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March 24, 2023

Make Lunch Exciting Again

by Mindy McCullough, MS, RDN, LDN, CDCES

It is 11:30am, and your stomach is starting to signal it’s almost lunchtime.  You immediately remember you have a very unexciting turkey sandwich waiting for you in the breakroom fridge.  It is the exact same turkey sandwich you have brought the past 3 weeks for lunch.  You find yourself fighting the urge to get fast food or skip lunch altogether.

If this sounds like you, we are here to help.  No more boring desk lunches – let’s make lunch exciting again! Making your own lunch does not have to be tedious work involving hours of prep on the weekends. With a little variety and creativity, you can have a week’s worth of lunches with little effort.

Before starting to plan and prep your lunches for the week, ask yourself a few additional questions. The answers to these questions will help set you up to choose the best lunches for you and make the most of your time.

  • How much time can you commit to preparing lunches for the week?
  • How much time do you have to grab and eat lunch at work?
  • Do you need to pack your own silverware?
  • What is your access at work to a refrigerator or freezer? Do you have quick access to a microwave?
  • How will you remind yourself to pack and take your lunch to work with you?

Creating a satisfying and nutritionally balanced lunch that fits your health needs is important. Consider including high fiber carbohydrate options, lean protein, a vegetable option, and when possible a healthy fat item. Consuming a mix of these nutrients at lunch can help you feel fuller longer and provide energy for the second half of your day. Another important tip is to make sure to rotate your lunch options at least weekly.  This will help avoid burnout by consuming the same item week after week after week.

When you are short on time for prep, an adult lunchable or bento box style lunch can be a great option.  These lunches often do not need to be heated and many options can be purchased at the store, only requiring portioning into containers for the week.  Get creative with your options to keep it fresh and new each week. Check out the list below for some mix and match options.


  • Low sodium deli meat
  • Tuna
  • Canned/pouch chicken
  • Hard-boiled eggs


  • Carrots/baby tomatoes
  • Celery
  • Bell peppers/sweet mini peppers
  • Broccoli or cauliflower


  • Apple slices
  • Berries
  • Grapes
  • Oranges


  • Mini Whole Wheat Pita
  • Triscuits
  • Whole wheat or low carb tortilla
  • Wasa cracker


  • Cheese/peanut butter
  • Avocado/guacamole
  • Olives
  • Nuts

Looking for ways to spice up your favorite lunch stand-by can also help to add variety to lunch without having to try something completely different.

Classic sandwich

Add avocado and spinach to a turkey sandwich OR try Swiss cheese and ham with a spicy brown mustard


Top with avocado, cheese, plain Greek yogurt, and a few crushed tortilla chips


Try beans as a protein on your salad. Make it more filling by adding leftover brown rice or quinoa or try fruit as a topping.  Make or buy a different salad dressing.


Make a bowl with leftovers using grains and greens as a base, chopping leftover protein, and adding any veggies you have on hand.  Add flavor with hummus, salsa, Greek yogurt ranch, feta cheese, guacamole, sunflower seeds, or tahini.

Interested in more meal planning ideas that fit your health needs? Check out our Avance Care Cookbook, created by our Registered Dietitians.  You can also book an appointment online with an Avance Care Registered Dietitian by visiting here.

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