NHS weight loss dietitian shares 5 office lunch favorites – from budget-friendly meals to 10-minute meals

YOU may have every intention of eating a healthy lunch, but you have no idea where to start.

A good place is the advice of a dietician, who knows exactly how to make a meal healthy yet fast, affordable and tasty.


A dietitian has shared packed lunches that meet all needsCredit: Getty
Dietitian Lucy Jones


Dietitian Lucy JonesCredit: supplied

Save these meal ideas for the next time you need inspiration.

Lucy Jones, dietitian and Chief Clinical Officer at NHS weight management provider Oviva, reveals what lunches she would make for a day at the office…

1. 10 minute meal

Spending an extra hour of your day preparing for the week on a Sunday just isn’t their thing for some people.

But they also don’t have to rely on expensive and usually unhealthy lunches that they buy in the store.

Lucy says: “If you’re short on time the night before work or in the morning, the 10-minute packed lunch is a lifesaver.

“Place hummus and vegetables, such as cucumber slices, tomato wedges and pepper strips, together with crumbled feta cheese in a whole-wheat pitta.

“The combination of chickpeas in the hummus, vegetables and a little protein and healthy fat from the feta makes for a filling, nutritious lunch.

“The great thing about a pitta is that you can mix things up to keep it interesting and build on what you have in your fridge.

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“If you fancy a meat option, try a chicken salad version, add chicken, salad and homemade dressing – a third cup of natural yoghurt, two tablespoons of lemon juice and two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, with any herbs you like and some salt and pepper.

“You can also try adding another cheese, such as halloumi, with roasted red peppers from a jar or slices of boiled egg with some baby spinach and cress.”

2. Vegetable

Not only vegetarians eat plant-based. Meat eaters can also benefit from this.

And plant-based doesn’t just mean eating ‘plants’, i.e. fruit and vegetables.

Lucy says: “Eating meatless doesn’t mean skimping on protein.

“I like a Buddha bowl with vegetable proteins such as beans and grains.

“Buy some microwaveable packaged grains like brown rice, quinoa, or a rice/grain mix to save time, then build your bowl with a variety of vegetables and plant-based products, like tofu/edamame beans (which you can also buy frozen).”

All supermarkets nowadays sell packs of mixed grains that you can eat both cold and hot. Most serve two.

Lucy says: “Think about the texture when you make the bowl – I like to add some crunch with things like carrot or onion.

“Adding an avocado is always a winner because the healthy fats in avocado improve nutrient absorption and satiety.

“Finish with a lemon vinaigrette dressing – three parts oil to one part acid (vinegar or lemon) is generally a good benchmark for making a dressing – but make sure you do the taste test.

“You can stack this nicely while preparing meals. I tend to keep the dressing in a separate jar and add it when I’m in the office to keep it from getting soggy.

“This vegan lunch provides lasting energy without making you feel heavy.”

A 'Buddha bowl' usually contains a grain source, such as quinoa or couscous, protein, such as chicken, egg or tofu, vegetables, a healthy fat such as avocado, and extras.  Finish with a dressing


A ‘Buddha bowl’ usually contains a grain source, such as quinoa or couscous, protein, such as chicken, egg or tofu, vegetables, a healthy fat such as avocado, and extras. Finish with a dressingCredit: Getty

3. Low carb

Some prefer the keto way: low carbs, but more proteins and fats.

Or you may feel less sluggish after lunch if you limit carbohydrates.

So what would Lucy earn?

Lucy says: “Large salads with lots of low-carb toppings are my favorite.

“Start with a base of leafy vegetables such as spinach or a bag of mixed salad. Then add protein from grilled chicken fillet or baked salmon.

“Mix other low-carb vegetables such as avocado, tomatoes, cucumber and radishes.

“Nuts and seeds are a good addition. You can buy mixed seed packets; throwing some on top adds healthy fats and crunch.

“With these types of salads you can actually add any dressing you like, depending on your preference. Sometimes simple is best and balsamic and olive oil keep it fast.”

4. Store in the refrigerator

For those who like to prep and dust the meal, they will be looking for something that can be kept in the refrigerator for days.

