Thinking outside the (lunch) box - Part I

By Sarah Campbell Bligh, RD


According to an Ipsos Reid survey by Dietitians of Canada, 45% of Canadians say eating healthy meals and snacks while at work is challenging. There are lots of reasons why this happens, but there is one sure way to get help: dietitians! A dietitian can help you meal plan, discover new foods, and add cooking skills to your repertoire that will make food preparation easier for the whole family. Check out our ‘Nova Scotia Dietitians’ button to find a dietitian near you who is accepting new clients.


One way to make work lunch easier is to think outside the lunch box. A balanced work lunch doesn’t have to look like the traditional sandwich and salad combo. If you enjoy sandwiches, that’s fine, but if you don’t (or even if you do but feel like shaking things up!) there are so many more options!  Here are four ideas to get you thinking:



1.  Leftovers


This is probably the easiest option – making extra of your dinner and then having it for lunch the next day. The struggle here is keeping the leftovers interesting. Not everyone wants to eat the same thing for lunch and dinner – that’s OK! You can liven things up by using your leftovers in a different way. Let’s say you make a lentil soup for dinner. Maybe the next day you eat it over a leftover baked potato for lunch. Or toss in some cooked pasta and use it like a pasta sauce. Most leftovers can be made interesting with a little creativity!


2.  Picnic style


No leftovers? No problem! You can make a picnic style lunch out of foods most people normally have in their kitchens. A picnic lunch is just a mix of different finger foods that together would make  a balanced meal. These lunches are easy to throw together, and they are also easy to eat if your work day tends to be hectic.


Here’s a few ideas:

  • Grapes, plain nuts, cheese cubes, whole grain crackers, vegetable sticks

  • Hummus, mini pitas, small yogurt, cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices

  • Boiled egg(s), baby carrots with dip, apple or pear, avocado slices, ½ whole grain bagel


3.  Breakfast for Lunch


Who says you can only eat certain foods at certain times of the day? As long as your meal is balanced that is what matters most. Try these overnight oat recipes from Better Homes and Gardens! You can make it the night before and put it in your lunch bag – it’s ready when you are.



4.  Soup in a jar


With the winter we’ve been having on the East Coast salads in a jar, though popular, may not be hitting the spot. Try soup in a jar! It’s the same idea, you can make a bunch up for the week, and all you have to do is add hot water when you’re ready to eat! The basic formula for layering your soup in a jar is pretty much the same as how you’d make a salad in a jar:


  • Protein on the bottom . Try shredded chicken, leftover sliced cooked pork chop, cooked chunks of fish, or even cooked beans or lentils!

  • Add your flavour. This can be a bit of sauce, spices, or a mixture of the two. This is what will make your soup taste really good!

  • Hearty vegetables come next. Think shredded cabbage, peas, carrots, grated turnips, whatever you like! Just make sure the pieces are small. Since you’re just adding hot water you want them to be able to soften up a little.

  • Add your lighter veggies on top of the hearty ones. Peppers, fresh herbs, mushrooms – anything that doesn’t really need cooking.

  • Last you add your noodles, if desired. Rice vermicelli is quick and easy, but you could also use a fresh pasta, or even leftover rice or quinoa instead! Your portable soup is ready.

  • To eat just add boiling water and let sit a few minutes. Stir to mix it all up  and enjoy!





















The soup in a jar pictured contains leftover shredded pork, Thai chili sauce, sliced Brussels sprouts, grated carrots, jalapeno pepper, chopped green onion and cilantro, and rice noodles.


Happy lunching!


Sarah Campbell Bligh, RD

March is National Nutrition Month! The theme this year is Eating 9-5, and helping Canadians make healthier choices during the work day. Eating well at work can help improve productivity and decrease missed work days due to illness by improving overall health.  Unfortunately, it’s easier said than done.

  • DNSS facebook

© 2018 by The Dietitians Network of Nova Scotia.