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How to make a nutritious lunch

Variety and different types of food for lunch helps to keep you going and performing at your best

Lunch should include a number of food groups to give you the calories and nutrients your body and brain needs to perform during the day.

  • Wholemeal breads, pasta, rice or potatoes are our body’s main energy source. Wholemeal or wholegrain foods are broken down slowly by the body, providing energy for longer.
  • Lean meat such as chicken or turkey slices, hard boiled eggs and pulses are good filling choices. Or tinned pulses can be added to soups and salads.
  • Fruit, vegetables and salad are usually low in calories and fat but are highly nutritious, containing fibre and a range of vitamins and minerals. Try to include a variety of different types across the week.
  • Milk, yoghurt and cheese provide calcium that is needed for healthy bones and teeth and are a source of protein. Choose low-fat varieties where possible as they are lower in saturated fat.

And every meal should include a drink of water or milk to help you stay hydrated. Find out more about the importance of drinking during the day

Lunch ideas

Whether you prefer a cold or warm lunch we have lots of healthy lunch recipes.  

For a quick lunch, pack a sandwich. To keep it interesting you can:

  • Vary the types of bread – pitta bread, bagels, wholemeal rolls, wraps.
  • Try a variety of spreads – mustard, hummus, salsa, low-fat mayonnaise.
  • Vary the fillings - egg and salad; tinned tuna with sweetcorn, tomato and lettuce; grilled vegetables and hummus.
  • Include at least two vegetables, more is better.

Leftovers make great lunches. Make extra at dinner and have it for lunch the next day.

  • Soups, casseroles, stews and curries can all easily be made in bulk and store well. Find out more about batch cooking:
  • Leftover meat, fish or eggs can be added to sandwiches or salads.
  • Mix leftover vegetables with pasta and a sprinkle of grated cheese for a pasta salad

If you are packing a lunch for kids, check out our tips for preparing a healthy lunchbox that your child will eat and enjoy.

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