With less than 4 week until Christmas everyone is trying to save the pennies. A good way of saving money is swapping your shop bought lunches for packed lunches. Not only will this help save you a few pounds in your bank account but will also help you save a few pounds on your waist line.
If you need ideas of how to keep your food interesting but still healthy, we can help. We’ve come up with a few healthy lunch ideas that are easy to make for you and all of the family.
Pasta Salad Boxes
Pasta salads are brilliant for any day of the week! A healthy example of a pasta salad that is a popular choice here at the The Slimming Clinic is pesto and broccoli pasta salad.
140g broccoli, cut into short lengths
250g pasta (any kind)
3 tbsp pesto
2 tbsp toasted pine nuts
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
8 cherry tomatoes, halved
- Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Add the broccoli, cook for 2 mins, then add the pasta and cook according to the pack instructions.
- Drain everything, gently rinse under cold water until cool, then tip into a bowl.
- Toss with the pesto, pine nuts and balsamic vinegar. Add the tomatoes, pack into containers and chill.
- Let the salad get to room temperature during the morning to get the most flavour from the tomatoes and pesto.
Why not try adding in other ingredients like chicken, prawns, olives, red onions or spinach.
Soup is always a great lunch on those cold and wet winter days. You can make a big batch on a Sunday which can be your lunches for a few days. Also, soups can be frozen and taken out the night before you need them for lunch.
One of our favourite soup recipes is spicy chilli bean soup. At only 157 calories per portion this soup will help to fill you up and slim down at the same time.
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tbsp tomato puree
½ tsp ground cumin
400g can chopped tomatoes
500ml vegetable stock
400g can mixed beans, drained and rinsed
1 red pepper, cut into chunks
- Heat the oil in a deep saucepan and fry the chopped onion over a medium heat until tender.
- Add the garlic and tomato purée, stirring for 1-2 mins until combined. Sprinkle in the spices and cook for another 1 min.
- Tip in the chopped tomatoes, half fill the can with water, and add to the pan.
- Pour in the stock and simmer on a medium heat for 10-15 mins, uncovered. Season, then whiz using a hand blender until smooth.
- Add the beans and red pepper, and cook for another 15 mins until the pepper is tender and serve.
Or to make life easier you could always get a soup maker! A good one to start with is the Morphy Richards compact soup maker from argos that you can buy here.
Okay, so everyone knows that salads are the go to meal when trying to lose weight. Salads have a bit of a boring reputation for themselves, but they don’t need to be boring! When making them at home you can add in all the stuff you like and not the stuff you don’t!
A great way to make your salad exciting is to layer it up to see all the exciting colours. Our favourite salad is the layered rainbow salad pot.
200g green beans, trimmed and chopped into short lengths
160g can tuna, drained
4 tbsp low fat mayonnaise
4 tbsp fat free natural yoghurt
½ small pack chives, snipped
200g cherry tomatoes
1 orange pepper, cut into little cubes
195g can sweetcorn, drained
- Cook the pasta until it is still a little al dente (2 mins less than the pack instructions) and drain well.
- Cook the green beans in simmering water for 2 mins, then rinse in cold water and drain well.
- Mix the tuna with the mayonnaise and yogurt then add the chives.
- Tip the pasta into a large glass bowl or four small ones, or four wide-necked jars.
- Spoon the tuna dressing over the top of the pasta.
- Add a layer of green beans, followed by a layer of cherry tomatoes, then the pepper and sweetcorn. Cover and chill until you’re ready to eat.
Why not try adding in other ingredients like ham, eggs, chicken, lettuce, grated carrot, cucumber or red onions.
This is quite an easy one. When making your healthy dinner in the evening, why not make a bit extra and then pop it into a container ready to take to work the next day.
Some healthy dinners that make brilliant lunches include:
- Stir fries
- Chili Con Carne (especially with a baked potato!)
- Any pasta dishes (including spaghetti bolognese, lasagne, pesto pasta etc.)
- Healthy curries (for example a low fat green Thai curry)
A few other easy ideas for packed lunches are:
- Salad wraps with hummus.
- Lunchbox snacks – Dip with veggie sticks, olives, nuts or fruit.
- Healthy sandwiches – Smoked salmon and avocado, tuna and low fat mayonnaise with salad, chicken, bacon and avocado all on rye bread or wholemeal bread.
- Baked potatoes with beans or tuna with low fat mayonnaise and salad.
Planning your meals for the week will most definitely help you when you’re trying to eat healthily – this can help you figure out what dinners can double up for leftover lunches as well as helping you save a lot of time in the morning.
If you need some more help with ideas of what to eat or how to plan your meals our Slimming Guide & Diet Diary is full of useful tips, recipes and shopping lists. Get yours from our online shop here.