Are you in the office, in the home office or on the road a lot and always have your hands full? Your lunch often falls by the wayside or, despite good intentions, you end up grabbing a quick roll at the bakery, a pizza or a kebab? Many people often find themselves in a stressful situation, especially at lunch, and a vicious circle of less than optimal food and a midday slump begins. The good news is: there are many simple alternatives for lunch that save time, taste delicious and also fill the second half of the day with sustained energy.
Make it hassle-free & uncomplicated for yourself!
When it comes to good eating habits, everyday life is often challenging for many people. Lunch in particular often fails due to the hectic pace of the day and unforeseen situations and tasks. Working people in the home office or on site at the workplace have difficulties eating an uncomplicated, healthy lunch. But even for people caring for children or those with sporting and aesthetic goals, the lunch break often feels too short to eat an energy-supporting lunch.
In fact, this perception often arises simply from a lack of the right tools, know-how and preparation. You can put together a healthy lunch in almost any situation - even sometimes without Meal Prep. How to do this is now explained.
Woraus besteht ein gesundes Mittagessen überhaupt?
First, let's look at the definition of a healthy lunch. This can vary greatly with today's nutrition trends and different opinions. Based on current scientific knowledge and what practice shows, the healthy lunch is defined here like this:
The healthy lunch always consists of a good source of protein (fish, meat, eggs or alternatives such as rice-almond or sunflower protein e.g., sunflower mince), vegetables (carrot, cucumber, broccoli, lettuce, courgette…), a small amount of good fat (virgin oils, avocado, nuts…) and depending on the body fat percentage and activity level, long-chain carbohydrates (potato, quinoa, red rice, millet...) can be added.
The following applies: the lower the body fat percentage - especially around the middle of the body, the higher the muscle mass and the more one moves in everyday life, the more sensible it is to have carbohydrates for lunch. Accordingly, people who sit a lot (e.g. in the home office) and people with more body fat around the middle of the body should not eat carbohydrates for lunch. This has a lot to do with blood sugar management.
In addition, general advice (which also applies to other meals) should be followed:
The food should be intestine-friendly, accordingly contain no allergens such as gluten, cow's milk products or anti-nutrients, be sugar-free and be as natural as possible (no industrially processed fats, additives, extra sugars, etc.). Intestinal irritants also upset blood sugar, and high blood sugar at lunchtime leads to the well-known midday slump. Many people know the feeling after a plate of pasta. Protein and vegetables, on the other hand, saturate and stabilize blood sugar.
Healthy lunch - as an athlete, in the office, on the go - how does it work?
The first thing to do here is: Be prepared. You should at least try to plan ahead and possibly think about what the week will look like on Sunday and do Meal Prep accordingly. If you already have a prepared healthy lunch of protein, vegetables and good fat at lunchtime, you save time and stress.
Of course, there are always situations that come up unexpectedly, or you are out and about and didn't have a chance to organize a delicious healthy lunch. Often people think way too far and complicated, in fact, there are elementary solutions that you can put together with simple components from the supermarket. Here are two examples of such a quick, healthy lunch:
> 1 pack of beef ham (protein), leaf lettuce (vegetables), olives (fat), cucumber, salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil (fat) and optionally add rice cakes (carbohydrates): Spread the beef on a plate, top with the leaf lettuce, a few slices of cucumber and the olives, then season with salt, pepper and olive oil and snack on the rice cakes if desired.
> Vegetarian: 2-4 hard-boiled eggs (protein), 1 pack of snack carrots (vegetable/fibre), a handful of nuts (fat) and optional buckwheat slices (crackers made from buckwheat, gluten-free) as a carbohydrate source.
Of course, these are not elaborate gourmet meals, but they taste delicious and are a quick solution for a healthy lunch in hectic everyday situations. As a rule, of course, as already mentioned, it makes sense to cook your lunch in advance.
Healthy recipes for lunch
It is efficient and useful to prepare several meals for a healthy lunch in one evening or at the weekend. This way, you can pre-cook them in larger quantities, e.g., for three servings in one go, and store it in Tupperware in the fridge.
