So you want some healthy meal ideas for the workplace?
Well look no further because all of the meals below can be produced in the confides of a very basic kitchen.
They have been categorised into:
- Snacks – No preparation needed at all.
- Basic Meals – All you will need for these meals is a place to put everything together. No cooking or apparatus needed – just preparation.
- Pre-prepared Meals – Meals that you can prepare the night before or at the start of the week to enjoy at work. Some of these meals may need warming up with a microwave.
- Meals to prepare – Meals that you can create in the workplace using very basic equipment such as a microwave or toaster.
Before we start, remember that food-based dietary guidelines in countries throughout the world promote a balanced diet.
Need proof? Pick any country from the following list to see what the dietary guidelines are for that country:
It is considered healthy to eat many types of foods in moderation, with the avoidance of sugars and saturated fats. Two good principles to live by are:
- If you can’t grow it or kill it, don’t eat it!
- If you can leave it on your kitchen surface for weeks or months without it decaying, don’t eat it.
These two principles will help you to avoid processed foods that are often unhealthy and are full of unnatural additives.
We understand that you have to make compromises and we don’t expect you to turn into farmers, hunters and fishermen so we have included some ingredients that are not purely natural but can be eaten as part of a healthy, BALANCED DIET.
Snacks – No preparation
- Nuts and seeds
- Fruit – Berries, pits, cores, citrus fruits, tropical fruits, etc.
- Dried fruit – raisins, sultanas, apricots, prunes, dates, etc. Make sure that they are made from 100% fruit as many “fruit snacks” contain lots of sugar and hardly any nutrients found in whole fruits)
- Fat free natural yoghurt
- Washed raw vegetables or salad – Carrots, celery, cucumber, lettuce, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.
- Natural dips – Salsa, hummus, olive tapenade, etc. Don’t be fooled by any of the “visible” packaging on the front of the product. Flip it over and look at the ingredients list and nutritional information details. The more basic, the better. Get the nutrients that you need while enjoying your food. For a guide on how to read food labels see here: To include guide on reading food labels.
- Wholegrain crackers like rye crispbreads
- Cottage cheese
- Tinned tuna in springwater – Avoid tuna in brine or oil as these options are often high in saturated fat!
- White meat from your local deli counter
Basic Meals – Just preparation, no cooking
You can basically mix and match any foods mentioned in the “snacks” section above. These meals may take a little longer to construct than eating straight out of the packet but they are still easy wins which need hardly any cutlery or time to make.
- Tinned tuna in springwater salad – Toss in a bowl your favourite salad and drained tuna.
- Protein shake – Find the right protein shake for your dietary requirements. If you need a quick meal on the go, just add water or milk to powdered protein and away you go! You can overcomplicate protein shakes as there are so many variations to choose from – whey, casein, soy, pea, rice, hemp, etc. Simplify your choice by choosing a powder that is as natural as possible and that is most easily absorbed by your body. Whey protein – a derivative of milk – is considered the most absorbable form of protein as well as the most “complete” form as it contains all nine essential amino acids.
- Nuts, seeds, fruit and natural fat free yoghurt – Try this with berries or maybe banana. You will be surprised at how tasty and refreshing this actually is!
- Wraps – Purchase whole-grain wraps to get your fix of dietary fibre and stuff them anything fresh and tasty mentioned in our “snacks” section above – You could also pre-prepare some cooked ingredients such as grilled chicken breast, baked falafel, simmered beans or sautéed prawns. Most cooked ingredients last if you refrigerate them in airtight containers or wrap tightly with aluminium foil or plastic wrap but be reasonable with this – smell and look at the ingredients before using them and discard any that show signs of decomposing or smell sour. Do not taste first!
- Sandwiches – As with wraps stick to whole-grain breads. It is the word “whole” that is important. You want those grains to be fully intact while consuming them to ensure that they have not been processed and you get all those good nutrients. Use foods mentioned in the “snacks” section above or the two principles mentioned in the introduction to pick your filling.
Pre-prepared Meals – May need some preparation at work
These meals need to be prepared at home before you take them into work but most of them last several days, especially if they are frozen. If you’re really organised you can prepare several of these meals on Sunday afternoon to get you through the whole working week!
- Dehydrate your own fruits by using our recipe. You will know exactly what ingredients have gone into your fruit, avoiding those hidden nasties, and it’s a great opportunity to gain a feeling of accomplishment from your cooking – Food always tastes better when you have created it yourself! As it’s a simple recipe and requires very little equipment – maybe enjoy making dried with the kids?
- Just like drying your own fruit, roasting chickpeas in luscious herbs and spices is simple enough even for the children to get involved. This recipe will help you create a tasty vegan snack that provides a good source of protein and fibre.
- Smoothie – Use your imagination with this one! You can blend pretty much any ingredients you like and that you think will taste delicious – fat free skimmed milk, water, fat free natural yoghurt, fat free cottage cheese, nuts, seeds, fruit, vegetables, ice, protein powder, the choices are endless!
