Nichola Ludlam-Raine, Specialist Dietitian | 12/09/2021

5 Healthy Lunch Ideas

When deciding what to eat for the day, in the Western world we tend to put more emphasis on our evening meal as our ‘main’ meal of the day. However, it’s important that where possible we aim to spread out our energy intake throughout the day to allow our body to digest our food properly in between meals and to get an even distribution of nutrients such as fibre and protein to provide us with energy, and to promote growth and repair, especially if we’re more active.

Although, something that many people struggle with is a lack of time at lunch - whether that be because of a short lunch break, or perhaps if you have a job when you’re on the go all the time. However - a little bit of planning can go a long way! A good tip to remember is to cook once, eat twice which could mean doubling up on portions or simply using leftovers from the night before!

Halloumi & Watermelon Salad 

This halloumi & watermelon salad may sound like a strange combination - but the combination of flavours is delicious! It combines a source of protein with not 1 but 2 of your 5-a-day and a source of fibre, too! 

Ingredients (Serves 2)
½ block halloumi, sliced⁣
100g watermelon, cut into cubes/triangles⁣
100g cherry tomatoes, halved⁣
¼ of a cucumber, diced⁣
1 pack of microwavable mixed grains⁣
1 pack of mixed salad⁣
A squeeze of lime⁣
1 small handful of mint leaves⁣


1.Heat a griddle pan on a medium/high heat with a couple of sprays of oil and place the watermelon to heat for 2 minutes on each side to lightly char. When done, remove from the pan and place in a bowl in the fridge to cool.⁣

2. Wash down your griddle pan and repeat the process with the halloumi, once grilled on each side, take off the heat. 

3. Meanwhile, add 2 handfuls of salad to each bowl, and prep your mixed grains according to the manufacturer's instructions (I used a microwave pack!) - add ½ a pack to each bowl and top with the cucumber & tomatoes.⁣

4. Remove the watermelon from the fridge and add to the salad, alongside the halloumi, mint leaves and a squeeze of lime to finish! 

Chilli & Lime Sweet Potato Cakes 

These are the perfect addition to a salad to keep you fuller for longer. Made with sweet potato, mixed beans and mixed nuts, they contribute towards the variety of plant-based foods within your diet throughout the week to support good health and increase the diversity of microbes in your gut, too! Simply add to a salad or serve inside a pitta with some salad and roasted vegetables. 

Ingredients (Serves 3-4)⁣
500g sweet potato⁣⁣
300g mixed beans⁣⁣
100g mixed nuts 
1 tsp cajun spice⁣⁣
1/2 tsp chilli flakes⁣⁣
Juice of 1/2 lime⁣⁣
1 egg⁣⁣
Pinch of salt & pepper⁣⁣
Optional - tahini or balsamic vinegar to dress!


1. Cut the sweet potato into chunks (skin on) and steam/ boil until soft - for around 10 minutes⁣⁣

2. Preheat the oven to 200c/180c (fan assisted) and line a baking tray with parchment paper. 

3. In a mixing bowl, use a potato masher to mash the beans and sweet potato into a chunky paste.

4. Blend the nuts for around 10 seconds using a blender so they’re still in some chunks and not completely ground.⁣

5. Grate half the lime and then pull the leaves off the fresh coriander and chop them into small pieces.⁣⁣

6. Add the lime juice, nuts, spices, egg and a pinch of salt & pepper to the mixing bowl and mix well.⁣

7. Spoon/ roll the mixture into small balls (they should make 12-14), place on the lined baking tray and flatten slightly with your hand. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until golden.⁣⁣

8. Serve with salad pitta and veggies of your choice or store in the fridge for up to 3 days!⁣⁣

Curried chicken & lentil soup

As we move into the Autumn months, there’s nothing better than a comforting soup! Although - shop bought soups can be high in added salt, so it’s always worth checking the label. As soups have a high water content, something else to consider when making or buying soup is to aim to include a source of protein such as chicken or lentils if you’re plant-based to keep you fuller for longer.