Theoretically, you can put together your lunch according to a modular system:
Select your protein source:
Meat (e.g., beef ham, ground beef, pastrami, chicken breast, cooked chicken breast cold cuts, turkey, venison, etc.), fish (salmon, trout, tuna, sea bass, etc.), egg, sunflower or jackfruit mince or in the form of a shake, e.g. rice protein or almond protein (called almond meal in retail stores). Then cook, bake or fry the protein source if necessary.
Choose the right vegetables:
Broccoli, lettuce, cucumber, pepper, tomato, courgette, fennel, kohlrabi, etc. Boil or chop if necessary.
Choose a good source of fat:
Nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, pistachios, pecans, etc.) or avocado, virgin vegetable oil, coconut oil, cocoa butter, pasture butter or seeds.
Choose smart & complex carbohydrates (only if needed, see above):
Quinoa, potato, rice, rice noodles, rice wafers, gluten-free bread, sweet potato, millet, buckwheat noodles and so on.
A resulting healthy lunch with chicken can look like this, for example:
Fry chicken breast strips, season and pack in a Tupperware container together with lettuce, nuts and some avocado. If you want to enjoy carbohydrates with it, you can cook some potatoes to go with it. These also taste good cold and contain resistant starch after cooling anyway, so the carbohydrates will have less of an effect on blood sugar.
Another simple example recipe for a healthy lunch with egg, which is great for the home office, but also in the office, because it does not need to be reheated, looks like this:
Image & text from: "Fit@Home" von Ines Schulz © Jochen Arndt & Publisher: GU
Image: Jochen Arndt & Publisher: GU
The recipe is also suitable as a healthy lunch to take away when you are on the go.
In my book "FIT@HOME" you will find numerous other lunch recipes of this kind, as well as many tips and tools for easy meal prep and organising healthy meals. The book is available in all bookshops in Germany, Austria and Switzerland as well as in numerous online shops.
Healthy Lunch for Weight Loss - Healthy Lunch Low Carb
In the kit shown above, you quickly realize that you can easily put together a healthy light lunch that is rather low in carbohydrates:
A basic example would be boiled broccoli with a little virgin olive oil and a salmon fillet sautéed in pasture butter.
What also always works great and is great for on the go is a sandwich of low carb bread with some pasture butter, turkey breast, beef ham or smoked salmon with a lettuce leaf and some vegan pesto. For dessert, you could snack on some dark (at least 90% cocoa) chocolate and a few berries.
Low-carb Shirataki noodles made from konjac flour are also perfectly filling.
If you are looking for a healthy low-calorie lunch, you can make a delicious minced beef bolognese with these noodles, which consist only of fibre, and use it as a healthy lunch for work with the ready-made low-carb noodles that only need to be heated up.
Quick healthy lunch for the Thermomix, the microwave or the pan
Basically, everything that is prepared can be briefly reheated in various appliances. The microwave should be more of an emergency solution, as many valuable vitamins are destroyed there. Nevertheless, it is still a better solution than eating junk food. All the dishes described above that are eaten warm can easily be reheated briefly in the pan. If you have a Thermomix, you can make Meal Prep much easier, so you don't have to cook at all.
Simple healthy lunch - vegetarian or vegan is also possible
Of course, it is also possible to eat without meat or animal products. What you should pay attention to from a health perspective in order to avoid nutrient deficiencies can be read in the respective blog articles on vegan nutrition and vegetarian nutrition!
The Cashew Lemon Bowl with egg above is a simple vegetarian example recipe. With egg dishes, you have a healthy lunch that is vegetarian. Sheep and goat cheese or feta are also good sources of protein and fat for vegetarians if your gut is healthy. With the kit above, however, it is very easy to put together a lunch that is vegan: Soak the sunflower mince according to the instructions beforehand, then fry it with olive oil in a pan, add finely chopped vegetables of your choice as well as chopped onions and then pour on strained tomatoes. If carbohydrates are on the menu, buckwheat noodles are a good side dish.
Conclusion on a healthy lunch
A healthy lunch consists of good quality protein, vegetables, good fats and possibly long-chain carbohydrates, provided you exercise enough and have little body fat around your middle.
You can make up a lunch like this from a simple list of suitable foods. It's best to prepare the meals in advance using Meal Prep so that you don't get into a stressful situation at lunchtime.
If that doesn't work out, there are simple solutions for putting together a healthy lunch from groceries in the supermarket. By the way: A healthy lunch for children should contain the same components, but carbohydrates may always be on the menu.