After a busy morning at work, we might be tempted to grab a fast-food burger or a slice of pizza from that place down the block. But consuming salt, fat and sodium at lunchtime is a recipe for poor concentration and feeling groggy. Instead, plan ahead and pack a healthy lunch. What’s the secret? What you had for dinner last night. You can transform your dinners into interesting and delicious work lunches while staying health-conscious. Here are 5 ideas for creating healthy lunches out of leftovers.
See also: How to Make Cheap Healthy Lunches
1. Enjoy Fish 4 Ways
It’s hard to think of a healthier dinner than baked fish, brown rice and vegetables. There are a few good reasons to eat fish, including the fact that it’s a good source of protein, has calcium and omega-3 fatty acids. Take any leftover fish, whether it’s heart-healthy salmon, a white fish like cod or red snapper, and make one of four lunches: a fish taco, a fish sandwich, a salad, or a quinoa salad. These are easy lunch ideas that can be customized to your personal tastes. Want some cabbage and green pepper on your taco? Want a corn, flour or whole-wheat tortilla? You can make a fish and avocado sandwich on whole-grain bread for something tasty yet incredibly healthy. Leftover salmon would taste amazing on a spinach salad with strawberries and oranges, and anything vegetables taste great in a cold quinoa salad with some added fish for a protein hit.
2. Turn Pasta into Salad
Did you have pasta and tomato sauce last night? Make some extra pasta and toss it with a variety of ingredients for a quick, cold pasta salad. Add avocado instead of mayonaise to eat some healthy fat and mix in some canned tuna, cherry tomatoes and cut-up celery. A pasta salad sure beats a boring old sandwich. Try whole-wheat or gluten-free pasta to make it even healthier -- you can find a variety of corn or quinoa versions in most major supermarkets.
3. Make it a Tofu Tuesday
On board with Meatless Monday? Enjoy your vegetarian leftovers the day after. Tofu is always a good source of vegetarian protein. Tofu has a range of healthy attributes including fibre, iron, calcium, vitamin K and folate. Make a simple work lunch of tofu and brown rice with any vegetable you wish, or enjoy some leftover barbecued tofu in a wrap with cabbage slaw and avocado. One tip: tofu is flavourless and takes on the taste of any ingredient you add to it, so you might want to go spicier than normal.
4. Roast a Chicken and Add it to Salad
Whether you roast a chicken yourself or buy a rotisserie chicken from the store, you’ve got a lean, healthy source of protein to add to a salad for the perfect healthy work lunch. Start with a base of baby kale to reap its health benefits: kale has calcium and, surprisingly, a greater amount of iron than beef. Add grapefruit and cut-up avocado for a filling alternative to yet another chicken sandwich.
5. Turkey Chili Tonight, Soup Tomorrow
Make a new lunch out of last evening’s turkey chili and add it to some tomato soup for a new take on Mexican/taco soup which usually includes chicken and tortilla chips. Add a side of whole-grain crackers and top with anything from chopped red pepper to some shredded cheese for a hit of calcium.
See also: How to Make the Best Work Lunches
A healthy work lunch doesn’t have to mean a less than exciting tuna sandwich or green salad. Follow these 5 tips to make healthy, yummy lunches out of leftovers and never buy take-out or vending machine snacks again.