- Overnight oats – Overnight oats is basically a smoothie poured onto your favourite type of oat and refrigerated or frozen for later consumption. Remember that oats also have stages of processing; in order – groats, steel cut, stone ground, rolled, “quick” and finally “instant.” The more processes that oats go through to get to the final product (e.g. cut, ground, flattened, toasted, dehydrated, etc.) the fewer nutrients left in them when it comes to consumption!
- Flapjacks don’t always need to be unhealthy and full of artificial sugars! Use natural ingredients listed in our recipe to create little squares of delight without the saturated fat and sugars. These treats are good to make on your day off and store for the week ahead.
- Pretty much any meals left over from the night before – Almost all food that is left over from your meal the night before can be refrigerated and reheated when you get to work. Stews, casseroles, pastas, soups, chili’s, curries, stir fry’s, the list goes on! Whatever you indulge in the night before be sure to refrigerate any leftovers and take it to work the next day. This will save you time, money and effort while maintaining your intake of hearty, nutritious food.
- If you want a nice healthy snack to nibble during the day in replacement of those fatty, salty potato chips (or crisps if you’re British), then take a look at our baked sweet potato recipe. This snack is very easy to make and is also great alongside a main dish (like last night’s leftover supper).
Meals to prepare at work
- Crack eggs into a bowl, whisk with a fork and cook in the microwave for a couple of minutes. It is as simple as that! Take a look at our recipe for a more detailed overview of what’s involved but that is essentially it for this nutritious, protein packed meal!
- Microwaved poached eggs – If you like a runny yolk to your eggs then try poaching them in the microwave. It is just as simple as scrambled eggs, only this time there is water involved – Fill a microwaveable bowl with hot water – add salt and 1/2 tsp of cider vinegar (optional). Carefully break an egg into the bowl and cook on high for 2-3 minutes depending on how powerful your microwave is, how hot the water is, the size of the egg, how much water you have included, etc. There is nothing wrong with cooking the egg in stages, so if you are worried about spoiling a nice runny egg, check it every minute, 30 seconds or 10 seconds when it gets close to being cooked. A good indicator of checking whether your egg is cooked is by removing it from the bowl with a slotted spoon and giving it a jiggle. Not cooked and you will see the albumen running through the spoon; overcooked and the egg will jiggle like a house brick! Eat it as soon as possible! You don’t want it to cool too much and go hard!
- Egg on toast – If you have access to a toaster as well as a microwave at work, why not go that little bit further and create scrambled (or poached) eggs on wholegrain toast. It will not take any extra time to put two slices of wholegrain bread in the toaster while your eggs are cooking, adding to your fibre and carbohydrate intake. Need a little bit more taste? Try topping with fresh herbs or spices… freshly cut chives are always a delight with scrambled eggs!
- Simple, quick and requires the modest of equipment; this little pot of energy will keep you vibrant from its natural sugars and provide you with a hint of sweetness to keep your tastebuds satisfied.
- Oats and fruit (or dried fruit) – Add oats to a microwaveable bowl, cover with milk of your choice, microwave for 1 ½ to 2 ½ minutes, remove from the microwave and add fruit/dried fruit of your choice. Quick, simple and allowable for almost all types of diet. As mentioned in the “overnight oats” section above… Choose your oats carefully. Some are more nutritious than others!
- Chicken/tuna/turkey, rice and vegetables – Combine your favourite source of protein, carbs and dietary fibre in 1 bowl. You can use any ingredients from the “snacks” section of this article – tuna, white meat, salad, vegetables, etc. You can also include ingredients that you have pre-prepared at home; for example, try cooking a chicken or turkey breast on a fat reducing grill. It takes around 5 minutes to cook and store such meats for the next day; time well spent! Likewise, boil your favourite vegetables at home and add them to the mix – broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, asparagus – there are so many vegetables for you to try and testing different combinations will provide you with a much needed balance of vitamins and minerals. You can get your starchy carbohydrates easily from baking a sweet potato in the microwave or benefitting from the speed of wholegrain microwaveable rice. Again, you can prepare such foods at home boiling wholegrain pasta, quinoa or brown rice before hand for example.
- Microwave sweet potato with toppings – Sweet potato can be cooked just as well in the microwave as it can in the oven. Cut a potato in half (you can also keep it whole, prick both halves (or full potato) with a fork in several places and cook it in the microwave for intervals of two minutes; turning it each time and checking to see if it is cooked all the way through. Once cooked, add your favourite toppings. For inspiration try cranberries, tuna or cottage cheese and spring onion.
- As this recipe has already been created on our website, it is a good idea to give you the option to view this one as well. Although, very similar to poached eggs on toast it offers an alternative method of cooking as well as integrates vegetables into the meal for additional dietary fibre. Try mixing the two methods to see what works best (and tastes best) for you.
So there you have it, a full menu to keep on your desk at work!
Ingredients included in most of these recipes can be found at the local supermarket and can be made in a few minutes so there is no excuse to go to the local cafe for that burger and chips.
Eating naturally doesn’t have to be time consuming or tasteless. Try some of these meals and let us know what you think!