Lucy says: “Meal prepping with lentils is one of my favorite lunch hacks.

“Lentils are extremely budget-friendly and are packed with plant-based protein and fiber to keep you satisfied.

“Cook a big batch of lentils at the beginning of the week and you’ll have a versatile protein source ready to mix into salads, grain bowls or wraps.

“For salads that will keep for several days, heartier vegetables such as roasted beets, kale and red cabbage work well. These nutrient-rich bases hold up well without becoming soggy.

If you work from home, beans on toast with a little cheese will provide you with protein, fiber and fat.

Lucia JonesDietitian and Chief Clinical Officer of Oviva, an NHS weight management provider

“Every morning, top your prepared vegetables with a scoop of lentils, pre-cooked chicken, tuna or cheese such as feta, and a light dressing such as a lemon vinaigrette.

“When I’m craving a warm, comforting lunch, lentils work well here too.

“Good recipes for batch cooking include spiced lentil and sweet potato stew; Sauté some onions, garlic and ginger, then add chopped sweet potatoes, red lentils, vegetable or chicken stock and your favorite curry powder or spice mix.

“Let it simmer until the lentils and potatoes are soft. You can easily make a large batch that you can store in the refrigerator to reheat.

“Another tasty option is a smoky lentil chili. Fry some turkey or beef (if using meat) and then add the cooked green or brown lentils, a can of tomatoes, peppers, chilli spices and stock.

“Top it with fresh coriander, avocado and a dollop of Greek yogurt. It’s a lunch packed with protein and fiber that will keep you going through the afternoon.

“These hot lentil lunches can also be frozen for longer-term meal preparation. Just thaw overnight and then reheat in the microwave.”

5. Budget option

You already save money by preparing lunch at home. But how can you stretch your pennies?

Lucy says: “Eating healthy on a budget is possible if you shop smart.

“Canned fish, such as mackerel, sardines and salmon, are excellent for this because they are often relatively cheap and contain many healthy fats.

“You really can’t go wrong with a canned fish sandwich here. Use whole wheat bread, replace the mayonnaise with some yogurt and add some cucumber or corn and salad.

“Other budget-friendly proteins include hard-boiled eggs, beans and lentils.”

For example, make a salad with chopped iceberg lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes, topped with chickpeas, a few boiled eggs and finely chopped crispy bacon.

Add a yogurt dressing with two tablespoons of yogurt, a teaspoon of mustard, salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste.

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Lucy says: “If you’re working from home, beans on toast with a little cheese will give you protein, fiber and fat.”

What are the potential benefits of plant-based eating?

There is no ‘best diet’ – although vegans and meat-eaters would tell you otherwise.

Scientists say the “best diet in the world” is the Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes plant-based foods but also includes some red meat and fish.

Other diets that fall under ‘flat-based’ include vegan, pescatarian and flexitarian.

So what is ‘plant-based’ and what benefits does it have for you?

What is vegetable?

The easiest way to consider plant-based is vegetarian.

But while the main focus of vegetarian eating is on avoiding meat, the main focus of plant-based eating is on eating as many plants as possible, i.e. fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.

Why is it useful?

Both large population studies and randomized clinical trials have shown that the Mediterranean diet – a good example of a predominantly plant-based diet – reduces the risk of heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and certain cancers (particularly colon, breast and prostate cancer). ) and depression, says Harvard Health.

Plant-based diets often contain more fiber, which is linked to the prevention of colon cancer (the opposite is said for red and processed meat).

Fiber can also help with weight management.

What to pay attention to

Anyone who eats a primarily vegan or vegetarian diet may need to supplement if they are not meeting nutritional goals, namely iron and B12.

Additionally, many plant-based products that are versions of fake meat or cheese may seem healthier at first glance, but are often packed with salt or other processed ingredients.

If you’re going to try plant-based, it’s a good idea to learn some new recipes instead of relying on meat substitutes.

List of plant foods

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Whole grains (brown rice, brown pasta, quinoa, barley, oats, buckwheat, bulgur)
  • Legumes (chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans, peas, lentils and more)
  • Nuts and seeds (almonds, cashews, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and more)
  • Vegetable proteins (tofu and tempeh)

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