Start the year with healthy lunchboxes

Forget tired and expensive supermarket sandwiches

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If your usual lunch consists of the meal deal you buy on your way to work, then you're probably ready for some new ideas about what you can have for lunch. And if you've ever wondered how fresh the ready made sandwiches on the supermarket shelves are, the answer is that they're not as fresh as the ones you make yourself.

Assuming a salad lunchbox or a daily sandwich bought on your way costs at least £3 a day, you have plenty to gain in terms of savings if you make your own.

Top tips for making your own lunches
1 Get your hands on a good lunchbox. Look for a sturdy one with a good seal - no-one needs lunch leaking all over the contents of their bag.

2 If you're having sandwiches, go for one you really like, buy the best ingredients you can afford and try to make it in the morning to ensure it's really fresh. Even ones made the night before are probably fresher than the supermarket equivalent. Save time by making a mix (tuna mayonnaise, for example) the night before.

3 Almost any salad you like can be adapted to go in a lunchbox. Bear in mind that it's often better to store dressing separately (or keep it at work), and also that ingredients such as avocado are best added as late as possible as they can discolour.

Good combinations include:
Pea and broad bean salad with feta
Smoked trout and cracked wheat salad
Tuna and cannelini bean salad
Refreshing chopped salad
Greek salad
Salad nicoise
Turkey (or chicken) and avocado salad

4 For a healthy wholegrain superfood salad, cook a batch of grains such as spelt, pearl barley, wheat or lentils on Sunday night and store in the fridge to mix with other ingredients through the week. If you don't have time to cook the grain yourself, try a ready-cooked pouch. You can make endless variations using seasonal ingredients. (See the basic formula below).

The formula for a healthy wholegrain lunchbox salad
These combine whole grains with oily fish or lean protein and superfoods such as avocado, tomatoes and nuts to boost your whole body. They can be surprisingly filling.

How it works: Pick one item from each group (grain, protein, veg and topping), mix, and put into the lunchbox.

The grain: wheat or bulgur; spelt; freekeh; pearl or pot barley; green lentils; puy lentils (cook these items beforehand)
The protein: smoked, hot-smoked or poached salmon; smoked mackerel; smoked or poached trout; feta cheese; goat cheese; mozzarella; cooked chicken; tuna
The veg: rocket or other salad leaves; diced cucumber, carrot strips, cherry tomatoes; cooked green beans; cooked sweet potato; edamame (soya) beans
Topping: pumpkin seeds; hazelnuts; almonds; sunflower seeds; pomegranate seeds; chopped herbs; chopped spring onion