Protein can help to power you through your day and can keep you feeling satisfied for longer.


Eating a protein-rich lunch can help you to feel fuller and more alert, and will also leave you less likely to snack in the afternoon.


Leaner meats, such as chicken breast, turkey, canned tuna and fresh fish are all great options for a high-protein packed lunch. Alternatively, go meat-free with beans, lentils, hard-boiled eggs or nuts.


If you’re having a really busy day and don’t have time for a proper lunch, fill up on high-protein snacks like a protein shake or protein bar instead.



Get Creative with Bread


Many of us have a sandwich for lunch every day. But far from being a boring lunch, you can easily liven up your lunch by trying different types of breads. From baguettes and rolls pittas and focaccia, there are so many options to make your sandwich anything but standard. Remember to choose wholegrain breads, which are high in fibre and other nutrients.


For a different approach to a sandwich, why not roll your fillings into a wrap? Tortillas and thin flatbreads are perfect for portable sandwiches, and you can load them up with healthy fillings like veg and meats. Like other types of bread, make sure you opt for the healthier, wholegrain version.


tortilla wrap


Gluten-Free Packed Lunch Ideas


You can still enjoy a sandwich as part of a gluten-free packed lunch, you just need to get a little creative with your ‘bread’.


There are gluten-free bread options available, but alternatively you could wrap your sandwich filling in a lettuce leaf or seaweed sheet to make a gluten-free wrap with a difference. You could even try placing your filling in between two sweet potato slices or even grilled aubergine slices.


Eat the Rainbow


If grey skies are getting you down, brighten up your day with a rainbow of colour in your packed lunch.


Use lots of different types of fruit and veg to make a rainbow-coloured salad. Lettuce, carrots, grapes, pomegranates and peppers can all brighten up your packed lunch.


Try dipping slices of apple and banana into peanut butter, or pairing carrot and pepper sticks with hummus for a tasty way to eat your fruit and veg.


Take Leftovers for Lunch


Cook once and then enjoy the same meal as leftovers for the next few days. Purposefully making extra of a healthy dinner means you can use the leftovers for a hearty lunch.


Not only does this trick save you time, but it also makes sure you have something for lunch and aren’t tempted to buy unhealthy alternatives.


Serve your leftovers in a slightly different way so you’re not just repeating your dinner. Here are some of our favourite ideas:


  • Chop up leftover roast chicken and toss with salad leaves for a healthy pitta bread filling
  • Turn leftover chilli into a burrito bowl
  • Blend up leftover veg to make a hearty soup
  • If you have extra quinoa or couscous, use it to make a healthy grain bowl


Looking for recipes to support your gut health? Try out these three tasty recipe ideas:


Gut Health Recipes: Homemade Kimchi


Gut Health Recipes: Homemade Kimchi

Try this gut-friendly recipe featuring fermented vegetables.

2021-03-24 11:17:40By Garden of Life

Garden of Life

Garden of Life

Writer and expert