How to build a healthy lunch

A good lunch will fill you up and provide all the energy and nutrients you need to last until dinner time. Our mix and match guide will help you create delicious and healthy lunches.

Lunch provides a large proportion of your energy and nutrient intake for the day, so it’s important you have a proper lunch every day. Some tips for eating healthily at lunch include not rushing, giving each mouthful a good chew and drinking water with your meal. This will help you to digest better and prevent overeating.

Eating sugar will only give you a short-term energy fix, instead use complex carbohydrates to keep you energised throughout the afternoon.

Mix and match lunches

Mix and match one of each of these ingredients to build your healthy lunch, or swap in your own favourite healthy foods:

Proteins (25%): Chicken, tofu, smoked mackerel, tuna, lentils
Carbohydrates (25%): Wholegrain pasta, quinoa, wholegrain rice, noodles
Fruit and vegetables (50%): Edamame beans, stir fry veg, broccoli, simple salad (lettuce and tomato).

Click the image below to view our Mix and Match Wheel:

With these ingredients you can make lots of great healthy lunches, here’s some examples… 

Smoked mackerel stir fry with quinoa

  1. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a wok or frying pan then add soy sauce, ginger and garlic to taste
  2. Stir-fry vegetables for 8–10 mins
  3. Add tinned mackerel (drained) and 1/2 packet of ready to eat quinoa and heat through
  4. Drizzle with sesame oil and freshly chopped coriander – take leftovers to work. 

Lentil dahl

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add 1 tsp ground cumin, 2 tsp garam masala and 1 tbsp turmeric and warm them until fragrant
  2. Add chopped ginger and onion and fry for 1-2 minutes
  3. Add chopped carrots and 200g red lentils and stir
  4. Pour in 500ml of stock and simmer for 20 minutes with the lid askew
  5. Once cooked, turn off the heat and stir in 2 handfuls of spinach and allow to wilt
  6. Serve with brown rice or oatcakes – perfect for lunch boxes. 

Chicken, edamame and noodle soup

  1. Fry onion, garlic and chilli in a pan with a teaspoon of oil
  2. Add 1litre of chicken stock per person
  3. Add one sliced, cooked chicken breast per person and simmer for 5 minutes
  4. Add a handful of courgetti, chopped coriander and half a cup of frozen edamame beans
  5. Simmer for a further 5 minutes, or until vegetables are cooked through.

Healthy eating tips

Why not add some flavour with garlic, chilli powder or wasabi? And remember to always drink a glass of water with your meals. This will help your body to digest the food properly.

Last updated Tuesday 20 September 2022

First published on Tuesday 27 November 2018