How to Pack Healthy Lunches for Work

Energizing Foods for Lunch

Add strawberries and blueberries as your fruit for lunch or snacks to give yourself a natural, healthy energy boost.
Add strawberries and blueberries as your fruit for lunch or snacks to give yourself a natural, healthy energy boost.
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Lunch should help you get the energy you need to make it through your afternoon. Jobs can be stressful and demand a lot from your mind and body. Be prepared for those demands by packing healthy foods that also help boost your energy for the rest of the workday.

While vitamins and minerals provide nutrition, they aren't a source of food energy. Look to carbohydrates, fats and proteins for the calories you need. Carbohydrates, including sugars, are good for quick energy. If you have protein with those carbs, you can slow the rate at which your body absorbs them. The best way to put these together is to combine small amounts of protein, complex carbohydrates and some healthy fats as part of your lunch [source: Zelman].

The following are some foods that are good for you and help energize you for the afternoon ahead:

  • Energizing fruits: blueberries, strawberries, cantaloupe, mango, citrus fruit, tomatoes, avocado
  • Energizing veggies: peppers, sweet potatoes, spinach, broccoli
  • Energizing proteins: pork, salmon, soy, beans, nuts
  • Energizing grains: whole grains, oatmeal
  • Low-fat dairy products

If you think you'll need another energy boost during the day, combine these with a healthy mid-afternoon snack to pack with your lunch. The following are some energizing healthy snack ideas you can try:

  • An orange -- bring the whole orange, or peel the orange in advance and bring the wedges in to work in a small snack bag
  • A small snack bag of dried fruit and nuts
  • A spoonful of peanut butter on whole-wheat crackers -- you can keep these ingredients in your desk drawer for snacks throughout the week, but keep your portions in check
  • Low-fat yogurt with strawberries and blueberries -- chop up the berries ahead of time and bring them in a small container with your lunch, or add them to the yogurt in advance A cup of cantaloupe and mango slices with mandarin orange wedges
  • Sliced veggies and hummus dip -- slice the veggies at home and bring them in a small snack bag
  • Pita chips and bean dip

Another energizing tip is to make sure you stay hydrated. Your body is about 60 percent water, and it needs that water for digestion and energy. Even the slightest dehydration can make you feel tired [source: Mayo Clinic]. Keep a water bottle or big cup with you at work to remind you to drink plenty of water throughout the day, and refill it as soon as it's empty.