Ingredients (serves 4-6)
1L low salt chicken (or veg) stock⁣
200g red split lentils, rinsed⁣
2 chicken breasts⁣ (or 1 can chickpeas)
2 carrots, diced⁣
1 brown onion, diced⁣
1 garlic clove, grated⁣
1 tsp mild curry powder⁣
1 tbsp olive oil⁣
½ tsp turmeric⁣
½ tsp ground coriander⁣
½ tsp ground ginger⁣
¼ tsp cumin⁣


1. First, bring a medium sized pan of water to the boil and reduce to a simmer, add the 2 chicken breasts to poach for 30 minutes until cooked through. Then, use two forks to shred the chicken and leave to one side.⁣

2. Add the tbsp of olive oil to a large saucepan and warm on a medium heat, add the onion and carrot and stir for a few minutes until starting to soften. Then add the garlic and spices and stir for a couple of minutes to coat with the spices.⁣

3. Add the red lentils to the pan and stir through again, then add the litre of chicken stock. Bring to the boil, and then reduce to a simmer - leave for 30 minutes until the lentils and carrots have fully softened, and the mixture has thickened (try to stir every 10 minutes!)⁣.⁣

4. Add the shredded chicken to the pan and mix again until dispersed throughout! Serve immediately, or store in the fridge/freezer!

Plant-based pesto pasta buddha bowl

This plant-based buddha bowl is a great way to pack in some extra nutrients into your lunch, it also uses a combination of protein sources. Pairing your protein sources (e.g. nuts & beans in this recipe!) is a great way to ensure you’re consuming a variety of essential amino acids in order to meet your protein requirements too.


1 handful of fresh basil⁣
1 handful of spinach⁣
25g pine nuts (+ 2 tbsp to top)⁣
25g cashews⁣
100ml extra virgin olive oil⁣
Juice of ½ a lemon⁣
1 tbsp nutritional yeast⁣

2 handfuls of leafy green salad⁣
100g wholewheat pasta⁣
1 large pepper⁣
2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes, halved⁣
100g broccoli florets⁣
½ tin of cannellini beans⁣
½ tsp chilli flakes⁣


1️. To make the pesto, simply add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Place in a jar to use later (you’ll have leftovers of this too!)⁣

2. Chop your peppers into chunks and roast in the oven to soften for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the broccoli florets for approx two minutes in the microwave. 

3. Rinse and drain the cannellini beans, add the ½ tsp of chilli flakes and leave to one side.⁣

4️. Cook the pasta according to packet instructions, leave to cool (or rinse under cold water) and then add 1 tbsp of the pesto (or more depending on your liking!). 

5️. Time to assemble! Add a handful of salad to cover the base of each bowl, and then add the cooked peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, cannellini beans and finally the pesto pasta. ⁣

6️. Sprinkle over pine nuts for extra crunch and enjoy - add more pesto if you wish too!

Smashed peas on toast

If you’re really short of time but still want a nutritious and filling lunch - this quick recipe is perfect and can be prepared in under 10 minutes. As well as providing one of your 5-a-day, frozen peas also help to boost the protein content of the dish even more to provide a well balanced and delicious speedy option.

⁣100g frozen garden peas⁣
1/2 tbsp olive oil (I used chilli olive oil)⁣
Optional: 1⁄4 lemon, zested & mint leaves, shredded⁣
1 bagel sliced into 2 or 2 slices sourdough bread, toasted⁣
2 poached eggs


1. Put the peas in a bowl and cover with boiling water straight from the kettle (or microwave for 2-3 minutes to preserve even more of the vitamin C!). Leave to stand for 2-3 minutes; drain.⁣⁣

2️. Roughly mash with a fork or potato masher, then stir through the oil, (& optional lemon zest & mint) and season with salt & pepper.⁣

3️. Toast your bagel & top with the smashed peas before adding your poached eggs on top! ⁣

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