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Upgrade your desk lunch

While we’d all love to escape into the sunshine for lunch at this time of year, chances are you spend most of your workday food breaks by your computer with a sub-par high street salad.

But al desko dining needn’t mean resigning yourself to an unsatisfactory – and often unhealthy – meal. With these tactics and planning tips from, you can upgrade your weekday lunch into a top-notch eating experience you'll actually look forward to.

1. Create a desk-drawer pantry, including a few key ingredients to spice up basic ingredients: olive oil for drizzling over salads and soups, almonds (ideal for snacking and adding healthy protein to dishes), and trusty sea salt, chilli flakes, pepper and vinegar (perfect for punching up blah meals).

2. Choose salad ingredients that you can dress in the morning without ending up with a soggy mess. Rugged leaves such as kale, chard and radicchio, work best, and you can also add a few chunks of break to soak up any excess.

3. Dine like the French: and by that we mean doing it picnic-style with a few slices of salami, a bit of cheese and some bread, with olives, fruit and nuts. You could even bring in a small cutting board and knife to make meal preparation faster.

4. Follow this guide to creating the perfect homemade salad: choose grains or greens as a base (wholegrains such as freekeh, farro and red quinoa, and kale or little gem work well); add protein (try hard-boiled eggs, chickpeas or fish); include some satisfying additions to vamp up the flavour (think raw veggies, roasted tomatoes or feta); and finally, include a dressing of your choice.

5. Go for the Scandinavian approach and opt for a healthier, open sandwich. Take a slice of dense rye bread, spread it with a layer of hummus or ricotta, and add meat or another source of protein (whether that’s avocado or high-quality ham). Make sure you pack the ingredients separately and simply assemble at your desk.

6. Plan early by always thinking two meals ahead and do necessary prep in the evenings. Portion out your meals into handy jars (whether you opt for homemade soup or a simple pasta bake), freeze and reheat at work, so you don’t make poor lunchtime decisions when tired and stressed.

7. Always have an avocado to hand. Rich, filling and versatile, it only requires a couple of additional ingredients to make a delicious, complete meal. Try mashing your avocado onto crackers with a squeeze of lemon juice, or dice it up with some cucumber and drizzle with olive oil and lime to create a simple summer salad.

8. Prepare a stash of hard-boiled eggs at the weekend, and you’ll be sorted for the rest of the week. They’re ideal as a healthy mid-morning snack or as an addition to otherwise dull salads.

9. Use your leftovers wisely, and keep things interesting by transforming last night’s meal into an entirely new dish. Try adding celery and harissa mayonnaise to leftover chicken to create a tasty salad, or turn leftover pasta and beaten eggs into a frittata by cooking it over a medium heat. 

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