Department of Health & Human Services
Premiers Active April

Liven up your lunch!

Lunchtime is a great chance to get outside and enjoy time away from work or class. Plus, what we eat at lunch can fuel our minds and bodies for a productive afternoon. So it’s important to make sure your lunch is not only delicious, but nutritious and satisfying too.

Whether you’re buying out, packing from home or using up leftovers, we’ve got some inspiration to liven up your lunch.

Healthy lunch on the beach

Buying out

Keep this simple advice in mind next time you’re buying your midday meal.

  1. Go for the most vegetables. Aim to make a third to half your meal with vegetables, and choose a variety if possible.
  2. Include a lean protein source, such as meat, poultry or fish, or alternative options to meat like eggs, legumes, tofu or reduced-fat cheese.
  3. Add some grains for fibre and slow-releasing energy. Choose from whole grains such as quinoa and brown rice, or wholegrain/wholemeal varieties of breads, wraps or pasta. (Starchy vegetables like sweet potato, pumpkin or legumes count too.)
  4. Top with something tasty. Add some healthy fats from avocado, crushed nuts or extra virgin olive oil, and flavour with herbs and spices rather than salt. Reduced fat dairy such as ricotta, cottage cheese, feta, Greek yoghurt or natural yoghurt can also add creaminess and flavour.
    Tip: Try dukkah! It’s a delicious combination of crushed nuts, seeds, and spices to add a kick to any meal.
  5. Serve it on a plate. Takeaway containers can hold a lot of food, so take your meal out of the box to see its true portion size – you might be amazed at how much is actually in there! Eat enough to feel satisfied but not stuffed, then refrigerate the rest in an airtight container for tomorrow.

Wholesome LunchPacking a lunch

When you’re packing lunch for school or work, no doubt you want something quick, easy and tasty. Preparing a healthy meal doesn’t have to be complicated and you can make your mornings a little easier by storing some staple ingredients in your pantry. That way you can top up with some fresh produce when you need it to mix things up and for more variety.

Here are some of our favourites but feel free to try your own:

  Vegetables Protein source Grain foods Tasty toppings
Pantry staples Beans
Tinned tuna
Tinned legumes (Lentils, chickpeas, beans)
Grainy crackers
Wholegrain wraps/rolls/bread (from freezer)
Microwave rice
Extra virgin olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Dried herbs
Crushed nuts
Fresh foods Spinach
Reduced fat feta
Cheese slices
Roast chicken
Sliced turkey
Wholegrain rolls/wraps/bread
Cooked brown rice, wholemeal pasta or quinoa
Fresh herbs Hummus
Greek or natural yoghurt

Using leftovers

Using up leftovers can be your saviour for pulling together easy lunches and reducing your food waste. Can you try any of these ideas tonight?

  • Dice your leftover roast vegetables and cook them in a frittata or quiche;
  • Use up cold rice in a healthy fried rice dish;
  • Combine steamed veggies and cooked meat in a stir fry;
  • Use cooked chicken or pork in rice paper rolls;
  • Mash baked potatoes and vegetables together into tasty fritters.

Bottom line

Whatever lunch you choose, go for grains, protein, and lots of vegetables. Try to enjoy your meal without distractions from work or your phone. Savour every mouthful and enjoy the break in your day that lunchtime provides.

Lunch recipes:

Try some of these tasty and healthy lunch recipes below:

Everyday easy: Burritos

Sophie’s pick: Saffron lamb, yoghurt and date tagine

And check out our Healthy Eating Made Easy page for advice on a flexible healthy eating plan, with your free food group tracker!


Recipe selected by Nutrition Australia Victorian Division. For more healthy recipes visit the Nutrition Australia website.

Last updated: November 28, 2016 at: 12:06 pm

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